The College of Arts and Sciences Department of Ecology and Evolution will present “Behavior is a motor and a brake for evolution,” featuring evolutionary biologist Martha Muñoz, as part of its Living World lecture series in celebration of Darwin Day.
The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held Friday, February 10, at 7:30 pm in the Earth and Space Sciences Building, Lecture Theatre 001. Darwin Day celebrates the birthday of Charles Darwin and the implications of organic evolution in science and society.
One of the most striking patterns of evolution is its uneven tempo across the tree of life. Whereas some traits and lineages diversify rapidly, others appear to remain inert over millions of years. But why is this so? Munoz will explore this question by focusing on one of evolution’s key architects: behavior. Using Caribbean Anolis lizards as a model system, she will reveal the signatures of behavior at both micro- and macroevolutionary scales and illustrate the constraints on this phenomenon. Behavior can slow or hasten evolution; on occasion, it does both simultaneously.
Muñoz is an assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University and an assistant curator at the Yale Peabody Museum. Her research focuses on uncovering the mechanisms that guide the rate at which evolution unfolds — primarily working in the Caribbean, her research centers on reptiles, amphibians and fish. Prior to joining the faculty at Yale, she was an assistant professor at Virginia Tech and did postdoctoral research fellowships at Duke University and the Australian National University.