[Seminar] "How intraspecific variation, phenotypic plasticity, and rapid evolution influence the maintenance of species diversity" by Simon Hart (University of Queensland)
Abstract: Understanding how diversity is maintained in biological systems is a fundamental problem in biology. When addressing this problem, ecologists tend to focus on the importance of average differences between species, while typically ignoring the ecological and evolutionary consequences of differences between individuals within those species. In three short stories, I will show why this is a mistake. Counterintuitively, differences between individuals within species make it more difficult to maintain species diversity, phenotypic plasticity promotes species diversity maintenance where it would otherwise not be possible, and rapid evolution alters expectations for species diversity maintenance but not according to the predictions of classic evolutionary theory. In sum, understanding how species diversity is maintained requires understanding the causes and consequences of diversity occurring at different levels of biological organization.Biography: Simon is a Lecturer in Quantitative Biology at the University of Queensland. His research group focuses on the processes driving the rise and fall of populations of animals and plants over time. Recent and continuing work focuses on the influence of rapid evolution on population and community dynamics. New work focuses on dramatic ecology – identifying, understanding, and predicting large, rapid, sometimes unprecedented, and often consequential changes, in population and community dynamics.