24 Lug 2023 11:00

Investigating the influence of diet on mammalian ecology and evolution: are you what you eat?

Sala Riunioni B, edificio ZETA - Campus Scientifico via Torino (e Zoom)

Speaker: Dana Reuter, US NSF fellow

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Meeting ID: 840 3655 0367
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Titolo: Paleo Circle - II ed.: Investigating the influence of diet on mammalian ecology and evolution: are you what you eat?

In mammals, many traits co-vary with diet, allowing paleontologists to reconstruct the diets of extinct mammals and therefore test hypotheses about community structure and evolution. Our interpretation of the past relies on the knowledge we have gained about the diets of living mammals. Despite the many diet datasets and macroecology studies, there are still many gaps in our knowledge about the diets of mammals. Most macroecology and macroevolution studies have focused on specialist mammals with diets that are readily quantifiable. There are many open questions about how the diet omnivorous mammals, which mix various foods, co-vary with other traits such as body mass, morphology, and biogeography. The lack of omnivore focused ecomorphological studies, limit paleontologists’ ability to reconstruct omnivorous diets in the fossil record. Beyond omnivorous mammals, macroecology and macroevolutionary studies are limited by the unavailability of diet data. Datasets that aggregate individual diet records are a powerful tool for studying processes across geographic/ecological scales and highlighting which mammals are lacking diet data. In this seminar we will discuss how diet is correlated with other traits, how these correlations can be used, and how studying omnivores and diet variation can lead to new ecological insights.

Bio Sketch:
Dana is a paleoecologist who obtained her doctorate in Earth Sciences from the University of Oregon in 2021. In 2022 she became a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow. Her work focuses on understanding the processes that govern ecological diversity and community structure change. She does this by studying how diet is related to mammalian ecology and evolution. She has used a variety of tools such as morphological studies, food web reconstruction, and stable isotope analyses to investigate the ecological change that is documented in the Oregon fossil record. Her current work aims to understand omnivore ecomorphology and biogeography.


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