Jessica was recently awarded the STRI short-term fellowship to carry out a project studying longevity and cognitive decline in Heliconius butterflies. Working under the supervision of both Dr. Owen McMillan and Dr. Stephen Montgomery of the Evolution of Brains and Behaviour (EBAB) lab in Cambridge, she will study the effects of age on learning and memory tests in both Heliconius and Dryas butterflies, with the aim of investigating a potential differential senescence in cognitive ability between the two genera. Will the physiological robustness conferred upon Heliconius by their pollen-feeding behaviour translate to a similar robustness in cognitive ability compared to their non-pollen-feeding close relatives?
Wyatt is at STRI as a visiting researcher for three months investigating the behavioural consequences of evolved differences in the neuroanatomy of Heliconius and non-Heliconius butterflies as a result of being awarded funding through McGill’s NSERC-CREATE in Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Sustainability program. He is a graduate student at McGill University’s Department of Biology in Montreal, Canada working with Professor Simon Reader where he researches the factors that constrain behavioural plasticity in Trinidadian guppies. His research interests lie broadly within evolutionary biology, animal behaviour, neurobiology and genomics. In addition to research he is interested in the storytelling of science which he pursues by producing scientific videos.
Krzysztof “Chris” Kozak will be presenting a talk titled, Evolution and Ecology of Neotropical Butterflies Through a Genomic Lens Tuesday, March 19th at the Tupper Conference Center at 12:30pm.
Neotropics harbor the greatest diversity of life on Earth, but the relatively poor fossil record makes it difficult to peek into the past, especially of invertebrates. Genome sequencing has provided the solution, as accumulated variation in natural populations is a repository of information about recent and ancient events. I will demonstrate how genomics has opened a window onto the evolution of diversity within and between species of Heliconius butterflies, the classic subject of studies on Mullerian mimicry and other adaptations to the complex tropical environments. Population genomics of the 29 races of H. erato and H. melpomene reveal that the intricate mosaic of mimetic wing patterns has evolved independently in each species, with varied importance of interspecific introgression. Continental scale sampling coupled with niche models reveals differential roles for the changing landscape and climate, leading to local adaptation and divergent population structures of mimetic lineages. The classic example of co-evolution is therefore not strictly co-evolved.