15. Evolution and Ecology of Bird Diversity

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Science: A Candle In The Dark
Episode 15: Evolution and Ecology of Bird Diversity
Airdate: 22 March 2016
Host: Dr. Madhusudan Katti
Guest: Dr. Christopher Trisos, Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC)

Transcript: Hello and welcome to “Science: A Candle In The Dark”- our monthly conversation about the wonders of science and how it illuminates our path in this astonishing universe. In association with the Central Valley Café Scientifique, we strive to make science a part of our public discourse, especially here in California’s Central Valley. 

I’m your host, Dr. Madhusudan Katti, from the Biology Department at Fresno State.

March is a month of madness, they say, from the madness of hares running around crazily in the English countryside on a surge of hormones, to the contests of sporting teams and their fans rooting for them in the annual March Madness of college basketball in America. If you’re the nerdy non-sporting type, like me, however, you might want to follow a different kind of March Madness competition with a science and nature flavor. 

I’m talking about March Mammal Madness, the new springtime competition created by anthropologist Dr. Katie Hinde four years ago. You may remember Dr. Hinde from our round table on Darwin Day when she was one of the panelists. Mammal March Madness pits a wonderful variety of mammal species, mostly real, but also some imaginary ones, against each other in brackets I’m told mirror the NCAA basketball version. The species are chosen by a team of biologists who use actual biological information about the mammals in a complex algorithm to determine the head-to-head winners. All the action takes place on Twitter, on weekday evenings and you can follow along using the hashtag 2016MMM. I believe we have just had the sweet sixteen round and are now down to 8 mammals, and you can join in to find out who is left standing as the champion by the end of the month. For more information, go to mammalssuck.blogspot.com or #2016MMM on Twitter.

Interview: My guest today is Dr. Christopher Trisos, a postdoctoral scholar at the Socio Environmental Synthesis Center in Annapolis Maryland. Dr. Trisos hails from South Africa where he got his undergraduate degrees in botany, ecology, and economics. He then moved to Oxford University in the UK as a Rhodes Scholar, and did his Ph.D. research on the evolutionary ecology of birds. Specifically, he used approaches from both evolutionary biology and ecology to test the importance of habitat type, dispersal, interspecific competition and speciation on patterns of species coexistence in South American birds. That will be the subject of his upcoming presentation at Peeve’s Pub next month when he is visiting Fresno and will speak at the Central Valley Café Scientifique. I should also mention that Chris and I have been collaborating over the past year, leveraging his expertise in analyzing the distribution of bird species diversity using evolutionary and ecological approaches to understand how urbanization and cities influence when and where we find birds now.

Outro: And that’s our show for today.“Science: A Candle In The Dark” will be back on Tuesday, April 26th. The Central Valley Café Scientifique will meet at Peeve’s Pub on Wed, April 6th, where you can join our guest today to learn more about why and where the diversity of birds are in Peru.

This show is produced by Madhusudan Katti and Vic Bedoian, and the theme music was composed by Scott Hatfield. 

With that, so long, listeners, and until next month, happy sciencing, because, remember: science is a verb!

For more information about the Café and announcements about upcoming events, please visit our website, or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Why birds live where they do, in Peru

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Whether you are a serious/amateur birdwatcher, or simply curious about the organisms sharing our natural world, you must from time to time wonder why there are so many different kinds of birds around you. Why are there are so many different kinds of species in some places? For example, the Amazonian forests of Peru can harbor over 1000 species of birds, i.e., 10% of all the world’s bird species, within a 100km X 100km area of forest. How did this diversity evolve, and how are so many species managing to coexist? If questions like these intrigue you, you will want to attend our next Café Scientifique event!

South African evolutionary biologist Dr. Christopher Trisos, currently a postdoctoral scholar at the Socio Environmental Synthesis Center in Annapolis, MD, will share insights from his analysis of bird communities in Peru, and what we know about how species diversity arises and is maintained.

You can get a preview of the topic on the next edition of our radio show/podcast Science: A Candle In The Dark, which airs on 88.1FM KFCF88.1FM KFCF in Fresno and the surrounding valley every 4th tuesday of the month at 3:30 PM. The podcast is available shortly thereafter. So tune in live, or listen to the podcast before joining us to hear directly from our guest!

Speaker: Dr. Christopher Trisos, Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC).

When: Wednesday, 6 April 2016, 7:00 PM

Where: Peeve’s Public House
, 1243 Fulton Mall, Fresno, CA 93721.

Contact: 559-278-2460 (cafe inquiries) / 559-573-5735 (Pub’s number).

Here’s the full poster for this event – please feel free to download, print, and/or share with your friends and family:

14. Postmodern Winemaking – a #ScienceCandle birthday celebration

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Science: A Candle In The Dark
Episode 14: Postmodern Winemaking
Airdate: 23 February 2016
Host: Dr. Madhusudan Katti
Guest: Matt Brain, Fresno State’s Winemaker

Topic: In this episode we celebrate the first anniversary of this podcast, with a look back at the wide range of topics covered since our first episode aired in February 2016. With Fresno State’s winemaker Matt Brain in the studio, we raise a glass of some wine he created, and learn a bit about the science and art of winemaking in the postmodern era. And we toast our host station, KFCF 88.1FM, and especially, the station’s Executive Director Rych Withers and our producer Vic Bedoian for taking a chance by putting a scientist on the Central Valley airwaves to talk about science every month!

For more information about the Café and announcements about upcoming events, please visit our website, or find us on Facebook and Twitter.