Fwd: Seminar University of Canberra 7 March

To: Canberrabirds <>
Subject: Fwd: Seminar University of Canberra 7 March
From: Janet Russell <>
Date: Tue, 4 Mar 2014 13:33:41 +1100
Perhaps I am too simple-minded! Robin is very possibly right. Communication departments of universities may have made assumptions just like I did. I will leave it to others to make their judgement.

Janet Russell

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Robin Hide <>
Date: Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Subject: Seminar University of Canberra 7 March
To: Janet Russell <>

Not necessarily, I think ?





My research interests lie at the intersection between ecology, evolution, behavior and theory. In particular, I am fascinated by movement: a behavior found in all organisms that is often highly adaptable on relatively short time scales, and influences the ecology of populations in a feedback loop. Broadly, I am interested in questions like: "Ultimately, why do organisms disperse or migrate?" and "What consequences does movement have for individuals, populations, and species?" To answer these questions, I construct mathematical models, which are fantastic tools for studying the interface between ecological and evolutionary processes.

Read more:


What impact does dispersal (particularly individual differences in dispersal) have at the population level in terms of structure, dynamics, viability and spread?

Dispersal, the one-way movement of individuals (or propagules) to a breeding site, is an individual behavior, but one that in large part determines the spatial, genetic, social and demographic structure of a population. Population structure can in turn influence dispersal strategies, meaning that individuals and populations are inextricably linked via dispersal. We have developed spatially-explicit simulations to show that those dispersal strategies favored by individuals can negatively impact the size and connectivity of populations. We have also developed a two-sex integrodifference equation model where males and females have different dispersal and mating behaviors. We find that both sex-bias in dispersal, and the mating system of a species, massively influence how fast an introduced population can spread. Currently we are exploring how mating and reproduction interact with dispersal to favor the evolution of sex-biased dispersal in the first place.

Read more:

  • Shaw AK, Kokko H (in review) “Mate-finding, Allee effects, and selection for sex-biased dispersal.”
  • Shaw AK, Jalasvuori M, Kokko H (in press) "Population-level consequences of risky dispersal."Oikos.
  • Miller TEX*, Shaw AK*, Inouye BD, Neubert MG (2011) "Sex-biased dispersal and the speed of two-sex invasions." Am. Nat. 177:549-561

Next steps:



What ultimately drives animals to migrate? Why are some species migratory and others  sedentary? 

Migration, the predictable seasonal movement between multiple habitats is a surprisingly common behavior seen in birds, fish, reptiles, insects, mammals, amphibians, even crustaceans. While the main driver of migration seems to be a need for suitable habitat for breeding, feeding or survival, understanding how changing conditions drive migration and why we see so many animals migrating in groups, is not well understood. We have developed a model of the evolution of migration, using video game cards to run massive simulations. We find that grouping allows individuals to effectively 'vote' about the best way in which to travel in an uncertain environment, and make better decisions by pooling information. The conditions that favor the evolution of migration over residency depend strongly on the ultimate motivation for migrating (to breed, feed or to escape harsh climate). This means that future changes in environmental conditions have the potential to impact migratory species in quite different ways, depending in part on the reason particular species migrate.

Using a species of migratory land crab we show that its migration timing is closely tied to sufficient rainfall and that projected global changes in rainfall patterns will likely have a negative impact on this species.

Read more:

Next steps:

  • Ongoing collaborations with: Gita Gnanadesikan, Tim Reluga, James Watson
  • How do these different motivations for migration vary taxonomically and geographically?
  • How will the motivation behind migration influence the ability of a species to adapt its movement in response to changing conditions?


Under what conditions should individuals of migratory species skip migration and how frequently?

Partial migration, where only some individuals within a population migrate while others do not, is fairly common among migratory species. Most theoretical work on partial migration focuses on species where individuals migrate between breeding and wintering grounds. In these species, the decision to migrate or stay resident is based on tradeoffs between survival and competition. However, partial migration can also occur in species where individuals migrate between feeding and breeding grounds. In these species, migration is tied to reproduction, so the decision to migrate or stay is based on tradeoffs between current and future reproduction. We have developed the first set of models based on this second type of partial migration. We find that partial migration is expected to occur more frequently as the mortality cost of migration increases, and when there is a fecundity benefit to storing energy over several years before reproducing. Stochastic environments can also favor partial migration.

These same models can also be used to understand breeding frequency in any species with 'intermittent breeding' where individuals wait several years between breeding attempts. 

We also show that for a species of land crab with partial migration, global climate change (based on projections) will likely reduce the frequency at which individuals migrate, which could have quite a negative impact for this species.

Read more:


Other areas of interest:

  • To what extent can pathogens and parasites influence the movement of their hosts?
  • How does the motivation for movement (and the corresponding activity carried out in each location, e.g., foraging, breeding, hibernation) influence the acquisition and transmission of parasites and pathogens?
  • Does movement differ in terrestrial versus aquatic environments and what consequences does this have in terms of adaptability?
  • How does movement interact with other strategies for dealing with variable environments (e.g., hibernation, diet flexibility)?
  • Do evolved movement strategies shift populations towards stable, periodic, or chaotic dynamics?



From: Janet Russell [mailto:m("","gidajan");');" target="_blank">]
Sent: Monday, 3 March 2014 5:39 PM
To: Canberrabirds
Subject: [canberrabirds] Seminar University of Canberra 7 March


For your interest. I tried to send you the more appealing flyer but it was too large to get through.


Although it doesn't mention birds, the flyer has pictures of birds so assume that they must be the subject.




Ph:   +612 6251 8949
M:      0406 944 462

Ph:   +612 6251 8949
M:      0406 944 462
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