Tempo and Mode

Tempo and Mode exists to bring together researchers from across the Australian National University campus who are interested in evolution. We link across many departments and disciplines, including biology, philosophy, linguistics, archaeology, anthropology and geology.

Upcoming seminars:


Philosophy, University of Exeter

1-2pm on Monday 5th August 2019
Eucalyptus Seminar Room*, Robertson Building 46, Australian National University

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Abstract: I’m interested in the kinds of explanations palaeontologists (and other historical scientists) provide, and how these shape paleontological knowledge. For example, there is a tendency to provide fairly simple explanations for highly complex, contingent historical episodes: feathers evolved for insulation, hominid encephalization increased due to sociality, and a big rock killed the dinosaurs. Given that history is so often complex and messy, it is tempting to take these ‘one-shot hypotheses’ as a problematic reflection of our psychological biases, or dismiss them as mere story-telling, a distraction from the real business of paleontology. I’m not so sure, and will suggest that such hypotheses play an important role in driving some paleontological investigations. In short, one-shot hypotheses are very rarely true, but I think they’re important to consider anyway.

Past seminars (list under construction)

31st July 2019: Kieren Mitchell, University of Adelaide: Reconciling genomics and the fossil record in Pleistocene North America.

1st November 2018: Ruth Wallace, Charles Darwin University: Indigenous advantage: can northern Australia lead through innovation.

26th October 2018: Alex Skeels, Research School of Biology, ANU: Reconstructing speciation geography from contemporary biodiversity dat & Ian Brennan, Research School of Biology, ANU: Integrating competition and biogeography into monitor lizard macroevolution

17 October 2018: Theseus’ ship meets the winds of change: understanding collapse and resilience in social-ecological systems. Graeme Cumming, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

21 September 2018: Historical linguistics in the Age of Bayes, T. Mark Ellison, Wellsprings of Language Diversity Project ANU.

3 August 2018: Evolutionary dynamics and fitness in wild populations. Loeske Kruuk, Research School of Biology, ANU.

2nd July 2018: Engaging with indigenous knowledge, indigenous communities and research. Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Māori and Indigenous Studies, The University of Waikato

15 June 2018: Six impossible things before breakfast: assumptions models and belief in molecular dating. Lindell Bromham, Research School of Biology, ANU

6 April 2018: Evolution of communication: pragmatics made simple. Richard Moore. Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin

9 March 2018: Populations: a general framework. John Mathewson, Philosophy, Massey University.

30 August 2017 The cultural Red King effect. Cailin O’Connor. Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science, UC Irvine

20th July 2016 Ecological insights from invasive species. Richard Duncan, Institute for Applied Ecology, University of Canberra

11th May 2016 The evolution of antievolution policies. Nicholas Matzke. Evolution, Ecology and Genetics, ANU

15th December 2015 The genetics of speciation and fitness landscapes. John Welch, Department of Genetics, University of Cambridge

17th November 2015 Molecular evolutionary clocks in the genomic era. Simon Ho, Molecular Ecology, Evolution and Phylogenetics, University of Sydney

29th October 2015. Aboriginal conservation: why it must be applied on a landscape scale in Central Australia. Leanne Liddle, Senior Policy Advisor, Northern Land Council, Darwin

8th September 2014 Are lizards feeling the heat? A tale of ecology and evolution under two temperatures. Shai Meiri, Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel-Aviv University

Previous speakers (incomplete list)

Barry Brook (University of Tasmania)
Dan Rabosky (University of Michigan)
Walter Jetz (Yale University)
Eddie Holmes (University of Sydney)
Daniel Osorio (University of Sussex)
Ben Kerr (University of Washington)
Peter Bennett (University of Kent)
Nicholas Evans (Australian National University)
Ainsley Seago (CSIRO)
Hanna Kokko (University of Helsinki)
Drew Kitchen (University of Iowa)
Kim Sterelny (Australian National University)
Michael Weisberg (University of Pennsylvania)
Charles Marshall (UC Berkeley)
Simon Easteal (Australian National University)
Meg Woolfit (Monash University)
Peter Hiscock  (Australian National University)