Mary Caswell Stoddard, Princeton University: The Form and Function of Avian Eggs
13:00 - 14:00
Dr. Mary Caswell Stoddard
Seminar Room House 4, Tea & Coffee 12:30h
Dr. Clemens Küpper
The eggs laid by birds come in an extraordinary variety of shapes, sizes, colors and textures, despite the fact that they serve the same essential function: to nourish and protect a chick until it hatches. To investigate the form and function of avian eggs, I use a multidisciplinary approach, drawing on tools from math, computer vision, bioengineering and genomics. In this talk, I will show how analyzing eggs has revealed surprising insights into avian evolution and behavior. Egg shape, for example, is correlated with flight behavior, and eggshell pigmentation patterns encode the details of a coevolutionary battle between cuckoos and hosts. Overall, natural selection has tugged the egg phenotype in multiple directions to fashion a structure that can meet diverse mechanical, thermoregulatory and signaling demands.