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K-State Today

December 1, 2016

Division of Biology Seminar Dec. 2

Submitted by Division of Biology

Lauren  O'Connell

Lauren O'Connell, of the Center for Systems Biology at Harvard University, will present "Chemical and Cognitive Ecology of Poison Frogs" as part of the Division of Biology Seminar Series at 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, in 221 Ackert Hall.

The abstract for the lecture is based on evolutionary innovations in animal physiology and behavior. The O'Connell Lab uses poison frogs to study two evolutionary innovations: the physiological mechanisms of toxin sequestration and the neural basis of parental behavior. Ecology links these poison frogs' traits together, where predation and spatial structure of the environment has driven the evolution of — and variation within — both chemical defenses and parental behaviors.

O'Connell will first discuss chemical defenses in the little devil frog or "oophaga sylvatica," where she has found that both the environment and genetics influence toxin profiles across various populations. O'Connell will then discuss the neural basis of tadpole transport behavior, where they have used comparative approaches between various poison frog species that differ in reproductive strategies to gain insight into the mechanisms underlying tadpole piggyback rides.

Finally, O'Connell will tie both chemical ecology and parental care together to discuss her work on the convergent evolution of egg-feeding maternal behavior in South American and Malagasy poison frogs, where they have uncovered the neural basis and adaptive significance of this unique behavior.

If you would like to visit with O'Connell, contact Ryan Greenway greenrs@k-state.edu

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