Gene-Hunting In Wild Kingdom to Be Topic of Talk

Release Date: March 5, 1997 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Molecular genetics is changing the way scientists view human disease and physiology almost on a daily basis. But what could these same molecular tools have to tell us about the mores and customs of wild animals?

Plenty, according to Michael Webster, Ph.D., assistant professor of biological sciences at the University at Buffalo.

Webster will discuss "Molecular Ecology: Using DNA to Understand Natural History" at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, March 24, in Room 215 of the Natural Sciences Complex on the UB North (Amherst) Campus.

The lecture, which will be free and open to the public, will be part of the UB Sciences Alumni Association lecture series.

In the past few years, researchers in the field of ecology have begun using molecular approaches, such as DNA fingerprinting and DNA sequencing, to answer basic ecological and evolutionary questions.

According to Webster, questions that were difficult or even impossible to answer just a few years ago now are being addressed by researchers using these new techniques.

For example, recent studies have shown that in many species of bird, the male feeding nestlings at a nest is often not the father of those nestlings.

Webster's own research uses genetic markers to investigate the ecological causes and consequences of this surprising finding.

He also will discuss new data, derived using molecular-biology techniques, on individual mating patterns in birds, social structure and altruism in whales and how female birds manipulate the sex ratios of their offspring.

The Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics comprises the departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Computer Science, Geology, Mathematics and Physics.

For more information, contact Cindy Nydahl at 645-2531.

Media Contact Information

Ellen Goldbaum
News Content Manager
Tel: 716-645-4605