Thursday, 20 August 2015

Postgraduate Seminar Series 20th August 2015

Talk 1:

Inferring the Behaviour of a Wild Social Primate: What can tri-axial accelerometers tell us?

Jack O’Sullivan

Our first speaker this week is Jack O’Sullivan. Jack completed his BSc in Zoology at Aberystwyth University before coming to Swansea to undertake an Mres in the Bioscience department. He has recently been accepted onto a PhD at Newcastle University within the Institute of Neuroscience.



There has been relatively little investigation into the applicability of tri-axial accelerometers in the detection of primate behaviour. Applying such techniques to the chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) of the Cape Peninsula, South Africa could provide insight into the lives of primates previously unobtainable under the constraints of direct observation.
Talk 2:
Playing Magic: The Gathering® on networks of competitive interactions
Danis Kiziridis


Our second speaker, Danis Kiziridis initially obtained a diploma in biology, with specialization in ecology, from the School of Biology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. He then moved to Palma de Mallorca, Spain, for the Master in Physics of Complex Systems, organized and taught by IFISC, at the Universitat de les Illes Balears. Currently, he is a BioMaths first year PhD candidate at the Mathematics Department, Swansea University, studying growth and interactions in saprotrophic fungal communities, with the supervision and collaboration of Dr. Chenggui Yuan (Mathematics, Swansea University), Dr. Mike Fowler and Prof. Dan Eastwood (Biosciences, Swansea University), and Prof. Lynne Boddy and Dr. Jennifer Hiscox (Biosciences, Cardiff University).
Competition by direct means is widespread in biological, technological, and socioeconomic systems, e.g.: territoriality in fishes, birds and ants, but also in firms and mafias; biological predation/parasitism, but also software/malware infection attempts; tournaments among stags for mating, but also sports tournaments like in boxing and fencing; and dominance interactions leading to hierarchies in animal groups, including human organizations like companies and collectives. Inspired by the fierce territorial fights between saprotrophic fungi, but of general applicability, a method was developed by adopting the simple but realistic scoring/combat system of the card game Magic: The Gathering®, to model satisfactorily all kinds of interaction outcomes, and to quantify offensive/defensive abilities, proposing thus testable hypotheses, and offering quantitative insight into the (co)evolution of the ubiquitous phenomenon of direct competition.

Talk 3:
Individual variability in dispersal and invasion speed
Aled Morris

Our third speaker today is Aled Morris. Aled undertook his undergrad degree in Mathematics and his Masters degree in Computer Modelling here at Swansea University. He is currently doing a PhD, investigating population spread of species.
The spreading speed of a population is fundamental in ecology because it characterises the rate at which a species invades new habitats or adapts to rapid environmental change. We use a system of reaction-diffusion partial differential equations to model the spread of two competing phenotypes in a domain. Using this system we look at the existence of steady states, and attempt to find explicit expressions for the spreading speed and the ratio of phenotypes at the leading edge.


Thursday, 6 August 2015

Postgraduate Seminar Series 6th August 2015

Decay in the canopy: investigating saprotrophic communities in attached angiosperm branches

Anna Rawlings

Our speaker today is Anna Rawlings. Anna completed her master’s degree in Environmental Biology here at Swansea University and is now currently in the first year of her PhD, looking at fungal community ecology.


Assemblages of wood rotting fungi often begin to develop in the canopy yet efforts to describe decay communities have focused almost exclusively on the later stages of decay on the woodland floor.  Although generally successional in nature, it has been hypothesised that various community development pathways may arise depending upon the degrees of abiotic and biotic stress present within the substrate with abiotic conditions ameliorating and competitive stress increasing as decay advances.  I plan to use traditional culturing methods alongside modern molecular techniques and 3D modelling to map communities of wood-rotting fungi in attached branches and to investigate the role that abiotic and competitive stressors play in shaping them.