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NHM Life Science Seminar

 

Björn Berning, Upper Austrian State Museums, Geoscientific Collections, Austria

 

Wednesday 28 May 11:00

 

Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)

 

In contrast to terrestrial faunas, the (historical) biogeography of marine invertebrates in oceanic islands has been thoroughly neglected and is almost entirely missing in biogeography textbooks. A joint effort to describe the diversity of marine faunas and the distribution of species has only recently been initiated (Census of Marine Life).

 

Findings on diverse biota from oceanic islands have led to a resurrection of the idea that dispersal plays powerful role of in generating large scale biogeographic patterns. In this talk, the marine natural history and (palae)oceanography of the Macaronesian islands and seamounts is summarised, with a focus on bryozoans as one of the most diverse groups among the marine benthos.

 

More information on attending seminars at http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/news-events/seminars/

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Ana Cristina Furtado Rebelo – University of the Azores, Department of Biology

 

NHM Earth Sciences Seminar Room (Basement, WEB 05, formerly Mineralogy Seminar Room)

 

20th May - 4.00 pm

 

 

Rhodoliths are the response of Coralline algae to unstable substrates; their calcified structures preserve well and may, after death, be incorporated into sediments, providing insights into geological processes. Despite being widely distributed, studies on the distribution and ecology of extant and fossil rhodoliths are few and, as a consequence, rhodoliths are still poorly understood.

 

The ongoing research in the Azores will provide more insight on why those islands are so different from others in Macaronesia with respect to rhodolith deposits in the geological record and the general lack of coastal rhodolith deposits today.

 

The comparison of type material in the Botany and Palaeobotany collections of the NHM with material from the Azores collection is expected to yield information on the Azorean rhodolith taxonomy identification, and will provide a model for palaeobiogeographic distribution. Such task needs the knowledge of the most advanced curatorial techniques and a profound taxonomic understanding of this specific algae group.

 

More information on attending seminars at http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/news-events/seminars/

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Jairo Patiño, Department of Biology, Ecology and Evolution, Liege University


Friday 9 May 11:00


Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)

 


Oceanic island biotas are typically characterized by high levels of endemism and a suite of specific life-history traits known as island syndromes. Low levels of genetic diversity and limited dispersal capacities of island lineages have driven the view that oceanic islands are evolutionary dead-ends.

 

Here, we demonstrate the role of oceanic islands as dynamic platforms for the assembly of entire continental biotas in organisms with high dispersal capacities, using bryophyte species as a model. Based on an Approximate Bayesian Computation framework, we show that the patterns of genetic variation were consistently more similar with those simulated under a scenario of de novo foundation of continental populations from insular ancestors than with those expected if islands would represent a sink or a refugium of continental biodiversity.

 

The dominant pattern of continental colonization from islands reported here suggests that the Macaronesian archipelagos have played a key role as stepping-stones, transforming trans-continental migrants into new endemic species before they eventually ended their colonization road in a new continental environment.

 

For additional details on attending this or other seminars see http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/seminars-events/index.htm

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Paul Williams and Nadia Bystriakova, Department of Life Sciences, NHM

 

Wednesday 7 May 11:00

 

Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)

 

 

The region encompassing the Tibetan plateau and its fringing mountains above 3000 covers an area one third the size of Europe or the USA. Although still poorly known, it includes the greatest hotspot of diversity world-wide forr bumblebees, which are among the most important pollinators in temperate ecosystems. 

 

We describe variation in alpine bumblebee faunas across the plateau and identify three principal faunas.  The eastern and southern faunas in wetter habitats appear to be closer to equilibrium with climate factors, whereas some western faunas in more arid habitats appear further from equilibrium, at least with the measured climate factors.  We suggest that these western faunas may depend on highly localised factors for mitigating the measured aridity, particularly on streams with continuous summer melt water from permanent glaciers.  This identifies a likely new conservation threat to these major pollinators within this region, from climate change and the consequent loss of glaciers causing a sudden loss of habitat, that has not previously been of major concern for bumblebee conservation elsewhere.

 

For additional details on attending this or other seminars see http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/seminars-events/index.htm