In which we discover that evolution on islands can actually be slower than on continents. Why? Read this press release or our paper to find out. Congratulations to lead author Jhan Salazar (undergraduate) and co-author Brooke Bodensteiner (graduate student)!
A new book is out! Behavior of Lizards: Evolutionary and Mechanistic Perspectives features a chapter on foraging behavior by Martha Muñoz and colleagues. The researchers integrate sensory ecology and evolutionary perspectives to discuss how lizards find and acquire food. Lizards are exceptionally diverse where foraging strategies are concerned: some are visual foragers, whereas others use chemoreception or thermosensation or, in a few cases, auditory cues. How does it all fit together in the lizard tree of life? Read to find out!
Martha was recently quoted in the Atlantic, where she commented on a recent article on experimental evolution in mice. Check out the article!
Martha published a new paper in the Journal of Thermal Biology. Behavioral thermoregulation and physiological plasticity have long been recognized as key traits that should buffer organisms from the pernicious effects of climate warming. Behavior and plasticity, however, are usually studied independently. By examining patterns of thermoregulation and physiological plasticity in a single population over the course of a year, the researchers demonstrated that the traits are not independent – thermoregulation is constrained by physiological plasticity. When considered in the framework of environmental warming, lizards might have a limited ability to mount a strong buffering response. This research is part of a new and ongoing collaboration with scientists at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). The next phase of this research is to conduct a macroevolutionary study of behavior and physiology across the whole clade of spiny lizards. Stay tuned!
Today, Martha and Muñoz Lab graduate student, Brooke Bodensteiner, published a paper in the inaugural issue of Integrative Organismal Biology, a new open access journal through the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. In this conceptual paper, Martha and Brooke bridge two classic hypotheses – Janzen’s Hypothesis and the Bogert Hypotheses – which have been foundational concepts in biology for several decades. The result is a synthesis that links climatic variation, organismal behavior, physiological variation, and rates of evolution in a single conceptual framework. Specifically, Martha and Brooke argue that high climatic variation favors behavioral thermoregulation, which limits physiological turnover across environments, and results in slower evolution. In contrast, low climatic variability limits behavior, fosters physiological turnover, and results in faster evolution. They illustrate these connections using empirical data from Caribbean Anolis lizards. This integrative conceptual framework is widely applicable to a number of fundamental questions in organismal biology, ecology, and evolution.
One of the coolest aspects of being a faculty member is getting to design new courses. This fall, I had the absolute privilege of leading a new course: Life in the Anthropocene. We talked about all the ways in which humans have changed selective pressures in the environment, and how those selective pressures impact organisms. It was a total blast! Honestly, I can’t thank the students enough for the thoughtful discussion and the pure joy of this course. Today was the last day and students discussed their term papers. Undergraduate Nathan Clark brought in his own products of human-induced selection: Ultra hot peppers! They were so hot he needed to wear gloves. I’ll miss this class so much!
This past week, we had the privilege of hosting Dr. Will Ratcliff for our EEB seminar series. Dr. Ratcliff’s work bridges evolution, microbiology, and cellular/molecular biology to address a core question in biology: How does multicellularity evolve? Thanks again to Will, who gave a rocking talk and was a wonderful visitor.
Hosted by Dr. David Blackburn, Martha recently visited the University of Florida to give seminar. During her visit, she was able to tour the Caribbean archaeology collections and visit nearby swamps. Thanks to everyone in Biology and the Museum of Natural History for such a memorable visit!
Martha recently visited Purdue University to give seminar in the EcoLunch series. She was hosted by Dr. Ximena Bernal. Thanks to everyone at Purdue EEB for the wonderful visit!