The causes and consequences of variation in dispersal distance

When: Friday 15 March 2013, 3-4pm
Where: Environment 1_N55_Room 1.07 Griffith University, Nathan Campus
Who: Assoc Prof Winsor H Lowe, Division of Biological Sciences, The University of Montana, USA


Dispersal is a fundamental process in population biology, ecology, and evolution. In most species dispersal distributions are characterized by many individuals that remain close to their origin and large variation in the distances moved by those that leave. Darwin saw that long-distance dispersal played a key role in range expansion, and models show that dispersal distance can strongly affect population and community dynamics. But despite these wide-ranging implications we have little understanding of how variation in dispersal distance is maintained in natural populations and, more specifically, the fitness consequences of long-distance dispersal. My research uses a stream salamander system to address these gaps in our understanding of the proximal causes and consequences of variation in dispersal distance. This work does not support the widely held view that fitness consequences of long-distance dispersal are unpredictable, and instead suggests that consistent evolutionary mechanisms may explain the prevalence of long-distance dispersal in nature.

Speaker: Winsor H Lowe is an Associate Professor in the Division of Biological Sciences in the University of Montana. His research interests include the influence of spatial processes on evolution, as well as population biology, and community ecology. Winsor uses direct data on animal movement to explore the causes and consequences of dispersal. He hopes his work will expand basic understanding of the ecology and evolution of dispersal, and improve landscape-scale management and conservation efforts.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s