Lecture Series

Tate Spring Lecture Series: Islands of Evolution

April 23rd @ 7:30pm- PS103

Craig Benkman- Professor and Robert B. Berry Distinguished Chair in Ecology at the University of Wyoming.  “Evolution on Sky Islands in the West”

Islands have long served as natural laboratories for studying evolution. One reason islands are so informative is that the composition of biological communities often varies from island to island. With differing communities in otherwise similar environments, we can tease apart the ecological and evolutionary impacts of different species. I will focus on the Intermountain West where American red squirrels have not colonized isolated mountains or sky islands in the Great Basin due the intervening and extensive sagebrush steppe. The contrast between much of the Rocky Mountains having red squirrels and the sky islands lacking them has allowed me to both tease apart the effects of the red squirrels and how mammals, even very small ones, seem to dominate most ecosystems relative to birds. These comparisons have also revealed how, in the absence of red squirrels, another conifer-seed-eating animal, the Red Crossbill (a type of finch) became engaged in a coevolutionary arms race with lodgepole pine causing the evolution of a distinct species of bird – the Cassia Crossbill.

April 30th @ 7:30pm- CS160

Justin Wilkins- The Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, S.D., Paleontologist “Here, There, and Everywhere: Mammoths of and around the Black Hills and their importance on a broad scale.”

This talk will cover more detail in regards to the Channel Islands mammoths than the title would suggest.

May 9th @ 7:30pm- PS103

Felisa Smith, Ph.D.- Professor of Biology at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. “Late Quaternary isolation of mammals on islands in the Sea of Cortez”