Ricklefs to present Marker Lectures in Evolutionary Biology on Oct. 7 and 8

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Robert Ricklefs, the Curators' Professor of Biology at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, will present the Penn State Marker Lectures in Evolutionary Biology on Oct. 7 and 8. The free public lectures are sponsored by the Penn State Eberly College of Science.

The series includes a lecture intended for a general audience, titled "Diversity and Distribution of Avian Malaria Parasites: Model System for the Evolution of Pathogen-Host Interaction," which will be held at 5 p.m. Oct. 7 in 100 Huck Life Sciences Building. A reception will be held at the conclusion of the seminar in the Willaman Gateway to the Sciences on the third floor bridge of the Huck Life Sciences Building. Ricklefs also will give a specialized lecture, "Regional and Evolutionary Perspectives on Ecological Communities," at 4 p.m. Oct. 8 in 100 Huck Life Sciences Building.

Ricklefs's research is focused on birds and he has visited field sites all over the Western Hemisphere, from Antarctica to oceanic islands in the Pacific and neotropical rainforests. His primary research interests include the evolutionary diversification of avian life histories, including life span and the rate of aging, island biogeography, patterns of species richness, and, the host and geographic distribution of avian malaria parasites. In his early work on growth and development of birds, he developed one of the first optimization models in evolutionary ecology, balancing selection by predation to increase growth rate against the energy requirements of growth and the acquisition of mature function in tissues. Ricklefs also is known for promoting the importance of large-scale processes to understanding community ecology and for refining E. O. Wilson's concept of the taxon cycle applied to West Indian birds.

Ricklefs has advised over 30 doctoral students, is the author of two widely used textbooks -- Ecology and The Economy of Nature -- several edited volumes on community ecology and island biogeography, and more than 400 scientific articles.

Ricklefs earned a doctoral degree at the University of Pennsylvania in 1967. He earned a bachelor's degree at Stanford University in 1963.

The Marker Lectures were established in 1984 through a gift from Russell Earl Marker, professor emeritus of chemistry at Penn State, whose pioneering synthetic methods revolutionized the steroid-hormone industry and opened the door to the current era of hormone therapies, including the birth-control pill. The Marker endowment allows the Penn State Eberly College of Science to present annual Marker Lectures in astronomy and astrophysics, the chemical sciences, evolutionary biology, genetic engineering, the mathematical sciences and physics.

Last Updated September 25, 2013