LERN Debate 2017 – Big Data

The reduction in price of processing capacity and data storage is allowing us to generate datasets of unmatched size and complexity. This is especially true for the evolutionary sciences, where ever-increasing datasets are fuelled by the improvement of image analysis and sequencing technologies. We now face the challenge of finding the best approaches to manage this accumulation of data. For instance, is it preferable to favour quantity over quality? Will our processing capacity catch up with the pace at which data is being generated?

Four prominent researchers specialised in Big Data will discuss these and other pressing questions regarding the future of evolutionary research in our annual debate organised in association with the Linnean Society:

  • Prof Christophe Dessimoz (University of Lausanne; University College London)
  • Prof Kate Jones (University College London)
  • Dr Nicholas Pound (Brunel University London)
  • Dr Vincent Smith (Natural History Museum, London)

Moderator: Kathryn Ford  (Brunel University London)

 

Date: Thursday 16 November 2017

Follow the link below for more information on the event and to access the registration page:

https://www.linnean.org/meetings-and-events/events/lern-debate-2017-big-data

More updates coming soon!

Andrea Dixon – At the edge of the species: the effects of gene flow on fitness

Speaker: Dr. Andrea Dixon (Rothamsted)

Title: At the edge of the species: the effects of gene flow on fitness

Where: Medawar Building G02 Watson LT, UCL (Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT)

When: 25th April 2017, 18:30

Abstract:

Species ranges that are distributed across environmentally heterogeneous landscapes can be constrained by the efficacy of natural selection at range edges. Constraints on adaptation in range edge populations may arise because of small effective population size or because of an antagonism between divergent selection and gene flow. Mimulus bicolor, is an herbaceous spring annual constrained to the Sierra Nevada Mountain range in California, USA. To understand if maladaptive gene flow or small effective population size limits the species’ range, we investigated if populations found at climatically divergent range edges and at the center of the range were locally adapted using a common garden experiment in climate-controlled chambers. We then assessed the consequences of gene flow into edge populations by comparing the fitness of hybrids to parents originating from the local edge environment. These common garden analyses were supported by coalescent analysis to estimate effective population size and gene flow between central and edge populations originating from the field. From the common garden experiment, our results suggest that the populations used in this study were not locally adapted and gene flow from central to edge populations increased hybrid fitness. In addition, edge populations were effectively smaller than central populations. Taken together, these results reject the hypothesis that the range limits reflect an antagonism between divergent selection and gene flow. The geographic distribution of M. bicolor, however, likely reflects the reduced efficacy of natural selection in effectively small populations inhabiting stressful range edge environments.

Nigel Nicholson – Adaptive and unadaptive leadership: an evolutionary perspective

Speaker: Prof. Nigel Nicholson (London Business School)

Title: Adaptive and unadaptive leadership: an evolutionary perspective

Where: UCL, Drayton House B05 (30 Gordon Street, WC1H 0AX)

When: 20th February 2017, 18:00

Abstract:

Leadership serves the need for coordination and direction in social groups of many species, and for humans it has special properties and significance. We notice when it fails more than when it succeeds, and it has been heavily and largely poorly theorised in the business literature. We shall discuss why this is and how an evolutionary perspective can help us understand the preconditions, from a practical and theoretical standpoint, for its success and failure as an adaptive instrument for groups and institutions.

LERN conference 2016

NEW!  Programme and abstracts book available here: lern2016_abstract_book.pdf

Our annual conference is coming up! Join us for a great day of discovering the great evolutionary research being done by fellow students and PostDocs from around London and beyond!

Please register here. If you’d like to submit an abstract for a 15 minute talk, lightning talk, or poster, please email us at contact@londonevolution.org.

As usual in the last few years, we have a theme for our keynote speakers: the Application of Evolutionary Principles to Agriculture and Medicine.

More information here.

When: 9th November 2016

Location: Fogg lecture theater, Queen Mary University

Cost: Free!

Accessibility: The Fogg Lecture Theatre is wheelchair-accessible. There is easy access to a wheelchair-accessible toilet.

Upcoming seminar: Camilla Power – The Revolutionary Sex

Speaker: Dr. Camilla Power (University of East London)

Title: The Revolutionary Sex: can sexual conflict theory help explain the emergence of language and culture?

Where: UCL (South Wing 9 Garwood LT)

When: 12th October, 18:00

Abstract:

Across species, sexual selection and sexual conflict – where the evolutionary interests of the sexes differ – provide the arena for the evolution of highly elaborate forms of signaling. Sexual conflict models, with complex psychological adaptations to situations of both conflict and cooperation between the sexes, can illuminate the evolution of the human symbolic domain of language, art and ritual.

Inside the last half- million years, significant encephalization in our African ancestors imposed heavy reproductive costs on females. Female coalitionary ritualized display emerged as a strategy to increase levels of male investment in very large-brained offspring.  Basically, we’re here today with our huge brains because women (and investor males) won the symbolic revolution at the expense of non-investing alpha males. The advantage of this model is that it offers specific predictions about the symbolic signals that arose and can still be traced in the archaeological and ethnographic records.