CIE Seminar Series 2014 – The real cost of high heating bills: thermoregulation and the evolution of bird beaks

Matthew SymondsSPEAKER: Dr Matthew Symonds, Marine Biology, Senior Lecturer, Centre for Integrative Ecology (CIE), School of Life & Environmental Sciences, Deakin University
DATE: Friday, 17th October 2014
LOCATION: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds, Room ka4.207
TIME: 2:00 pm
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Melbourne Campus at Burwood, Room LT4 (B3.05) and Warrnambool Campus, Room C1.13

ABSTRACT: Bird bills are iconic structures in evolutionary biology. Evolution in bill morphology has long been known to be associated with foraging and food availability, niche competition and sexual selection. Less well-appreciated is the important role bills play in thermoregulation.

I will discuss evidence that climate predicts bird bill morphology through the pattern known as Allen’s rule (larger extremities in warm climates). Further, I will consider how bill size can mediate behavioural thermoregulation in bird species. Finally, I will present evidence of increases in bill size in the past century concomitant with global warming​

BIO: Matt is senior lecturer in ecology at the Burwood campus of Deakin University. Formerly from the UK, Matt did his undergrad and PhD at the University of Cambridge, with a brief sojourn for masters at University of Nottingham.

Since coming to Australia as a Royal Society Travelling Research Fellow, Matt has done post-docs at University of Melbourne (including as an ARC Australian Postdoc) and at James Cook University.

His research interests are broad and cover insect pheromone evolution, bird macroecology and medicinal plant evolution. However, these interests are broadly united under the banner of using phylogenetic comparative approaches to derive understanding about the evolution of biodiversity.