E&E Seminar: “Predicting multivariate niche traits for extinct taxa from phenotypic data: the case of carnivoran diet” by Graham Slater (University of Chicago)
September 13, 2022
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM
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Please join us on September 13, 2022 for an E&E seminar featuring Dr. Graham Slater (University of Chicago).
Host: Joe Walker
Abstract: Diet is a fundamentally important component of a species' ecology and has therefore been a particular focus of study in both modern and fossil systems. However, establishing metrics that effectively summarize dietary variability without excessive information loss remains challenging and most authors continue to reduce complex patterns of dietary variation into discrete classification systems. I will show that typical, discrete dietary coding strategies are inconsistent with multivariate data on dietary item importance for a clade of mammals with particularly rich ecological data, the Carnivora (dogs, cats, bears, weasels) . I will then show how a Bayesian phylogenetic multilevel modeling can be employed to predict the original item importance scores from a set of metrics extracted from 3D models of carnivoran teeth and use these models to provide novel insights into the dietary diversity of extinct species, namely the most probable composition of their diet and their closest extant analogues. This approach need not be limited to diet as an ecological trait of interest, to these phenotypic traits, or to mammals. Rather, this framework serves as a general approach to predicting multivariate ecology from phylogenetic comparative data.
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