Friday, March 21, 2014 at 3:30pm
Frank H. T. Rhodes Hall, 655
CAM Colloquium: Robin Snyder (Case Western) - Living in a variable environment: when should organisms hedge their bets and when should they go for broke?
The world is changeable and often uncertain. Finding ways to cope with environmental variability and simple bad luck is a problem faced by many organisms and anyone with a retirement account. The best thing to do would be to maintain a high expected growth rate with little variation, but as anyone with financial investments knows, higher means often come with higher variances. This leads to two strategies: "bet hedging," in which variance is reduced at the expense of the mean, and what I've called "go for broke," in which raising the mean is favored even as it increases variance. In this talk I tell two stories about evolutionary responses to variability and chance. The first is about when we should expect plants to co-evolve more variable germination rates, which is an ingredient in a much-discussed coexistence mechanism, and the other is about when individual bad luck—even in a constant environment—should produce bet hedging.