Mathematics Colloquium: Paul Hohenlohe

Thursday, April 5 2012 at 3:30 PM

Location: TLC 032

Mathematics Colloquium, presented by Paul Hohenlohe, University of Idaho, titled "The Dimensionality of Evolution" will occur April 5 at 3:30 TLC 032.

ABSTRACT: The dynamic behavior of evolving biological systems involves a vast number of factors, including environmental variables, complex interactions among species and numerous organismal traits such as morphology, physiology and behavior. This implies a highly multidimensional space in which evolution can operate. However, tight relationships among factors, such as strong genetic correlations among traits, can constrain the trajectories of evolution to a much smaller subspace. The colloquium will discuss a novel technique for estimating the number of independent axes along which evolution can operate - the dimensionality of evolution - based on empirical data in the form of interaction matrices. It will illustrate the approach for estimating the dimensionality of reproductive isolation, the critical step in the formation of new species. Based on datasets from several animal groups, this dimensionality appears to have a strong upper limit, and mapping of independent axes can provide new insight into the underlying biological processes. The method is easily generalizable to a wide range of biological situations, and the type of empirical data required to draw inferences is commonly gathered in ecological and evolutionary studies.