Developing a broader perspective for marine communities in an area of climate change: insights from the Galapagos Islands

Developing a broader perspective for marine communities in an area of climate change: insights from the Galapagos Islands

September 25, 2014 4:00 PM  – 5:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

Jon D. Witman, Professor, Biology Department, Brown University

Research Interest:
My research is directed toward understanding the dynamics of populations and communities living in marine hard substrate habitats. Our lab is conducting research focused around three themes: 1) physical forcing of marine benthic ecosystems, 2) studies on the origin vs. the maintenance of pattern, and 3) marine biodiversity. How community structuring processes vary with scale is a consideration that pervades all aspects of our research.

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Interested in Marine Sciences? Have lunch with Brown University Professor Jon Witman

Interested in Marine Sciences? Have lunch with Brown University Professor Jon Witman

September 26, 2014 12:00 PM  – 1:00 PM
Adams Hall, Room 111 (Common Room)

Jon Witman will join students and faculty for an informal pizza lunch and a short video about Cashes Ledge in the Gulf of Maine-- one of the most dynamic hotspots of biodiversity in New England and the entire North Atlantic, and an area where he conducts research and collaborates on conservation efforts. Professor Witman will also share his insight into field-study based marine science programs an area particularly relevant to Bowdoin as it prepares to launch the new Marine Science Semester program next fall.

For more information, see the webpage.

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Dynamical Models of Locomotion

Dynamical Models of Locomotion

October 3, 2014 12:30 PM  – 1:30 PM
Searles Science Building, Room 315

Dynamical systems theory uses normal forms as simple models for empirical observations. This lecture focuses upon stable limit cycles as models of animal locomotion. Utilizing motion capture data of running cockroaches and people and flying fruit flies and mosquitoes, we test the anchors and templates hypotheses formulated by Full and collaborators. These hypotheses propose that animals have evolved so that their motion resembles a low dimensional dynamical system, and that control is based upon a small number of quantities. This lecture will introduce these hypotheses and reformulate them as a statement about the motion of a dynamical system near a periodic orbit. It will then describe the strategy we developed to analyze motion capture data from this perspective. We end with new questions about stochastic perturbations and data driven models of dynamical systems.

John Guckenheimer, Abram R. Bullis Professor in Mathematics, Cornell University, will present the Dan E. Christie Mathematics Lecture. Lecture is sponsored by the Mathematics Department and Digital and Computational Studies.

John Guckenheimer started his career in pure mathematics, and is now one of the leaders of applied dynamical systems. Last year, he and co-author Phil Holmes were awarded the AMS Leroy P. Steele Prize for Mathematical Exposition for their 1983 book, Nonlinear Oscillations, Dynamical Systems, and Bifurcations of Vector Fields (Springer-Verlag). John is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for Advancement of Science, the American Mathematical Society, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, where he served as president in 1997-98. His research encompasses mathematical biology, systems with multiple time scales, and computational algorithms.

This lecture integrates mathematics, biology, and digital and computational ways of thinking.

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Dr. Naomi Oreskes: "How to Stop Disastrous Climate Change"

Dr. Naomi Oreskes: "How to Stop Disastrous Climate Change"

October 3, 2014 12:30 PM  – 2:00 PM
Visual Arts Center, Kresge Auditorium

Naomi Oreskes is Professor of the History of Science and Affiliated Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences. She recently arrived at Harvard after spending 15 years as Professor of History and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego, and Adjunct Professor of Geosciences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Professor Oreskes's research focuses on the earth and environmental sciences, with a particular interest in understanding scientific consensus and dissent.

Her 2004 essay "The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change" (Science 306:1686) has been widely cited, both in the U.S. and abroad, including in the Royal Society's winning film, An Inconvenient Truth, and in Ian McEwan's novel 'Solar'. Her opinion pieces have appeared in The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Times (London), Nature, Science, The New Statesman, Frankfurter Allgemeine and elsewhere. 'Issues from Tobacco to Global Warming", co-authored with Erik M. Conway, was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Time Book Prize, and received the 2011 Watson-David Prize from the History of Science Society. Organized by Bowdoin Climate Action, and co-sponsored by the Environmental Studies Program and the Department of Earth & Oceanographic Science.

A book signing and Q & A will follow this talk at Reed House.

Recent books written by Dr. Oreskes include: The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future (2014, Columbia University Press) and Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming (2010 New York: Bloomsbury Press).

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Multiple Stable States: Theory and Evidence

Multiple Stable States: Theory and Evidence

October 9, 2014 4:00 PM  – 5:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

One of the most vexing problems in ecology is how distinctly different communities, such as mussel beds and seaweed stands that occur on rocky shores in Maine, can occur in the same ecosystem. These communities often persist for long periods, yet small, temporary shifts in environmental conditions can cause an unexpected tipping of the system and one type of community may be replaced by another. How can alternative communities be both persistent and yet so susceptible? The theory of these systems, known as multiple stable states, is well understood, but whether multiple stable states actually exist in nature has remained a hotly debated subject and, not surprisingly, definitive examples continue to be elusive. The past decade has seen resurgent interest in the topic because of large-scale changes in the species composition of many ecosystems around the globe and the extent to which anthropogenic activities and climate change may underlie these sudden shifts. The occurrence of multiple stable states has implications for how we manage ecosystems and our basic understanding of the roles of historical and contemporary processes in determining patterns of organismal distribution and abundance. I will present the results from the past 18 years of an ongoing project investigating whether rockweed stands and mussel beds represent alternative community states in sheltered bays of the Gulf of Maine.

Dr. Steve Dungeon is Professor of Biology, at the California State University, Northridge.  He received his PhD from the University of Maine in 1992. His research interests focus on the unique biological features of clonal algae and invertebrates, the evolution of life history and morphological traits and how these traits influence the dynamics of the communities in which they live. The temperate rocky intertidal zone is the experimental system used to explore these concepts.

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