Join us for our final of three Distinguished Professorial Lectures this year!
Wet Feet on Dry Land with Professor Glynnis Hood
What does it mean to succeed at the interface of two worlds – the terrestrial and the aquatic? Pioneer comparative physiologist Dr. Laurence Irving suggested that, as humans, we are so bound to dry land that fully understanding what it entails to succeed in water is almost beyond our grasp. In fact, all mammals can swim instinctively, except for hominids and giraffes. Furthermore, to understand what it means to be physically and/or behaviourally specialized to inhabit both the aquatic and terrestrial worlds presents even greater challenges. West Chester University biologist, Dr. Frank Fish, aptly states that “semi-aquatic mammals occupy a precarious evolutionary position” because of their joint reliance on land and water. Their movements in both habitats reveal some degree of physical compromise, despite sometimes extensive ecological adaptations. In many cases, freshwater semi-aquatic mammals have disproportionate impacts on either the physical structure of their aquatic and terrestrial habitats (ecosystem engineers), food-web dynamics (keystone species), or both.
These freshwater species are represented by a third of all mammalian orders and are found on all continents, except Antarctica. In Canada, we are most familiar with beavers, muskrats, river otters and mink, but their global extent includes marsupials, monotremes, and placental mammals. Much of the research on freshwater environments examines how the environment influences organisms within and around them, but with semi-aquatic mammals we must ask: What happens when freshwater organisms dramatically alter the very form and function of the environment on which they depend? This lecture explores the fascinating world of wet feet on dry land, where ecological compromise creates dynamic ecosystems in a rapidly changing world.
7 pm Wednesday, March 15th 2017
Mayer Family Community Hall
Performing Arts Centre, Augustana Campus