Posts Tagged: Scott Carroll
Evolutionary biology techniques can and must be used to help solve global challenges in agriculture, medicine and environmental sciences, they said.
Science Express makes important papers available to readers before they appear in the journal Science. The first-of-its-kind study will appear in a November edition of the journal.
“Evolutionary biology is often overlooked in the study of global challenges,” said lead author Scott, with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and the Institute for Contemporary Evolution, also in Davis. “By looking at humanity's problems across the domains of nature conservation, food production and human health, it is clear that we need to strengthen evolutionary biology throughout the disciplines and develop a shared language among them.”
The study calls attention to how evolutionary biology techniques can be used to address challenges in agriculture, medicine and environmental sciences, said Carroll, noting that these techniques, although seemingly unrelated, work within a similar set of evolutionary processes.
“These techniques range from limiting the use of antibiotics to avoid resistant bacteria and breeding crops with desired benefits such as flood tolerant rice, to less commonly implemented strategies such as gene therapy to treat human disease, and planting non-native plants to anticipate climate change,” Carroll said.
“A particular worry is the unaddressed need for management of evolution that spans multiple sectors, such as occurs in the spread of new infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance genes between natural, human health and agricultural systems.”
In their paper, the nine researchers—two from UC Davis, one from UCLA and six from universities in Denmark, New Zealand, Maine, Minnesota, Washington state and Arizona--crafted a graphic wheel divided into three sectors, food, health and environment and cited the challenges that link them together, including rapid revolution and phenotype environment mismatch in more slowly reproducing or threatened species.
Carroll said the underlying causes of societal challenges such as food security, emerging disease and biodiversity loss “have more in common than we think.”
“Humans, pathogens and all other life on earth adapt to their environment through evolution, but some adaptation happens too quickly and some too slowly to benefit human society,” Carroll said. “Current efforts to overcome societal challenges are likely only to create larger problems if evolutionary biology is not swiftly and widely implementedto achieve sustainable development.”
Society faces two sorts of challenges from evolution, the research team said. “The first occurs when pests and pathogens we try to kill or control persist or even prosper because the survivors and their offspring can resist our actions,” Carroll said. “The second challenge arises when species we value adapt too slowly, including humans.”
Although practices in health, agriculture and environmental conservation differ, each field can better target challenges using the same applications of evolutionary biology, they said.
For example, when a farmer plants a crop that is susceptible to pests, he might actually help the agricultural community as a whole by slowing down evolution of pesticide resistance, the authors said, citing an applied evolutionary biology tactic used in agriculture.
Planting pest-friendly crops has been used in the United States with good results, the team said. Farmers planting these crops slow the evolution of resistance to genetically modified corn and other crops. Pests then reproduce in abundance eating the susceptible plants, and when a rare resistant mutant matures on a toxic diet, it is most likely to mate with a susceptible partner, keeping susceptibility alive. This approach works to suppress the unwanted evolution on the whole, but farmers will have sacrificed a short-term gain for the long-term good.
Similar innovative solutions exist across the fields of medicine and environmental conservation, they said.
“This is an example of how implementing applied evolutionary biology without a plan for regulatory measures may come at short-term costs to some individuals that others may avoid.” Jorgensen said. “By using regulatory tools, decision makers such as local communities and governments play a crucial role in ensuring that everybody gains from the benefits of using evolutionary biology to realize the long-term goals of increasing food security, protecting biodiversity and improving human health and well-being.”
Other co-authors are Michael T. Kinnison, University of Maine; Carl Bergstrom, University of Washington; R. Ford Denison, University of Minnesota; Peter Gluckman, University of Auckland, New Zealand; Thomas B. Smith, UCLA; Sharon Strauss, UC Davis Department of Evolution and Ecology and Center for Population Biology, and Bruce Tabashnik, University of Arizona.
Carroll is an affiliate of the Sharon Lawler lab, UC Davis Entomology and Nematology. The research was funded in part by the National Science Foundation and the Australian-American Fulbright Commission.
The pink bollworm, a global pest of cotton, has evolved resistance to genetically modified cotton in India, but not in Arizona where farmers have planted refuges of conventional cotton to reduce selection for resistance. (Photo by Alex Yelich, University of Arizona)
The mutual adaption of native and non-native species is changing best practices for promoting biodiversity, acknowledges UC Davis evolutionary ecologist Scott Carroll, founding director of the Institute for Contemporary Evolution and a member of the Sharon Lawler lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
What can we do? Scott advocates interdisciplinary solutions.
Carroll will discuss “An Approach to Conservation that Reconciles Past, Present and Future Landscapes in Nature” at 6 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 30 at the Commonwealth Club of California, located at 595 Market St., San Francisco. This is part of the ongoing forum topic, “Science of Conservation and Biodiversity in the 21st century.”
A networking reception begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by the program at 6. The cost is $20 for non-members; $8 for members, and $7 for students (with valid ID). Registration is available through the website, http://www.commonwealthclub.org/ or by telephoning (415) 597-6705.
Non-club-members can enjoy the program at the discounted rate of $8 (rather than $20), using the coupon code listed below:
Thursday, Jan. 30, 6 p.m. - Scott Carroll: Conciliation Biology: An Approach to Conservation that Reconciles Past, Present and Future Landscapes in Nature. Coupon Code: friendsforcarroll. For program detail and registration, please see: http://www.commonwealthclub.org/events/2014-01-30/scott-carroll-conciliation-biology
Carroll, who directs the Institute for Contemporary Evolution, does research on patterns of ongoing evolution in wild and anthropogenic environments. His studies on evolutionary changes in soapberry bugs in response to plant introductions are seminal contributions to our understanding of diversification.
The UC Davis evolutionary ecologist is the co-editor of the book, Conservation Biology: Evolution in Action (Oxford University Press, 2008). with Charles Fox, professor of insect genetics, behavior and evolutionary ecology, University of Kentucky.
Carroll co-authored a research paper that was selected in 2013 as one of the top 100 most influential papers ever published by the worldwide British Ecological Society, headquartered in London. The 13-page article, “Adaptive Versus Non-Adaptive Phenotypic Plasticity and the Potential for Contemporary Adaptation in New Environments,” is published in the April 2007 (Volume 21) in the British Ecological Society’s journal, Functional Ecology.
The Commonwealth Club of California is the nation's oldest and largest public affairs forum. It brings more than 400 annual events on topics ranging across politics, culture, society and the economy to 20,000 members. Its mission: to be the leading national forum open to all for the impartial discussion of public issues important to the membership, community and nation.
Founded in 1903, The Commonwealth Club has played host to a diverse and distinctive array of speakers, from Teddy Roosevelt in 1911 to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor Alec Baldwin and author Christopher Hitchens in recent years. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Bill Gates have all given landmark speeches at The Club.
For members outside the Bay Area, the Club's weekly radio broadcast — the oldest in the U.S., dating back to 1924 — is carried across the nation on public and commercial radio stations. The website archive features audio and video of our recent programs, as well as selected speeches from our long and distinguished history.
Two More UC Speakers Pending
Talks by two more UC scientists, butterfly expert Arthur Shapiro of the UC Davis Department of Evolution and Ecology and forest ecologist Joe McBride of UC Berkeley, are pending at the Commonwealth Club.
Shapiro will speak on "Ecological Communities and the March of Time" at noon, Monday, March 24, while McBride will discuss "The History, Ecology and Future of Eucalyptus Plantations in the Bay Area at noon Wednesday, April 9.
The soapberry bug is one of the insects that Scott Carroll studies. See his website at http://soapberrybug.org/. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
That they're Public Enemy No. 1?
According to a recent Nature journal essay, non-natives are so vilified today that a “pervasive bias” exists against non-native species, a bias embraced by “the public, conservationists, and managers and policy-makers, as well by as many scientists, throughout the world.”
The native-vs.-non-native species distinction appears to be the “guiding principle” in today’s conservation and restoration management, say 19 ecologists in their essay, “Don’t Judge Species on Their Origins.”
Mark Davis, a biology professor at Macalester College, St. Paul, Minn., is the lead author. The other co-authors include Scott Carroll of UC Davis.
Carroll, an ecologist in professor Sharon Lawler’s lab, and the founding director of the Davis-based Institute for Contemporary Evolution, contributed his work on conciliation biology to the thought-provoking essay. He holds a doctorate in biology from the University of Utah.
“Global change alters conditions for all species, and from a practical perspective, origin can be only one of many criteria we consider,” Carroll told us. “Appraising non-native organisms more openly invites us to more seriously contemplate our aims when managing novel communities of mixed origin.”
Carroll is often out chasing soapberry bugs (a key research interest), writing research papers and delivering presentations. He considers soapberry bugs "wondrous examples of evolution happening right now--as we change the world, these beautiful insects are quickly adapting, and in the process directly revealing how evolution works."
You can't miss his presence. At 6 foot-10 inches, he towers over his colleagues.
And the soapberry bugs!
Department of Entomology website
Conciliation Biology: the Eco-Evolutionary Management of Permanently Invaded Biotic Systems by Scott Carroll, published in 2011 in Evolutionary Applications.
Soapberry Bugs of the World Website (Scott Carroll)
Scott Carroll Website
Scott Carroll: Curriculum Vitae
Soapberry bug on the UC Davis campus. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
That would be "the rapidly evolving soapberry bugs."
Hugh Dingle, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, will present a UC Davis Department of Entomology seminar from 12:10 to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 10 in 122 Briggs Hall.
His topic: "And the Beak Shall Inherit: Contemporary Local and Reverse Evolution in Morphology and Life History in American and Australian Soapberry Bugs."
Professor Sharon Lawler of the Department of Entomology faculty will introduce him.
During his 20-year tenure on the UC Davis faculty, Dingle studied various aspects of insect migration “and especially the relation between migration and the evolution of life histories.”
“One aspect of these studies,” he said, “was the rapid contemporary evolution of insects (soapberry bugs) on introduced host plants (golden rain trees), including the interesting genetic relationships between feeding habits and variation in the ability to fly and migrate.”
His seminar will focus on laboratory-selection experiments on North American soapberry bugs designed to assess the genetic relationships among rapidly evolving traits, including the feeding apparatus and the structure and function of wings and wing muscles, necessary to migratory behavior.
“The bugs respond rapidly to selection for both forward and reverse evolution, demonstrating that the genetic variation necessary for evolution is present in the bugs even after intense natural selection,” Dingle said.
Of particular interest is a genetic correlation between mouthpart structure and wing morph frequency so the two traits share genes and evolve together. “The ecology of the bugs reveals why this might be the case,” he said. “A similar rapidly evolving soapberry bug system exists in Australia allowing intercontinental comparisons of contemporary evolution in these bugs as a consequence of the introduction of exotic host plants.”
For the last seven years, Dingle has been living and doing research at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. Now a resident of Davis, he is continuing his research from his headquarters in the Lawler lab.
Dingle received his bachelor's degree in zoology, with honors, from Cornell University, and his master's and doctorate degrees in zoology from the University of Michigan.
Meanwhile, be sure to check out UC Davis researcher Scott Carroll's website on soapberry bugs. Carroll, also associated with the Lawler lab, maintains a Flickr site and invites images of soapberry bugs.
Evolution in action...
If you like to take nature walks and lean against an occasional tree, you might rub shoulders with a red-eyed, red-shouldered bug.
On warm, springlike days, soapberry bugs are exploring their territories--and doing what comes naturally.
These predominately black-and-red bugs are seed feeders on plants but they're much more than that. Scientists consider them the evolutionary “canary in the coal mine.”
I captured these photos of soapberry bugs last Friday in the UC Davis Arboretum. UC Davis biologist Scott Carroll, biologist who studies basic and applied aspects of evolutionary biology, specifically soapberry bugs, considers them "good mothers and avid lovers." .
“Soapberry bugs are tame, pretty, good mothers, avid lovers, and among the best native guides to ongoing evolution on the planet," he writes on his under-construction Web site.
"They respond quicky to changes in the environment and can be good models for observing evolution in action."
They're also good photographic models./o:p>/u1:p>/o:p>/u1:p>/o:p>/u1:p>/o:p>/o:p>/u1:p>/o:p>
Up a tree