Mutualistic resource-user communities - theory to application

Friday, October 5, 2018 - 1:30pm


Carrie Diaz Eaton
Associate Professor of Digital and Computational Studies
Bates College


Some theoretical work investigating the evolutionary effects of mutualism has suggested that matching phenotypes should result in optimal fitness. Comprehensive meta-analysis of field studies have noted some stable community structure properties such as modularity which echo these findings. However, we also see high diversity in mutualistic communities, such as that of plant-pollinator. Why would coevolution produce patterns other than perfect cophylogeny and trait-matching between cooperators? I use mathematical modeling to explore the underlying evolutionary mechanisms that creates the structure observed in meta-analysis of extensive plant-pollinator network inventories.

One example of a mutualistic network is a resource-user community. My research expands into applied work with the leadership of the NSF-funded QUBES Virtual Center ( ). The QUBES (Quantitative Undergraduate Biology Education and Synthesis) Community consists of faculty, students, professional societies, businesses, research facilities, and more, and spans areas from biology to mathematics, statistics, computer science, and STEM Education. The vision of QUBES is to bring the community together to leverage each other’s strengths and resources, to share insights in order to move quantitative biology education forward, and to support faculty in teaching quantitative biology. As Consortium Director, I work to make sure that QUBES is connecting to our entire community and intentionally moving forward the conversation on inclusion in undergraduate quantitative biology education. As part of this talk, I will introduce an ethnographic profile of a successful Latina STEM educator who had an unexpectedly strong influence in my life.