Published: Sept. 3, 2020

Dr. Simon P. Lailvaux photo Dr. Simon P. Lailvaux
Virginia Kock/Audubon Nature Institute Chair in Species Preservation
University of New Orleans

When:   Sept. 11th, 2020 at Noon
Where:  Seminar will be presented via Zoom

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Meeting ID: 910 4844 0693


Symmorphosis in a multivariate world: trade-offs and constraints on lizard whole-organism performance

The concept of symmorphosis posits that biological design is optimized such that structural capacity closely matches functional demand. Although subject to criticism, symmorphosis remains a useful null hypothesis for understanding phenotypic expression in physiological systems. Whole-organism performance capacities (which comprise athletic abilities such as running, jumping, climbing, and even biting) are key determinants of Darwinian fitness, but they are also multivariate traits that are subject to trade-offs with other aspects of the integrated organismal phenotype.

I will describe recent experiments aimed at understanding the functional, life-history, and intraspecific relationships both among different performance traits, and between performance and other components of fitness using lizards as a model system. I will also show that a proper understanding of performance trade-offs, and indeed of symmorphosis, can only be achieved by studying phenotypes within an appropriate ecological context -  in other words, in nature. Finally, I will describe a novel approach that uses machine learning to infer unmeasured performance abilities in lizards, potentially allowing us to estimate the multivariate performance phenotype, something that will become increasingly necessary as we advance into the era of phenomics.

Everyone is welcome to attend these Zoom seminars.