Science online, #evol2010 hangover edition

Between the all-day conferencing of Evolution 2010 and the fact that car trouble stranded me in Kennewick, Washington, almost exactly halfway between Portland and Moscow, I haven’t done enough online reading to justify my usual end-of the week roundup. I will, however, note a few things:

And, lastly, bluebirds are still frickin’ spectacular photo subjects.

Photo by kevincole.

#evol2010 day 4: In which the race is not always to the swift, and giving up on sex isn’t a dead end

Updated, 2010.06.30: Publish in haste, revise at leisure. I’ve gone back and added some links to original papers mentioned in the talks, and a note on another talk I meant to include (the first in the list, now).
And again, 2010.07.02: Added a specific link to the EvoDevoGeno audiocast, and to Vincent Calcagno’s professional page.

ResearchBlogging.orgThe final day of Evolution 2010 featured a fantastic series of talks in the ASN Young Investigators Symposium, and marked the premiere of the iEvoBio sister conference, which ran concurrently today. Perhaps not surprisingly, the #ievobio tag quickly outran the #evol2010 tag on Twitter.

I’m ending the conference with a final wrap-up audiocast with the crew from Evolution, Development, and Genomics, and then hopefully a quick run before the closing banquet.

A western bluebird arrives at its nest box. Photo by kevincole.

Primary literature referenced

Calcagno, V., Dubosclard, M., & de Mazancourt, C. (2010). Rapid exploiter‐victim coevolution: The race is not always to the swift. The American Naturalist DOI: 10.1086/653665

Duckworth, R., & Kruuk, L. (2009). Evolution of genetic integration between dispersal and colonization ability in a bird. Evolution, 63 (4), 968-77 DOI: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2009.00625.x

Johnson, M., Smith, S., & Rausher, M. (2009). Plant sex and the evolution of plant defenses against herbivores. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA, 106 (43), 18079-84 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0904695106

McGlothlin, J., Jawor, J., & Ketterson, E. (2007). Natural variation in a testosterone‐mediated trade‐off between mating effort and parental effort. The American Naturalist, 170 (6), 864-75 DOI: 10.1086/522838

#evol2010 day 3: In which butterflies self-medicate and Orr conjectures

ResearchBlogging.orgHow do you know it’s getting to be the end of the Evolution 2010 meetings? Because I didn’t get to this until this morning, in the back rows of the SSE symposium on evolutionary prediction. But the third day of the meetings were great, with cool natural history and a great address by SSE president H. Allen Orr.

And don’t forget to check out the daily wrap-up audiocast over at Evolution, Development, and Genomics, which was just endorsed by none other than Carl Zimmer.

A monarch butterfly. Photo by mikebaird.
  • Thierry Lefevre presented evidence that female monarch butterflies infected with a microbial parasite lay their eggs on host plants with more toxins that can fight the parasite.
  • Susan Dudley presented new work on kin recognition in the small annual plant Cakile edentula, in which the plants grow less aggressively if planted next to close relatives.
  • Ian Pearse presented evidence that introduced oak species were more likely to be attacked by a native herbivore if they were more closely related to native oak species.
  • Finally, H. Allen Orr capped the day with an SSE presidential address that focused on what we know—and what we don’t—about how reproductive isolation evolves and creates new species. Orr concluded with three conjectures:
    • Extrinsic postzygotic isolation is usually due to adaptation to ecological conditions,
    • Intrinsic postzygotic isolation is usually due to adaptation to the intrinsic environment within the genome, and
    • Prezygotic isolation is usually due to sexual selection.

    The idea, of course, is to collect the data to test these conjectures. But I’d say these make pretty good sense based on what we already know.

Edit, 2010.06.30: Swapped the original photo for one that actually depicts a monarch butterfly, as discussed in the comments (thanks, Julie!).

Primary literature referenced

Dudley, S., & File, A. (2007). Kin recognition in an annual plant. Biology Letters, 3 (4), 435-8 DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2007.0232

#evol2010 day 2: In which sexes diverge and reptiles are disparate

ResearchBlogging.orgIn day two, Evolution 2010 is already feeling a mite overwhelming. I started the morning in the SSE symposium on speciation and the origin of dimorphism, then spent the rest of the day bouncing from talk to talk and preparing for my own presentation, which is tomorrow at 9:30. I’m going to bed early tonight, I think.

There’s a new daily wrap-up podcast over at Evolution, Development, and Genomics, and, if you haven’t been following the conference on Twitter, check hashtag #evol2010 or this list of twittering attendees I’ve compiled.

What’s going on with snakes, anyway? Photo by Tambako the Jaguar.

Primary literature referenced

Bolnick, D. I. & Doebeli, M. (2003). Sexual dimorphism and adaptive speciation: Two sides of the same ecological coin. Evolution 57(11):2433-49 DOI: 10.1111/j.0014-3820.2003.tb01489.x.

Butler, M., & King, A. (2004). Phylogenetic comparative analysis: a modeling approach for adaptive evolution. The American Naturalist, 164 (6), 683-95 DOI: 10.1086/426002

#evol2010 day 1: In which chromosomes invert and sources sink

ResearchBlogging.orgThe first day at Evolution 2010 has been a great one. The location in Portland is proving to be great in stereotypical ways: great beer from Rogue Ales, conference t-shirts by American Apparel. There’s pretty good chatter on Twitter this year under the hashtag #evol2010, and in a first for Evolution meeting coverage, there will be daily wrap-up audiocasts (in which I’ll be participating) at the blog Evolution, Development, and Genomics.

Amusingly, we’re sharing the Oregon Convention Center with a “Christian” homeschooling conference, but so far this has led to neither disruptions nor learning experiences.

Some highlights of the talks I’ve attended so far:

  • Jeffrey Feder proposed a new means by which chromosomal inversions might evolve, via a period of allopatric population isolation that allows a locally adaptive inversion to spread, followed by secondary contact during which gene flow creates selective pressure to reduce recombination that could break up the inversion.
  • Simone Des Roches presented new evidence that three lizard species, which have colonized a region of white sand in the New Mexican desert and subsequently evolved “blanched” coloration [PDF], are experiencing ecological release and density compensation. (Simone and her labmate Kayla Hardwick recently discussed their work in blog format.)
  • Chelsea Berns demonstrated that, alone among North American temperate hummingbirds, Ruby-throated hummingbird males have differently-shaped bills from Ruby-throated females.
  • Joel Sachs described the natural frequency and origins of rhizobial bacteria that “cheat” on their host plants.
  • Sheina Sim described host shifts in the apple maggot fly, Rhagoletis pomonella: the fly originally shifted from its native host, hawthorn, to domestic apples [PDF] when they were introduced to North America—now the fly has been introduced to the Pacific Northwest via transport of apples, and some populations have shifted back to hawthorns.
  • The American Society of Naturalists Vice Presidential symposium presented a large volume of work towards discovering the reasons for species’ range boundaries, including great syntheses of population genetic and experimental data for the wildflowers Mimulus cardinalis and Clarkia xantiana—one emerging theme is the importance of the balance of gene flow from healthy populations in the center of ranges to poorly-adapted populations at the edges.

Update, 1950h: The first Evolution 2010 audiocast is now live for download here.

Primary literature referenced

Feder, J., Chilcote, C., & Bush, G. (1988). Genetic differentiation between sympatric host races of the apple maggot fly Rhagoletis pomonella. Nature, 336 (6194), 61-64 DOI: 10.1038/336061a0

Rosenblum, E. (2006). Convergent evolution and divergent selection: lizards at the White Sands ecotone. The American Naturalist, 167 (1), 1-15 DOI: 10.1086/498397

Science online, Portland-bound edition

Just two days after I get back to Moscow from that Santa Barbara, I’m off again to Portland, for Evolution 2010. As in previous years, I’ll try to post daily notes about cool talks I see at the meeting, and maybe some photos of Portland, where the weather is allegedly going to be warm and sunny. In the meantime, here’s what’s been going on in the science blogosphere this week:

Never again? Photo by Vern and Skeet.
  • Still gushing. Earlier this week, BP removed the containment cap on the Gulf of Mexico oil gusher following a mishap with an underwater robot, but it’s back for now. Internal documents suggest that, early on in the disaster, BP knew a lot more oil was flowing than they told the federal government. Hydrology experts are considering how existing flow control structures might be able to use the Mississippi River itself to protect coastal wetlands from oil.
  • Reconsider that sashimi. An environmentalist group is petitioning to protect bluefin tuna, which spawn in the Gulf of Mexico, under the Endangered Species Act. (NY Times)
  • Meanwhile, in even longer-running fossil fuel disasters. In Pennsylvania coal country, underground mine fires burn unchecked. (SEED Magazine)
  • Walk like a man. A newly-discovered fossil of Australopithecus afarensis—the same species as “Lucy”—has a ribcage more like a human’s than an ape’s, suggesting that it stood upright. (A Primate of Modern Aspect)
  • Why did the moose cross the road? Larger mammals with broader home ranges and lower reproductive rates are at greater risk of becoming roadkill. (Conservation Maven)
  • No word about preference for rock’n’roll, though. Attitudes about sex are better predictors of attitudes about drug use and religion than “abstract political ideologies.” (Blag Hag)
  • Wait, there’s software to do that? You never know when the Methods section of an otherwise obscure paper is going to turn up something useful. (NeuroDojo)

And now, a video of aggregating ladybugs.

Someone’s on the ball

The website for Evolution2010 is already online! I really like the logo. The site design looks familiar, and good for the organizers for not wasting time to re-evolve the camera eye, say I. Portland is going to be a great location, I think — my experience is that Evolution meetings are largely remembered by the quality of beer available, which should be hard to get wrong in that town.

Image from Evolution2010.