Talk by Michael Doebeli, Mathematics and Zoology and 2009 Distinguished Scholar in Residence
The diversity of life is astounding. All life evolved from a much more uniform ancestral state, which begs the question about the mechanisms for the evolution of diversity. Traditional evolutionary theory predicts uniformity: natural selection, acting on organisms under given environmental conditions, produces a unique, optimally adapted phenotype. This view, according to which diversity only emerges through a change in conditions over space or time, misses out on the important perspective that diversification can itself be an adaptive process that is driven by biological interactions, such as competition for resources. In this talk I will briefly review basic theoretical concepts underlying such adaptive diversification, and then give a few salient examples for this process, including results from experimental evolution in the bacterium E. coli. I will conclude by discussing how evolutionary concepts could help us understand the emergence of diversity in human culture, e.g. in languages and religions.
Dinner and talk 6:30 to 9:00 pm, but welcome at 6:00 pm reception.