Biologist, students use hummingbirds, flowers to unwrap evolution’s mysteries

Submitted on Thursday, 3/6/2014, at 11:07 AM

By Peter Rooney

In a jungle-like enclosure the size of a basketball court on one of the Caribbean’s most ecologically diverse islands, Ethan Temeles, Amherst College's Thomas B. Walton Jr. Memorial Professor of Biology, has devised an audacious experiment he hopes will help answer one of evolution’s most vexing questions once and for all.

Work in Progress

Amherst College Biology Prof Links Darwin’s Theories of Natural and Sexual Selection to Hummingbird Discoveries

March 26, 2010                                 

AMHERST, Mass.—Explanations for the differences in appearance and behavior between males and females of many animal species may still elude scientists, but AmherstCollege biology professor Ethan Temeles and his colleagues are two steps closer to understanding how hummingbirds of both sexes eat and mate.

Nature Episode to Feature Professor Ethan Temeles’ Hummingbird Research

December 22, 2009Ethan Temeles

Tiny birds will be the big stars of an episode of Nature airing Jan. 10 on PBS. The episode will feature the hummingbird research of Ethan J. Temeles, professor of biology at Amherst College.

The show, titled “Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air,” will feature Temeles’ research on the purple-throated carib hummingbird on the island nation of Dominica. The film is spectacular for its high-speed cinematography: viewers can literally see hummingbirds trying to kick each other as they squabble over food and get birds’-eye views of them feeding from flowers.

The Missing Piece

hummingbird

Flowers have evolved to fit the bills of female (above) and male (below) hummingbirds—and the birds have evolved to fit the flowers.

By Sarah Auerbach '96

 

Hummingbirds

Submitted by Paul D. Chapin