Selected Events

Multiple topologies in biology and linguistics

Virtual seminar series: Horizontal evolutionary processes in phylogenetics
In this talk we present the multiple tree topologies approach. In the multiple topologies approach, regular MCMC phylogenetic inference is extended using a mixture models approach (Pagel & Meade 2004) in order to estimate two topologies at the same time (Pagel & Meade 2006). This method can identify different evolutionary histories that may be found in subsets of the dataset. We present the model in mathematical detail, as well as applications in biology and linguistics. [more]

Darwin Comes to Town - How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution

The Past, Present and Future of the Human Niche: The Past, Present and Future of the Human Niche
In his presentation, Schilthuizen will show how wild animals and plants are rapidly evolving as a result of human activities. This leads to the assembly of an entirely new ecosystem in urbanised landscapes. Understanding and harnessing this process could help us design greener, more biodiverse cities for the future. [more]

Can vegan food be tasty? Join the vegan and vegetarian lunch

Presented by the MPI SHH Sustainability Comission
Can vegan food be tasty? Lets find out together! Bring your homemade vegan or vegetarian food to share with others. We are happy to see you on 11 November and we are very excited to taste your homemade dishes! Let us know which dish you want to bring. You can also send us your recipe and we will share it. Open to MPI SHH employees. Please sign up by sending an e-mail to

A Bayesian phylogenetic model with horizontal transfer for language evolution

Virtual seminar series: Horizontal evolutionary processes in phylogenetics

Marija Gimbutas (1921-1994): Life – Research – Legacy

The Darwinian fitness of extrachromosomal genetic elements

tide Seminar Series: Horizontal evolutionary processes in phylogenetics

The Impact of Climate on the Human Niche Through Time

The Past, Present and Future of the Human Niche
Prof Manica's research focuses on understanding patterns of individual movement, with an emphasis on disentangling its proximate mechanisms (e.g. grouping behaviour, territoriality, migratory behaviour, etc.) and its ultimate causes (e.g. fitness benefits, selection in metapopulations). Work in his group can be split into three broad areas: the study of the costs and benefits of individual movement strategies, including their role in collective decision making; the reconstruction of movement using population genetics, including the role of natural selection in allowing colonists to adapt to new environments; and the spatial ecology of species interactions, including disease dynamics. His research often involves the use mathematical and statistical modelling to make inferences from large ecological and genetic datasets, but also includes a number of field projects scattered around the world. [more]

Modern Human evolution and dispersal: chronology and constraints

Rainforest Redux - Virtual Seminar Series 2020-2021- Concluding lecture

Human Behaviour and Climate-linked fluctuations in the rainforests of West-Central Africa

Rainforest Redux Seminar 10: Human Behaviour and Climate-linked Fluctuations in the rainforests of West-Central Africa

Where do the nutrients come from? - Fertilising crops without poisoning the planet

George Monbiot is an author, Guardian columnist and environmental campaigner. His best-selling books include Feral: Rewilding the land, sea and human life and Heat: how to stop the planet burning; his latest is Out of the Wreckage: a new politics for an age of crisis. George co-wrote the concept album Breaking the Spell of Loneliness with musician Ewan McLennan, and has made a number of viral videos. One of them, adapted from his 2013 TED talk, How Wolves Change Rivers, has been viewed on YouTube over 40m times. Another, on Natural Climate Solutions, that he co-presented with Greta Thunberg, has been watched over 60m times. George is working on a new book, to be published in 2022, about how to feed the world without devouring the planet. [more]

African Pleistocene rainforest refugia: their ecology and potential influence on human evolution

Rainforest Redux Seminar 9 - Virtual Seminar Series 2020-2021 - Panel Discussion Special

Lecture by Prof Martine Robbeets: “Is Japanese made-in-China? Language, culture and genes”

Part of the Abralin ao Vivo – Linguists Online lecture series
The origins of the Japanese language are among the most disputed issues of historical linguistics. In this talk, Prof Robbeets presents evidence for Transeurasian affiliation, relating Japanese to Korean, Tungusic, Mongolic and Turkic languages. This classification gives rise to new questions with regard to the location of the original homeland, the dating and the early dispersals of Transeurasian languages. She addresses these through ‘triangulating’ genetics, archaeology and linguistics in a unified perspective, among others presenting the first whole-genome analyses of ancient DNA for the Korean Peninsula and the Southern Ryukyus. By combining evidence from the three disciplines, Prof Robbeets shows that the spread of Japanese to the Japanese Islands was driven by agriculture. [more]

Landscape changes in Late Holocene West Africa – the human factor

Rainforest Redux - Virtual Seminar Series 2020-2021 - Seminar 8

Why Evolutionary Biology needs Anthropology: Domestication as a Model System for Evaluating Core Assumptions of the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis

The Past, Present and Future of the Human Niche
Anthropologists have a long history of applying concepts from evolutionary biology to cultural evolution. Evolutionary biologists, however, have been slow to turn to anthropology for insights about evolution. Recently evolutionary biology has been engaged in a debate over the need to revise evolutionary theory to account for developments made in the sixty years since the Modern Synthesis, the standard evolutionary paradigm, was framed. Anthropology has much to offer to this debate. This lecture explores how the domestication of plants and animals provides an ideal model system for evaluating central EES tenets about directionality, causality, targets of selection, modes of inheritance, and pace of evolution. [more]

Our Planet, Our Health – Ecosystem approaches to forecasting zoonotic diseases - Online Lecture and Live Q&A with Prof Kate Jones

The Past, Present and Future of the Human Niche
Today we live longer and more prosperous lives than ever before. The construction of the Human Niche has made huge advances possible, and created better health conditions for billions of people. But this progress is taking a heavy toll on the planet's natural systems. Prof Jones will explore the links and inter-dependencies between our health and the health of our planet with particular reference to understanding how rapid global environmental change impacts the emergence and spread of high impact infectious diseases like Ebola or Covid. She will discuss how recent advances in the resolution and coverage of remote-sensing satellite data and cutting-edge machine-learning algorithms open up the possibilities of developing global early warning systems to prevent and manage future epidemics. [more]

Anthropogenic environments of the rainforest: a case study from Amazonia

Rainforest Redux - Virtual Seminar Series 2020-2021 - Seminar 7
For tens of millions of years until the last 10,-50,000 years, ecosystems throughout the globe harbored rich assemblages of large and very large animals (megafauna). Prof Svenning will outline the strong global evidence that the near-global down-sizing of faunas in the late-Quaternary represents the first human transformation of the biosphere, and the ecological consequences and the implications for ecosystem restoration in the Anthropocene. [more]

Diversity and stability in contemporary forager-farmer relations in the Congo Basin: Inferring the BaYaka’s past

Rainforest Redux - Virtual Seminar Series 2020-2021 - Seminar 6
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