EEB Seminar: February 6th

Kyle Elliott will talk on

Sex, Death and Rock’n’roll: Correlates of lifetime reproductive success in a long-lived seabird

at 12:30 in the EEB lounge (BioSciences 4338)

Roughly twenty percent of monogamous animals produce eighty percent of the offspring surviving to the following generation. What’s so special about those twenty percenters? To answer that question, I will examine correlates of success in two long-lived bird species, thick-billed murres (Uria lomvia) and black-legged kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla). As survival is the main predictor of lifetime reproductive success, I will pay particular emphasis to the role of physiological and behavioural aging on longevity and reproductive success. Partnerships also play an important role in determining reproductive success and successful birds tend to have successful partners. For instance, partnerships that involve one risk-prone and one risk-averse individual have higher fitness than those that involve two risk-prone or two risk-averse individuals. Yet, even after accounting for sex and ageing, the vast majority of the variation in lifetime reproductive success remains unaccounted for. I will end by examining some of the behavioural and physiological attributes of those avian “rock stars” that produce young year after year. Although “individual quality” certainly plays a role, after examining 46 different behavioural and physiological parameters, I believe a large proportion of the overall success comes down to mere luck.

a black-legged kittiwake with two chicks

Kyle recently finished his PhD from the University of Manitoba, where he worked with Drs. James Hare and Gary Anderson. Kyle is interested in aging and how this process affects physiology and behaviours, and explores these ideas using seabirds. Birds, unlike mammals, show little to no physical signs of aging and, contrary to most life-history models, many high-latitude breeding seabirds are some of the longest-lived birds. Much of Kyle’s fieldwork took place in Nunavut where Polar Bears traversed steep cliffs to eat seabird nests and where rock cairns, constructed long ago, rise from the tundra. Kyle has also worked on energetics and the relative costs of traveling through different mediums (e.g. air vs. water) to understand the evolution of flightlessness in penguins.


Everyone is welcome to attend
Coffee and treats available at the seminar

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