Life Sciences Seminar Series
Body size and temperature are fundamental predictors of biological traits. The metabolic theory of ecology has at its core an equation that predicts biological rates as a function of the combined effect of body size and temperature. This equation is important because it embodies in a simple expression two major currents of thought in biology: biological scaling and thermal relationships.
This equation is also controversial. In an attempt to find out why this equation is controversial I trace the history of its elements from Babylonian and Greek Geometry to recent efforts. The characters in this tale are among the brightest and most colorful in the history of science, and include as Galileo, Lavoisier, Haldane, and Kroch. I highlight how current controversies are echoes of past contentions.
I propose that contrasting philosophical perspectives about how science is done and presented are at the heart of why biologists either admire or passionately disapprove of metabolic theory's central equation.
About the Speaker:
Carlos Martinez del Rio grew up surrounded by cow dung and books: he chased cattle and he read. He discovered natural history through W. H. Hudson, Dersu Uzala (well V. K. Arseniev …), Gilbert White and Horacio Quiroga.
He discovered nature on horseback and through the stories of old vaqueros. After the family ranch was sold he became a beach/mountain bum but found the bumming life incomplete. A PhD allows him to make a living as a Naturalist. He has a disorganized and catholic love for wild creatures. He has explored how birds disperse mistletoe seeds, why hummingbirds can digest table sugar but robins cannot, and why temperature makes hawkmoths uncertain pollinators.
Most recently, he counts neutrons with a variety of big and rather ugly machines to find out how much white-winged doves depend on saguaros and why there are so few marine songbirds. By accident rather than by inclination he has become a cyborg naturalist that expands his very limited human umwelt with a variety of cutting-edge technologies. However, his technophilia is tempered by the conviction that it is only by being outside, cold and hot, dirty, exhausted, and in physical proximity with wild and feral fellow creatures that he can become wiser and be happy. The isotopic composition of his body is that of the land where the mountains meet the prairie. He lives in Wyoming.
Browse Life Sciences SeminarsBeginning in 1966 and continuing today, IAB hosts a weekly seminar for faculty, students, staff and the public during the academic year. The series attracts scientist-speakers from Alaska and around the world.
- 9/7/12 (Carlos Martinez del Rio, Professor of Zoology and Physiology)
- 9/14/12 (Christopher Golden)
- 9/21/12 (Morten Tryland, Professor)
- 9/28/12 (Knut Kielland's Lab Sampler)
- 10/5/12 (Abby Powell)
- 10/12/12 (Daniel Simberloff)
- 10/19/12 (Marion Syndonia "Donie" Bret-Harte)
- 10/26/12 (Todd O'Hara)
- 11/2/12 (Karsten Hueffer)
- 11/9/12 (Eric Bortz)
- 11/16/12 (Jay Jones Lab Sampler)
- 11/30/12 (Barbara Taylor: Lab Sampler)
- 12/7/12 (Mark Miller)
- 2/15/13 (Helena Storchova)
- 2/22/13 (Martha Raynolds)
- 3/1/13 (Bill Cresko)
- 3/8/13 (Kevin McCracken)
- 3/22/13 (Jessie Young)
- 3/29/13 (Mary Kuhner)
- 4/5/13 (Falk Huettmann)
- 4/12/13 (Matt Olson)
- 4/19/13 (Bob Clark)
- 5/3/13 (Christopher Kyle)
- 5/10/13 (Jeffrey Peters)