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Inverness Highlands South, NC, United States

Morris J.R.,Brandeis University | Costa J.T.,Highlands Biological Station | Costa J.T.,Western Carolina University | Berry A.,Harvard University

Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species is at once familiar and unfamiliar. Everyone knows that the Origin introduced the world to the idea of evolution by natural selection, but few of us have actually read it. We suggest that it is worth taking the time not only to read what Darwin had to say, but also to use the Origin to teach both biology and writing. It provides scientific lessons in areas beyond evolutionary biology, such as ecology and biogeography. In addition, it provides valuable rhetorical lessons-how to construct an argument, write persuasively, make use of evidence, know your audience, and anticipate counterarguments. We have been using the Origin in various classes for several years, introducing new generations to Darwin, in his own words. © 2015, Society for the Study of Evolution. Source

Costa J.T.,Highlands Biological Station | Costa J.T.,Western Carolina University
Theory in Biosciences

Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913) and Charles Darwin (1809-1882) are honored as the founders of modern evolutionary biology. Accordingly, much attention has focused on their relationship, from their independent development of the principle of natural selection to the receipt by Darwin of Wallace's essay from Ternate in the spring of 1858, and the subsequent reading of the Wallace and Darwin papers at the Linnean Society on 1 July 1858. In the events of 1858 Wallace and Darwin are typically seen as central players, with Darwin's friends Charles Lyell (1797-1875) and Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817-1911) playing supporting roles. This narrative has resulted in an under-appreciation of a more central role for Charles Lyell as both Wallace's inspiration and foil. The extensive anti-transmutation arguments in Lyell's landmark Principles of Geology were taken as the definitive statement on the subject. Wallace, in his quest to solve the mystery of species origins, engaged with Lyell's arguments in his private field notebooks in a way that is concordant with his engagement with Lyell in the 1855 and 1858 papers. I show that Lyell was the object of Wallace's Sarawak Law and Ternate papers through a consideration of the circumstances that led Wallace to send his Ternate paper to Darwin, together with an analysis of the material that Wallace drew upon from the Principles. In this view Darwin was, ironically, intended for a supporting role in mediating Wallace's attempted dialog with Lyell. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. Source

Costa J.T.,Highlands Biological Station | Costa J.T.,Western Carolina University
Biology Letters

In 1963-1964 W. D. Hamilton introduced the concept of inclusive fitness, the only significant elaboration of Darwinian fitness since the nineteenth century. I discuss the origin of the modern fitness concept, providing context for Hamilton's discovery of inclusive fitness in relation to the puzzle of altruism. While fitness conceptually originates with Darwin, the term itself stems from Spencer and crystallized quantitatively in the early twentieth century. Hamiltonian inclusive fitness, with Price's reformulation, provided the solution to Darwin's 'special difficulty'-the evolution of caste polymorphism and sterility in social insects. Hamilton further explored the roles of inclusive fitness and reciprocation to tackle Darwin's other difficulty, the evolution of human altruism. The heuristically powerful inclusive fitness concept ramified over the past 50 years: the number and diversity of 'offspring ideas' that it has engendered render it a fitter fitness concept, one that Darwin would have appreciated. © 2013 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. Source

Mathews K.G.,Western Carolina University | Ruigrok M.S.,Highlands Biological Station | Mansion G.,Free University of Berlin
Systematic Botany

Sabatia (Gentianaceae) contains ca. 20 species, distributed mainly on the U. S. A. Gulf and Atlantic Coastal Plains. Our aims were to determine 1) phylogenetic relationships among Sabatia species, 2) the time and place of Sabatia's origin and main areas of diversification, 3) relationships among sympatric species, and 4) how morphological and karyological characters evolved. We sequenced five noncoding cpDNA regions and nrITS for 30 accessions of Sabatia, Gyrandra, and Eustoma. Parsimony, likelihood, and Bayesian phylogenetic analyses were performed. Bayesian dating was done on a reduced-taxon, combined molecular dataset. The maximum clade credibility chronogram was used for ancestral area reconstruction and character optimization. Correlations between distributional, environmental and phylogenetic matrices were tested with spatial analyses. Phylogenetic analyses reveal that a Sabatia + Gyrandra clade diverged in the late Middle Miocene, with Sabatia subsequently splitting into western and eastern Gulf Coast clades during the early Late Miocene. Further diversification took place in the Late Miocene-Pliocene, with more recent range expansion. Pliocene glacial/interglacial periods could have triggered range contraction/ expansion, associated with chromosomal changes. Closely related species of Sabatia tend to share both distributions and habitat types. Character optimization showed potential synapomorphies for a polymerous clade and a white-flowered clade. © Copyright 2015 by the American Society of Plant Taxonomists. Source

Brannon M.P.,Highlands Biological Station | Burt M.A.,Highlands Biological Station | Bost D.M.,Highlands Biological Station | Caswell M.C.,Highlands Biological Station
Southeastern Naturalist

Discarded bottles were inspected for skeletal remains at 220 roadside sites along the southeastern Blue Ridge escarpment of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia as a technique to examine the regional distributions of shrews. Vertebrate remains were found at approximately 63% of our study sites and in 4.5% of the open bottles we examined. Bottles collected a total of 553 specimens of small mammals representing 5 species of shrews and 6 species of rodents. The Northern Short-tailed Shrew (Blarina brevicauda) and the Smoky Shrew (Sorex fumeus) were abundant and distributed throughout the region, although Smoky Shrews were more strongly associated with mesic environments and higher altitudes (x̄ = 940.1 m ± 25.4 m). The Masked Shrew (S. cinereus) and the Southeastern Shrew (S. longirostris) exhibited contiguous allopatry, with Masked Shrews occurring exclusively in mesic forest habitats at high elevations (x̄ = 1126.7 ± 27.4 m), and Southeastern Shrews occurring only in xeric habitats at lower elevations (x̄ = 503.7 ± 64.9 m). Our study demonstrates the utility of discarded bottles as a quick and effective alternative method for surveying shrews, without the added mortality that occurs from pitfall- or snap-trapping. Source

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