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Lauren A. O'Connell, "Chemical and cognitive ecology in poison frogs"

January 24, 2017 - 12:15pm to 1:15pm
Sapp Science Teaching and Learning Center, Room 114

Free and open to the public.

Abstract: How do evolutionary innovations in animal physiology and behavior arise? We use poison frogs to answer this question by studying two evolutionary innovations: the physiological mechanisms of toxin sequestration and the neural basis of parental behavior. Ecology links these poison frogs traits together, where predation and spatial structure of the environment has driven the evolution of (and variation within) both chemical defenses and parental behaviors. I will first discuss chemical defenses in the Little Devil frog (Oophaga sylvatica), where we have found that both the environment and genetics influence toxin profiles across various populations. I will then discuss the neural basis of tadpole transport behavior, where we have used comparative approaches between various poison frog species that differ in reproductive strategies to gain insight into the mechanisms underlying tadpole piggyback rides. Finally, I will tie both chemical ecology and parental care together to discuss our work on the convergent evolution of egg-feeding maternal behavior in South American and Malagasy poison frogs, where we have uncovered the neural basis and adaptive significance of this unique behavior.

Event Sponsor: 
Department of Biology
Contact Email: 
May Chin
Contact Phone: 
725-1827