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.

11. Birds in the City

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Science: A Candle In The Dark
Episode 11: Birds in the City: social and ecological drivers of urban biodiversity
Airdate: 
22 December
 2015
Host: Dr. Madhusudan Katti
Guests: Pedro Garcia

Topic:  Cities have become the primary habitat for most of humanity. They are also habitat for many other species even as we continue to fragment and destroy and disrupt natural ecosystems across the planet. How well other species manage to survive or not in our cities depends on how we manage the urban landscape, whether mindful of its impacts on wildlife or caring only for human development. Pedro Garcia, currently working with the California Conservation Corps, recently completed a masters thesis project studying the effects of human activities on bird species diversity and distribution in the Fresno-Clovis Metropolitan Area in California’s Central Valley. Here he speaks about how he found a connection with nature while growing up as an immigrant child in a California town, what he has learned about urban reconciliation ecology, and how it relates to his Native American heritage and his current work in conservation.

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

Birds in the City

Lights at dusk

Cities are dynamic ecosystems where social and ecological factors interact to influence the amount and distribution of urban biodiversity. This January, Pedro Garcia will present insights from his analysis of data from the Fresno Bird Count (a citizen science project) to help understand what shapes bird species diversity at residential and city-wide scales in the Fresno-Clovis Metro Area.

Join us for an evening of conversation about how the study of social-ecological interactions helps us understand and manage urban ecosystems better, especially in times of stress like the drought now affecting California.

Speaker: Pedro Garcia, California Conservation Corps

When: Wednesday, 6 January 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: