Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Biosciences Seminar Speaker 27 April 2017

Biosciences Seminar Series - Spring 2017
27 April 2017 - 1pm - Zoology Museum

The Real Game of Thrones: Incest, Dominance and Warfare in Banded Mongooses

Dr Hazel Nichols

Picture by Hazel Nichols

After an Easter Break filled with pleasantly abundant sunshine and good weather, we are delighted to welcome Dr Hazel Nichols to start our Spring Seminar Series. Hazel is a lecturer in Animal Behaviour at the School of Natural Sciences and Psychology at Liverpool John Moores University (UK). Hazel is especially interested in understanding how animal societies evolve and to do so she combines multiple different methods, ranging from behavioural observations to biochemical, genetic and genomic approaches. Using this combined approach, Hazel is trying understand the genetic structure of mammalian societies (e.g. see here), the role of scent communication (e.g. see here) and inbreeding/inbreeding avoidance in cooperative species (e.g. see here), and how cooperation evolved.

Cooperative breeders present a particularly interesting case study for inbreeding (and its avoidance) as dispersal is delayed and sexually mature offspring remain with their family to help rear further young. This leads to a situation where groups often consist of close opposite-sex relatives with the potential to inbreed. While the majority of cooperative breeders successfully avoid incest, a small minority inbreed regularly. I will present the results of my work on one such species: the banded mongoose, where 8% of pups are the product of father-daughter or full sibling matings. Why is this species so different?

Hope to see many of you - everyone most welcome to attend!

For the list of forthcoming seminars see here

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Biosciences Science Club Events 13 April 2017

Biosciences Science Club Series - Spring 2017
13 April 2017 - 1pm - Zoology Museum

Biogeography and macroevolution of anuran amphibians in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest

Dr Diogo Borges Provette

from: www.Brasilienportal.ch

We do have a visiting scientist from Brazil this week, Dr Diogo Borges ProvetteFAPESP Post-doctoral fellow from the Department of Environmental Sciences at the Centre for Sciences and Technologies for Sustainability, at the Federal University of São Carlos in Sorocaba, Brazil. Diogo is also associated with the Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre in Sweden and is Editor for Amphibia-Reptilia at the Biodiversity Data Journal. Diogo is a community ecologist and his research focusses on three different strands - The causes and consequences of species diversity in freshwater ecosystems, eco-evolutionary feedbacks in metacommunity ecology, and the processes driving phenotypic evolution and diversification of Neotropical organisms. Diogo will present us recent work concerning the latter, focussed on understanding the processes leading to the formation of biodiversity hotspots.

The Atlantic Forest (AF) along the east coast of Brazil is a global biodiversity hotspot, with many endemic species under threat. There have been many hypothesis to explain the causes of the current high species diversity in the AF, including Plio-Pleistocene refugia, topographic heterogeneity, and environmental gradients promoting ecological speciation. However, there is little consensus on the relative roles of these processes and how they could differentially influence vertebrate groups with distinct dispersal abilities. In this talk I will quickly review the current models to explain the astonishing biodiversity in the AF and show results of a past project developed at the University of Gothenburg and the ideas of my current post doc project in Brazil. 

Hope to see many of you - everyone most welcome to attend!

For the list of forthcoming Science Club Events, see here

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

BioMaths Colloquium - 07/04/2017

BioMaths Colloquium Series - 2016/17

07 April 2017 - 3pm Maths Seminar Room

(room 224 Talbot Building 2nd floor)

Predator-prey biomass relationships: a role for predator density dependence?

Dr David Murrell

(Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research

University College London, UK

from: phys.org

Our BioMaths Colloquium Series for the spring term starts with a seminar by Dr David Murrell from the Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research at University College London. David is a mathematical ecologist broadly interested in understanding and modelling the key biological processes that maintain biodiversity. Of particular interest are highly plant communities, such as tropical forests, but David's research ranges from bacteria to protists to vertebrates. Related to this, a specific line of research resolves around the processes determining species abundances across space and time.

Recent empirical research has shown that increasing ecosystem productivity leads to an increase in the proportion of biomass at lower trophic levels. Thus as prey species increase in abundance/biomass their consumers also increase but at a much reduced rate. Indeed the general empirical results link predator biomass (P) to prey biomass (N) as P ~ N^k, where k<1 for most ecosystems studied. Surprisingly, ecological theory does not provide an immediate answer as to how this relationship may occur. 
I will consider the potential roles for density dependence operating at the level of the predator/consumer to generate these sub-linear increases in biomass at higher trophic levels. Through analyses of simple ecological models I will outline some criteria for generating the empirical pattern and compare these predictions to the rare cases where the models have been applied to data.

The discussions will continue over biscuits and tea/coffee after the seminar. 
Hope to see many of you!