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February 18, 2014
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caribbean mammal.jpg

 

Ian Barnes

Department of Earth Sciences, Natural History Museum

 

Friday 21 of February 11:00

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


Until very recently, the Caribbean hosted one of the world’s most diverse insular land mammal faunas, with approximately 100 endemic species of rodents, insectivores, sloths and monkeys found on the major islands of the Greater Antilles. However, Caribbean mammals have experienced the most severe post-glacial extinctions of any mammal fauna, and today only 15 putative species, mostly highly threatened capromyid rodents, survive in the region. In marked contrast to other insular regions which still retain a significant component of their pre-human mammal fauna (e.g. Madagascar), there have been only limited attempts to reconstruct either the colonization history of the insular Caribbean by different mammal lineages, or inter-island patterns of Quaternary mammalian phylogeny and biogeography.

 

In order to better understand the origins and evolution of this fascinating and formerly highly diverse fauna, we have been working on the recovery and analysis of DNA from a wide range of Caribbean mammal remains. The conditions in most Caribbean Quaternary sites are however not well suited for the preservation of organic molecules, despite their relatively recent age. In this talk I will discuss our ongoing work, with a focus on our efforts to utilise next generation sequencing on this poorly preserved material.

 

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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Grouse1.jpg

Hein van Grouw

Department of Life Sciences, Natural History Museum

 

Wednesday 19 of February 11:00

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

 

Grouse are subject to three peculiarities that have caused a lot of taxonomic confusion in this group of birds in the past. These phenomena are hybridisation, sex-change plumages and colour aberrations. While these occurrences are usually rare in birds, they appear to be quite common in grouse. Up to now it is unknown why the phenomena are so frequent among these birds and if there is an evolutionary explanation. This talk presents insights into an ongoing research project on grouse specimens in natural history museums that re-analyses our knowledge of such aberrations.

 

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