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Ecometrics Through Space and Time

November 19, 2015
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

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Dr. Michelle Lawing  
Department of Ecosystem Science & Management Texas A&M University

Assistant Professor


Ecometrics are trait-­based measurements collected at the community level that relate to climatic, environmental, and ecosystem properties. Ecometrics are documented with modern data from distributions of traits within communities and distributions of abiotic conditions. These distributions are spatially explicit, thus variation in the ecometric and variation in the abiotic conditions may be geographically linked and analyzed. Well-­documented examples of ecometric relationships are hypsodonty-precipitation, leaf teeth-­temperature, carnivoran gear ratio-vegetation cover, and reptile body size‐temperature. Ecometrics play an important role in reconstructing paleoenvironments and more recently have played a role in documenting expected trajectories of change in trait distributions through time. In this talk, Dr. Lawing will describe how multiple ecometrics have been combined to provide a larger geographic extent for ecometric patterning and more refined estimates of vegetation cover. I will also show how a forward model of ecometric projection can be utilized to document patterns of global change. In fixed geographic locations throughout the Pleistocene, carnivoran gear ratio mean and standard deviation changed with similar direction and magnitude in ecometric space; however, in fixed geographic locations throughout the Anthropocene, snake relative tail length mean and standard deviation showed idiosyncratic deviations with multiple directions and magnitudes of vector change in ecometric space. The ecometric framework emerges particularly useful to traverse paleontology, neontology, conservation science, and global change biology because it is analyzed at the macro-­scale, but may be monitored and measured at local to regional scales. In addition, process-­based models of the mechanistic underpinnings that produce ecometric patterns are being developed.


Dr. Lawing is an Assistant Professor in Spa5al Sciences in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management. She uses methods and models from modern ecology and evolu5onary biology combined with evidence from the fossil record to inform our understanding of how species and communi5es respond to environmental change through 5me. Her work includes the inves5ga5on of geographic, evolu5onary, and morphological responses of species and communi5es to environmental changes in the Late Pleistocene and throughout the Miocene to present. She is involved in developing species distribu5on models (SDM), geometric morphometric methods (GMM), and phylogene5c compara5ve methods (PCM). Before becoming an Assistant Professor in Spa5al Sciences, Dr. Lawing was a postdoctoral fellow at the Na5onal Ins5tute for Mathema5cal and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) in Knoxville, TN and received her PhD in Ecology & Evolu5onary Biology and in Geological Sciences from Indiana University in Bloomington.


November 19, 2015
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm


Rudder Tower, Room 301