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Darwin Day – On the Evolution of Echolocation in Bats (Grand Rapids)

Wednesday, February 12, 2020
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

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Wealthy Theatre Annex – Front Studio (map below)
1110 Wealthy Street SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506 United States

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Organized by:
Jennifer Beahan
Phone: 616-698-2342 x801
Email: jbeahan@centerforinquiry.org


Join us for our annual Darwin Day Lecture as Dr. Amy Russell, Ph.D. shares her lecture: On the Evolution of Echolocation in Bats: By Means of Natural Selection?

Bats are one of the most fascinating groups of mammals, having evolved the capacity for ultrasonic echolocation and true powered flight. In addition, they are one of the most diverse groups of mammals, having over 1400 species described to date, and are extraordinarily long-lived given their small body size. Echolocation in bats is a complex trait, involving the coordination of sound production and auditory reception within a variable environment. Across the Order, bat species are capable of both constant-frequency (CF) and frequency-modulated (FM) echolocation, which allows CF-echolocating bats to navigate in a densely cluttered environment and allows FM-echolocating bats to exploit a greater diversity of insect prey.

In the western hemisphere, only one genus of bats, Pteronotus, has evolved CF echolocation. Over the past 10 years, Dr. Russell has studied the evolution of echolocation frequency in Caribbean populations of Pteronotus bats. Along with her colleagues, she has used genetic analyses to reconstruct the evolutionary history of these island populations, acoustic analyses to characterize variation in echolocation traits among populations, and morphological analyses to correct for the confounding effects of body size on acoustic properties. Using a new approach to distinguish the effect of different evolutionary forces, they have shown that natural selection is influencing echolocation in at least one island population of bats. Differences in echolocation call frequency may be reinforced through cultural evolution in these distinct populations.

We host local and national guest lecturers on a wide variety of topics related to CFI’s mission. Topics often include: science, religion, philosophy, social issues, politics, atheism, humanism, agnosticism, skepticism, deism, evolution, morality and ethics, secularism, rationalism, psychology, and others.

Additional Information
Exterior image of the Wealthy Theatre Annex Building
Wealthy Theatre Annex Building – 1110 Wealthy St. SE

The Wealthy Theatre Annex is two buildings down from the main Theatre Building – See Map below.

FREE Parking is available in the Wealthy Theatre lot behind the Theatre and Annex Buildings via Barth/Sigsbee or the driveway East of the Annex Building. Street parking is also free after 5pm. Handicap parking is available immediately behind the Annex Building.

After the meeting, join us at Brick Road Pizza, just down the block at 1017 Wealthy St SE in Grand Rapids, to continue the conversation, and enjoy food & drinks. See Map above or View Map on Google Maps.

CFI MI values the full participation for all attendees at our events, including individuals with disabilities, in accordance with our Event Culture and Expectations Policy. Requests for reasonable accommodation may be made by contacting the event host at least three days prior to the event.

Cost: FREE / Suggested Donation $5. Ways to Support CFI & Donate Online

About Amy Russell, PhD

Assistant Professor of Biology, Grand Valley State University

Dr. Amy Russell was born and raised in Lancaster, Ohio. While working on her undergraduate degree in Biology and Environmental Science at Bowling Green State University, Amy became involved in research, investigating the evolution of transposable DNA elements in Drosophila fruit flies during the academic year. Over the summers, Amy conducted ecological research through Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, tracking the growth of gypsy moth populations in the forests of northeastern Ohio. After graduating in 1994, Amy continued her fruit fly research for her M.S. degree, measuring levels of transposable element activity in Drosophila populations from across the world. Motivated to switch study organisms, Amy then pursued her Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, studying the population genetics of Brazilian free-tailed bats. After graduating in 2003, Amy then spent two years as a Gaylord Donnelly postdoctoral fellow at Yale University, studying the biogeography of bats in Madagascar. She then worked as a research fellow at the University of Arizona, studying the genetic demography of non-human great apes. She was hired as an Assistant Professor at Grand Valley State University in 2008.
At GVSU, Amy’s research program focuses on the intersection of multiple fields: where phylogenetic and population genetic approaches can inform questions of recent speciation, where coalescent approaches can help to discriminate among biogeographic hypotheses, and where molecular ecology and simulation-based analyses can discriminate among demographic scenarios influenced by wildlife disease. Her work has been funded by the U.S. Department of Fish & Wildlife, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Park Service. She teaches classes including Evolution, Genetics, Population Genetics, and Introductory Biology.