Skip to Content

Search: {{$root.lsaSearchQuery.q}}, Page {{$}}

Early Career Scientists Symposium: Natural History Collections: Drivers of Innovation

Eric LoPresti, Postdoctoral Researcher, Michigan State University; Laurel Yohe, NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, Yale University
Friday, March 26, 2021
1:00-3:00 PM
A virtual symposium held on five consecutive Fridays beginning March 5, 2021.

REGISTRATION required for Zoom entry. Registrants will receive the Zoom link and passcode via email. See links this page to register and for more information.

Session IV (Moderator: Teresa Pegan)

1 pm Eric LoPresti

1:30 pm Laurel Yohe

2 pm Panel discussion: Eric LoPresti and Laurel Yohe

Eric LoPresti, Postdoctoral Researcher, Michigan State University

Talk title: Plants and the materials that stick to them: an ecological and evolutionary investigation

A pressed plant specimen in an herbarium has long been the source of morphological, chemical, genetic and other sorts of data on the plant. However, that physical specimen
also includes incidental collections of other material which can inform conclusions about the plant’s ecology and interactions. My research uses collections of sticky plants to study plant interactions by examining material that sticks to the plant during its lifetime; I have found sand, dead bugs, bird feathers and ash on the surfaces of plant specimens. My recent work has demonstrated that certain substances–biological or not–stuck to plants mediate both simple and complex interactions with both arthropods and mammals, resulting in major fitness implications for the plant. However, the ubiquity of these interactions is unknown. My research links the ecological functioning of sticky plant interactions with the breadth and evolutionary history of stickiness. I will detail ecological interactions of stickiness, broad patterns of stickiness across the plant phylogeny, as well as in more detail across a single clade of plants endemic to western North America.

Laurel Yohe
NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University

Talk title: Morphological and developmental basis of olfactory evolution: evidence from museum-collected iodine-stained bat specimens and embryos

The sense of smell is essential for finding food in animals, but whether olfaction has evolved in relation to diet is not understood. Animals that more heavily rely on smell should have increased olfactory tissue than those that rely on other senses, yet this assumption is rarely tested. I investigated whether smell was associated with diet in a group of neotropical leaf-nosed bats known for their dietary diversity. Using iodine-stained museum specimens of both adult and embryo bats, I quantified the olfactory epithelium of nasal turbinate bones in species with divergent diets. Embryo specimens were obtained from museum-deposited adult females unknown to be pregnant during accession, providing a wealth of new specimens unbeknownst to science. I tested whether plant-visiting have more well-developed olfactory epithelium compared to animal-feeding bats. I discovered: [1] two of the five turbinate bones have increased epithelium in plant-visiting bats; and [2] development of turbinates remains simple earlier in ontogeny, but the two bones with increased epithelium develop at very late stages in plant-visiting bats. This discovery suggests olfactory adaptation in plant-visiting bats, and the accompanying morphology occurs at late developmental stages, supporting the notion that natural selection acts upon phenotypes appearing later in ontogeny.

Read more, including about the speakers and their talks, on the ECSS website:


Illustration: John Megahan. Image credits: Eric LoPresti, John Megahan, Timothy James, Linda Garcia
Building: Off Campus Location
Location: Virtual
Event Link:
Event Password: Zoom passcode will be sent via email to registrants
Event Type: Livestream / Virtual
Tags: AEM Featured, Biology, Biosciences, Bsbsigns, early career scientists, Museum, Museum - Herbarium, Museum - Zoology, Research, Research Museums Center, Science
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Museum of Natural History, School for Environment and Sustainability, Museum Paleontology, Museum of Anthropological Archaeology, University of Michigan Biological Station, Program in Biology, Museum of Zoology, Research Museums Center