CIE Seminar Series 2015 – Behind Anemone Lines: Do anemones fit the predictions of the boldness syndrome?

David AyreSPEAKER: Professor David Ayre, School of Biological Sciences, University of Wollongong
DATE: Friday, 28th August 2015
LOCATION: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds, room KE1.207 (new CADET building)
TIME: 12:00 noon
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Melbourne Campus at Burwood, room T3.05; and Warrnambool Campus, room G1.01 (Percy Baxter LT).

ABSTRACT: Many species of sea compete aggressively for space using readily characterized fighting behaviours and for some species aggressive dominance is known to be correlated with speed or attack and investment in weaponry.

Some studies have claimed correlations between speed of attack or victory in paired contests and other characters such as duration of startle response and rates of pedal locomotion suggest that anemones fit the predictions of the ‘boldness syndrome’ i.e. bold individuals should be competitive dominants.

The North American sea anemone Anthopleura elegantissima provides a striking test of this idea since earlier work has shown that fighting ability has a genetic basis and competition involves clonal ‘armies. Here I compare the results of laboratory based dominance trials and field based assessments of the capacity of clones to re-occupy experimentally cleared space.

I argue that Anthopleura provides a poor fit to the predictions of the boldness syndrome and the data are better explained by tradeoffs between investment in weaponry and investment in other life-history characters such as rates of fission and hence the ability to generate recruits.

BIO: I am an evolutionary ecologist and have always been interested in understanding how varying life history tactics influence the genetic makeup of populations. I completed my PhD at the University of Western Australia, a postdoc at AIMS and since 1985 I have been at the University of Wollongong.

For most of my career I have maintained two separate but complementary research themes – one focused on reproduction and dispersal of mostly terrestrial plants and asking questions about mate choice, hybridization and the effects of exotic pollinators.

My most recent work focuses on the genetic rescue of arid zone Acacias – and the other focused on reproduction and dispersal of marine animals (both invertebrates and fish). Here continuing themes have included understanding the roles of sexual and asexual reproduction and the extent of localized adaptation in modular organisms such as anemones and corals and the importance of inter-clonal aggression in structuring populations.

Appointments with guest speaker may be made via Craig Sherman

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