Secrets of Sleep: Predators, Parasites and the Evolution of Sleep in Mammals

Thank you to everyone that attended our last events. This month we have Dr Isabella Capellini from the University of Hull speaking about the evolution of sleep in mammals.
Venue: Tuesday 3rd June, 5pm, Medawar Building (G01 Lankester Lecture Theatre) at UCL.

Secrets of Sleep: Predators, Parasites and the Evolution of Sleep in Mammals – Dr Isabella Capellini

ABSTRACT:
Sleep is an essential requirement for animal life. While we have a good understanding of the major proximate mechanisms controlling sleep, we know much less about the ecological constraints on sleep time and how they influence the evolution of sleep. Here we exploit the great diversity in mammalian sleep patterns to investigate questions on the role of ecological constraints in the evolution of sleep patterns. We show that ecological pressures – predation risk, sociality, parasite risk – have a much greater impact on the evolution of sleep that previously acknowledged, determining how much time species can devote to sleep. Conversely, we find no evidence in support to the idea that sleep enables energy conservation. We also investigate how sleep is organized within the activity budget of the species and show that ‘packing’ sleep needs into fewer bouts leads to greater efficiency by reducing daily sleep times. Thus, contrary to what often suggested in sleep science, ecology has a major role in driving the evolution of animal sleep patterns.
There is a chance to meet the speaker before the talk, from 4:30pm for a relaxed meet & greet in the same venue.

 

It is of course free to attend and there will be a chance to chat with the speaker afterwards as we retire to a nearby pub.
Please do circulate this to anyone that might be interested!
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Above the Species: The Evolutionary Significance of Higher Taxa

Thank you to everyone that attended our last event, Digital Organisms. This month we have Dr Aelys Humphreys speaking about the evolutionary significance of higher taxa. Same place, same time, see you there!

Venue: Thursday 22nd May, 5pm, Medawar Building (G02 Watson Lecture Theatre) at UCL.

It is of course free to attend and there will be a chance to chat with the speaker afterwards as we retire to a nearby pub.

Please do circulate this to anyone that might be interested!

Above the Species: The Evolutionary Significance of Higher Taxa

Identifying biodiversity units is fundamental to studying how diversity evolves. Species are widely regarded to represent discrete, evolutionary units and the processes by which species are formed are well known from a rich body of theoretical literature. In contrast, and despite their historical status as natural entities, higher taxa (e.g. families and genera) tend not to be considered real, evolutionary units in the same way; processes that cause evolution of discrete groups above the species tend not to be considered.

In this talk we will consider how biodiversity is patterned above the species and how such patterns evolve. Using simulations we show that processes that cause evolution of discrete species, geographical isolation and ecological divergence, can cause evolution of discrete, independently evolving units above the species as well. Analyses of densely sampled phylogenies provide strong evidence for the existence of such units in both vertebrates and seed plants. In mammals they tend to correspond to the family level in traditional taxonomy, whereas in gymnospermous plants they tend to correspond to genera. The analytical framework and the findings we will present offer a new realm for studying diversity at broad scales and provide a crossroads between taxonomy and evolution currently lacking above the species.Aelys Humphreys

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