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Author/Editor: N. Sivasothi
Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore.

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05 Jul 2007 - Raffles Museum News has shifted to http://news.rafflesmuseum.net

News about NUS' Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Singapore - Archives

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Fri 05 May 2006

08 May 2006: 11am - Naomi Pierce on "Evolution of blue butterflies: pattern and process"

Category : bejc

Meetings of the NUS DBS Biodiversity & Ecology Journal Club

"Evolution of blue butterflies: pattern and process"

Naomi E. Pierce
Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
Harvard University, USA

Monday, 8th May 2006; 11:00 am - 12.00pm

DBS Conference Room
Blk S3, Level 5, Department of Biological Sciences
The National University of Singapore
Science Drive 4
Visitors may park at Carpark 10;
See map

Host: Navjot Sodhi

About the Talk - The larvae of lycaenid butterflies often associate -- sometimes in an obligatory, species-specific way -- with ants. Typically this relationship is mutualistic, with caterpillars being defended from predators and parasites by attendant ants that in turn receive nutritious secretions from the caterpillars. The mutualism is occasionally corrupted, however, with caterpillars preying upon or parasitizing the ants, as in the case of the Large Blue and its relatives in the genus Maculinea.

A phylogenetic framework for the Lycaenidae permits a detailed analysis of the evolutionary dynamics of these relationships, and has revealed (1) evidence of historical constraint in patterns of host-ant choice among lycaenids; (2) consistent patterns in the polarity of evolutionary change in the acquisition of predatory or parasitic lifestyles; and (3) the footprint of ant-association past in the evolution of lycaenid predatory behaviors. Phylogenetic analysis has also uncovered aspects of mechanism underlying lycaenid diversification. A comparative study of species in the genus Agrodiaetus that have unusual karyotype variability has provided insight into the potential role of reinforcement in the speciation of this group.

About the Speaker - Naomi Pierce is the Hessel Professor of Biology in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard. Research in her laboratory focuses on the ecology and evolution of species interactions. This work has ranged from studying genetic mechanisms and biochemical signaling pathways underlying three-way interactions between plants, pathogens and insects to investigating the ecological costs and benefits of symbioses between caterpillars in the butterfly family Lycaenidae and their attendant ants. Her main focus in recent years has been on life history evolution, and she has taken a phylogenetic approach to understanding how particular life history transitions may have affected the diversification of different lineages.

Pierce moved to Harvard in 1990 after appointments as a Research Lecturer in the Department of Zoology at Oxford University and Assistant and Associate Professor at Princeton University. She has received prizes such as a Fulbright Fellowship and a MacArthur award, and she is currently an editor of Behavioral Ecology. She lives in Cambridge with her husband, science writer Andrew Berry, and their twin daughters.

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