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15 Posts tagged with the life_sciences_seminar tag
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Denis Michez,  University of Mons, Belgium

 

Wednesday 2 April 11:00

 

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

 

Bees (Anthophila) are one of the major groups of angiosperm-pollinating insects and accordingly are widely studied in both basic and applied research, for which it is essential to have a clear understanding of their phylogeny, and evolutionary history. Direct evidence of bee evolutionary history has been hindered by a dearth of available fossils needed to determine the timing and tempo of their diversification, as well as episodes of extinction.

NaturalHistoryMuseum_PictureLibrary_015744_Comp-1 bee.jpgCopal from East Africa containing Apis mellifera

 

Here we assess the similarity of the forewing shape of bee fossils with extant and fossil taxa using geometric morphometrics analyses. Predictive discriminant analyses show that fossils share similar diagnostic forewing shapes with families like Apidae, Halictidae, Andrenidae and Melittidae. Their taxonomic assessments provide new information on the distribution and timing of particular bee groups like corbiculate groups, most notably the extension into North America of possible Eocene-Oligocene cooling-induced extinctions.

 

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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Maarja Öpik,  Department of Botany, University of Tartu, Estonia


Wednesday 26 March 11:00   Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)


Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF, Phylum Glomeromycota) are soil and root-dwelling, obligate plant root symbiotic organisms present in most terrestrial environments. Their occurrence and diversity have important roles in life, and in diversity and functioning of host plant communities. Therefore, understanding the taxonomic and functional diversity of AMF is the topic of increasing popularity. Their diversity patterns are described to address questions ranging from climate change and land use effects to understanding ecosystem succession and macroecological patterns.

 

Diversity of AMF is commonly measured using DNA sequences of nuclear ribosomal operon markers; the most frequently used one being the SSU rRNA gene. Total AMF molecular operational taxonomic unit (MOTU) richness of SSU rRNA gene sequences suggests at least twice as high number of species present as is currently known on the basis of morphotaxonomy.

 

These MOTUs have been organised into a common system of “virtual taxa” (VT) in a public database MaarjAM (http://maarjam.botany.ut.ee). VT are delimited as phylogenetically related clades of sequences of SSU rRNA gene at approximately species level. VT nomenclature provides comparability among data and consistent communication among scientists.Application of the VT nomenclature has allowed description of AMF diversity patterns from global to local scales.

 

In this talk, I will present evidence of global scale patterns of AMF diversity being related to biomes and climatic zones; and of local scale patterns related to host ecological groups, spatiotemporal processes and root- vs. soil-localising AMF growth strategies. I will conclude with highlighting the questions of urgent need to advance the understanding about this important group of organisms.

 

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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seaweed.jpg

 


Juliet Brodie and Jo Wilbraham: Department of Life Sciences, NHM

 

Friday 7 February 11:00

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


The seashores and shallow seas around Britain support an important component of UK biodiversity with over 650 species of red, green and brown seaweeds which represent c. 7% of the described seaweed flora of the world.  However, over 55% are Data Deficient according to IUCN criteria, there is increasing evidence that large brown habitat-forming seaweeds (kelps and fucoids) are disappearing, and invasive seaweeds species are increasing.  Seaweeds remain an under-recorded group with over 50% data deficient, yet there is an urgent and increasing need for good quality, verifiable data on past and present species occurrence to inform on e.g. environmental change, potential pressures from harvesting, loss of habitats, increases in non-native species (currently c. 6% of the UK flora). 

 

Data from the NHM seaweed collection provide crucial evidence points for mapping changing patterns in species distribution around the UK but regional museums often hold important collections from their local area which will help fill in current spatial and temporal data gaps.  So we set about capturing from UK national and regional museum collections specimen data against a target list of seaweed species in order to provide data on distribution of species over time around the UK, and to make these data widely available via a purpose built website which provides a unique resource for disseminating information about these species.  Fourteen institutions participated, 8334 records were received of which 4334 were newly generated. 

 

We will describe this model project, discuss the findings in relation to temporal and spatial change, detective work, social history, taxonomy, the role of Queen Victoria and her children, and the detrimental impact that the Victorian collectors had on some of our more charismatic seaweeds.  We will also demonstrate the web site: http://seaweeds.myspecies.info/.

 

This project was funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund.

 

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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LIFE SCIENCES DEPARTMENT SEMINAR

 

 

Bees.jpg

 

 

Taxonomic background information is essential for bee conservation

 

Denis Michez

Laboratory of Zoology,  University of Mons,  Belgium

 

Friday 31 of January 11:00

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


Bees are a monophyletic group of largely pollenivorous species derived from among the predatory apoid wasps. Their extant diversity is estimated to be about 20.000 species worldwide, with 2000 species known from Europe. Many European bee species are in strong decline and several working groups are currently analyzing potential drivers of range contraction. Here I would like to address the importance of clear taxonomic background information to correctly characterize bee decline and to develop a conservation program at global scale.

 

 

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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LIFE SCIENCES DEPARTMENT SEMINAR

 

British Butterfly.jpg

 

 

 

Using the NHM collections to track the long-term seasonal response of British butterflies to climate change

 

Steve Brooks

Department of Life Sciences, NHM

 

Wednesday 29 January 11:00

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

 

 

Changes in the emergence dates of British butterflies have been documented from observational monitoring data which mostly date from the 1970s. Few data, however, are currently available to extend the baseline to the period before the onset of rapid climate change. An important, but neglected, source of information is available in the NHM collections, which can extend this record to the mid-19th century. Our results show that British butterfly collection data reflect phenological responses to temperature. First collection dates of museum specimens advance during warm years and retreat during cold years. Rates of change, however, appear to be slowing in some species, when compared to recent observational data, suggesting some species may be approaching the limits of phenological advancement. Steve Brooks will discuss the potential  of the NHM collections to study the response of animals and plants to recent climate change.

 

 

 

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

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Bluebell.jpg

 

 

“Across the disciplines” - a student’s perspective on the Marie Curie Initial Training network INTERCROSSING: Introduction to a natural hybrid zone between bluebells species in northern Spain


Jeannine Marquardt

Department of Life Sciences, NHM

 

Wednesday 4 of December 11:00
Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)

 

This presentation will be split in two parts: (1) I will introduce the Marie Curie ITN INTERCROSSING. The principal strategic objective of INTERCROSSING is the cultivation of a new type of early stage researcher (ESR) to deal with challenges of exploiting the latest Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies. The consortium behind INTERCROSSING are all using NGS technologies, but have found the recruitment of appropriate Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) a major obstacle to build on their innovations. A combination of industrial and academic partners deliver training courses equipping the ESRs to traverse the barriers between these disciplines. Taught courses will provide practical experience of NGS data acquisition, computational methods, model-based statistical inference and population genetics. The NHM - the only charity partner - will deliver training in citizen science and public communication. My PhD project within the ITN (2), one of the few actually using data of non-model organisms, is about studying introgression between Hyacinthoides non-scripta (the British bluebell) and H. hispanica in the natural environment in northern Spain. The analysis of hybrid zones provides a window into speciation from which we can learn about processes that drive species divergence. Especially using genome wide markers generated with NGS technology we have the potential to gain lots of information about the species’ evolutionary history.  I will focus on early results from fieldwork and preliminary analyses of the transcriptome.

 

 

botanical-garden-3.jpg

(Image from Perm State University Web pages)

 

 

Botanical Garden of the Perm State University, Russia: its history, living collections and research

 

Sergei Shumikhin

Perm State University, Russia

 

Wednesday 4 of December 11:30
Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)


The oldest in the Urals botanical garden of the Perm University (Perm Botanical Garden) was founded in 1922 by Professor Alexander Genkel, a prominent Russian algologist famous for his work in the Arctic Ocean. In the past, several renowned Russian scientists, including physiologist Dmitry Sabinin and geobotanist Vladimir Baranov were among the Directors of the Perm Botanical Garden. Now it is a large scientific, educational and cultural centre of the Western Ural with the ex situ collections totalling over 6,500 taxa.  One of the main activities of the Botanical Garden is studying and preservation of biodiversity of the local flora. This talk presents the history of the Perm Botanical Garden, its living collections and main research activities, including introduction and re-introduction of Red List species.

 

 

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

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Inside Life: 3D Micro-CT Applications for Life Sciences

 

 

Dan Sykes

Micro-CT Scanning Specialist, Imaging and Analysis Centre, Science Facilities, NHM

 

Friday 28 June 11:00

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

 

The Micro-CT facility at the NHM provides a cutting edge and innovative approach to museum science. The facility carries out projects covering a diverse range of research fields, including investigations into meteorites, paintings, fossils and many more. However, more recently the applications of micro-CT to biology have been rapidly expanding, allowing new ways of examining specimens in 3D. As this is a non-destructive, non-invasive technique it also allows us to study what’s inside important and rarecollection material, from our Egyptian mummified animal collection to virtually dissecting brains from insects’ heads. Through examining case studies, I will explore some of the most interesting and innovative studies and techniques using micro-CT at the museum. The aim of this talk is to encourage discussion about the potential of micro-CT to further museum research; and highlight interesting areas of future development that could open up new avenues of research.

 

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

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Miniatures, morphology and molecules: problems with the phylogenetic position of Paedocypris

 

 

miniture fish.jpg

 

 

Ralf Britz

Vertebrates Division, Dept. Life Sciences, NHM

 

Wednesday 26 June 11:00

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

 

The highly miniaturized fish species of the cyprinid genus Paedocypris are among the smallest of all vertebrates. Their skeleton shows a puzzling mixture ofhighly reductive and morphologically novel characters. Numerous structures present in most bony fishes are absent in Paedocypris due to an organism wide case of progenesis or developmental truncation. I highlight the problems associated with working morphologically with such a truncated organism and offer some solutions. I also look in detail at the evidence from recent molecular systematic analyses some of which are in sharp contrast to the results based on morphology. I touch upon the general issue of morphology versus molecules and discuss it in the context of the phylogenetic position of Paedocypris.

 

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

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Deep Sea ID: creating an iPhone and iPad app for science

 

Adrian Glover

AQUID (Aquatic Invertebrates Division), Dep. of Life Sciences, NHM

 

Wednesday 19th June 11:00 Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)

 

Deep Sea ID is the first iOS (iPhone and iPad) app from the NHM science group, released in March this year. It is a field guide interface to the World Register of Deep-Sea Species (WoRDSS) that currently stores on your device (for offline access) the taxonomic information for over 20,000 deep sea species, over 350 high resolution photographs of deep-sea specimens as well as links to online taxonomic tools, sources and important references.In this talk and demo I will explain why we made this app, how we did it, the importance of open data and take you on a visual tour through some of the amazing creatures of the deep sea.

 

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

 

64117_bathykurila-guaymasensis.jpgBathykurila guaymasensis


Credit: Adrian Glover.  http://www.marinespecies.org/deepsea/index.php  CC-BY-NC-SA

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Friday 24 of May 11:00
Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)

 

 

Octocorals of the family Xeniidae in Red Sea and beyond

 

 

Yehuda Benayahu - Department of Zoology, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv,  Israel

 

 

Octocorals are common throughout the Indo-Pacific reefs and play an important role in the ecology of the ecosystem, yet they remain dramatically understudied. The seminar will deal with octocorals of the family Xeniidae, a highly abundant component of Indo-Pacific coral reefs, particularly in the Red Sea. Aspects concerning their life history and acquisition of symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) at early ontogenetic stages will be addressed. Opportunistic Xeniidae are taking over degraded reefs but taxonomic difficulties force researchers to recognize them as a group whichprecludes detailed understanding of the reef environment and processes on impacted reefs by genera or even species. Our ongoing project deals with phylogeny of the family including provision of species identifications based on their morphological characters. Recent findings reveal that novel microstructural features of their sclerites might be critically important in resolving taxonomic difficulties. Such a study requires introduction of high resolution scanning electron microscopy at magnifications never used before by octocoral taxonomists. Insights on microstructural features of xeniid sclerites also enabled us to examine the effect of ocean acidification on these octocorals and understand the possible function of their living tissue in protection against deteriorating effects of acidic conditions.  It is anticipated that studies on xeniids will facilitate future surveys aimed at the maintenance and greater understanding of coral reef diversity and reef-environment function and sustainability.

 

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

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Wednesday 22nd May 11:00
Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)

 

 

Polyembryony and unexpected gender roles in hermaphroditic colonial invertebrates

 

 

Helen Jenkins - PhD student, Aquatic Invertebrates, Dept. of Life Sciences, NHM

 

 

Polyembryony – the production of multiple genetically identical embryos from a single fertilised egg – is a seemingly paradoxical combination of contrasting reproductive modes that has evolved numerous times and persists in a diverse range of taxa including rust fungi, algae, plants and animals. Polyembryony is thought to characterise an entire order of bryozoans, the Cyclostomata. A molecular genetic approach was used to confirm this widely cited inference, based on early microscopy, and to test the apparently paradoxical nature of this reproductive mode in relation to cyclostomes, and will be reported here. Additional research, also presented here, has revealed further insights into the mating systems of this relatively understudied group of hermaphroditic colonial invertebrates. Mating  trials indicated a greater degree of female investment in the presence of allosperm in Tubulipora plumosa and produced evidence of separate-sex colonies in Filicrisia geniculata. If not a complete transition to gonochorism, the situation in F. geniculata indicates at least very pronounced gender specialisation. Further investigations into mating systems of this group may reveal more examples, with implications for our understanding of hermaphroditism and its related traits.

 

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

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Friday 17 May 11:00


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

 

The Energetic Niche of Species: Lessons from the Deep Sea

 

Craig R. McClain, Assistant Director of Science, National Evolutionary Synthesis Center

 

Life requires energy. Biological organization—the culmination of life in all its forms—is determined largely by the flow and transformation of energy. Three distinct types of energy affect biological systems: solar radiation (in the form of photons), thermal kinetic energy (as indexed by temperature), and chemical potential energy stored in reduced carbon compounds (i.e. food). 

 

I contend and will discuss that much like organisms possess thermal niches so do they possess chemical energetic niches (CEN). Evidence from both local and oceanic scale studies of beta-diversity, i.e. species turnover, suggests unique suites of species inhabit different regimes of carbon availability.  The evolution of body size and life history strategies in molluscs appear to be linked to productivity gradients and may have promoted diversification in this group.  Thus, changes in ocean productivity as a result of climate change may greatly impact biodiversity by modifying available niche space for ocean species.

 

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

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Life Sciences Seminar

 

Sap-suckers of the Tree of Life: how closely are they related to their feeding branches?

 

 

David Ouvrard

Terrestrial Invertebrates, Dept. of Life Sciences, NHM

 

Wednesday 19 of December 11:00
Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)

 

 

Sternorrhyncha comprise four super-families among the most damaging agricultural pests. Furthermore, Coccoidea (scale insects - 8000 species), Aphidoidea (aphids, phylloxerans, and adelgids - 5000 species), Psylloidea (jumping plant-lice - 3800 species) and Aleyrodoidea (whiteflies - 1500 species) are driving ecosystems as primary consumers of phloem sap. Various degrees of insect/plant associations, from strict monophagy to high polyphagy, are observed among them and at different classification levels.

 

Until now, several assumptions of co- or ‘parallel-’ evolution between the insects and their host-plants have been made, but rarely using a phylogenetic framework to test these hypotheses. Focusing on Psylloidea, I will trace the macroevolution of these phytophagous insects, from fossil proto-homopterans to the extant fauna, based on the evolution of some striking morphological characters.

 

In parallel, the large-scale analysis of patterns of associations between insects and plants has been made possible using the global datasets compiled and organised in databases such as “Psyl’list” or “White-Files”, originally oriented towards taxonomic information dissemination only. The synthesis of recent taxonomic studies into a revised classification of the Psylloidea offers a framework for further phylogenetic reconstructions, a research basis in the fields of Ecology and Conservation, as well as a management tool for collaborators involved in Integrated Pest Management

 

 

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

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Life Sciences Seminar


Inferring the diversification of land plants at and in the shadow of the Roof of the World

 

Harald Schneider

Plants, Dept. of Life Sciences, NHM

 

Wednesday 12 of December 11:00
Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)


Orogenic events in earth history, e.g. mountain formation, have made a profound impact on the assembly of biological diversity. For example, recent studies of the biodiversity of South America recovered strong evidence that the Cenozoic rise of the Andeans triggered the rapid diversification of many lineages of vascular plants.

 

However, relatively little attention has been given to the effect of the rise of the Himalaya on plant diversity. The rise of this mountain chains were triggered by the collision of the Indian tectonic plate with the Eurasian continent 70 million years ago but major uplifts date back to more recent times. Especially the rather recent formation of the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau, around 3-4 million years ago, had a considerable impact on the monsoon climates in South East Asia. Thus the rise of this plateau affected not only the evolution of plants adapted to the alpine conditions at the high altitudes of the Himalaya but also the expansion of xeric habitats in central Asia and the enhanced monsoons affecting South East Asia and South Asia.

 

The hypothesis of the impact of the rise of the Himalaya on plant diversity in South East Asia is studied employing mainly phylogenetic approaches that incorporate divergence time estimates, ancestral area reconstruction, inference of niche evolution, and estimates of diversification rates. The analyses also incorporate evidence from micro-paleontological research.

 

Comparative assessment of the existing and newly generated phylogenetic hypotheses for a wide range of angiosperms and ferns recovered evidence supporting the hypothesis of a substantial impact of the rise of the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau on the assembly of lineage diversity. This result is consistent with palaeoclimate reconstructions that are based on pollen and spore record. In comparison, the recovered patterns indicate the involvement of different processes in response to the Cenozoic mountain formations in South America and South East Asia.

 

The presentation summarises research that was carried out during my time as a senior visiting professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Besides the presentation of the results of the research, I will also touch on issues related to the current research conditions in China.

 

Harald Schneider

 

 

 

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

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Department of Life Sciences seminar

 

Insect diversity and pest control in the anthropogenic habitats of NE China

 

Jan Axmacher

Department of Geography, University College London

 

Friday 7 December 11:00
Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)

 

 

The natural environment of NE China has been altered by humans for thousands of years. Nonetheless, both intensity and spatial extend of these alterations have greatly increased since the middle of the last century. Agricultural production was greatly intensified, while the remaining natural forest cover was widely cleared. The severe environmental degradation which followed has led to an increased awareness of the importance of environmental issues in the last few decades, with re- and afforestation projects being currently established throughout China at an unprecedented scale. At the same time, agricultural practices following the maxim ‘the more, the better’ are also increasingly questioned, with the importance of biological pest control recognized as a potential cheap and less environmentally detrimental alternative to chemical pesticides.

 

Given these recent developments, I have started a number of collaborative research projects with the Chinese Agricultural University and the Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences to investigate diversity and species composition of ground beetle assemblages in reforested habitats and the agricultural landscapes of the Hebei province, looking at both the diversity and potential pest control function of these mostly predatory beetles. Our research shows that the diversity of ground beetles varies strongly between different types of forest ecosystems, with naturally regenerating birch forests and open larch plantations showing a high abundance, but low diversity in carabids. Plantations of native oak and pine monocultures, as well as forests composed of a mixture of planted and naturally regenerating trees harbour distinctly higher diversity levels.

 

In the agricultural landscape, even very intensively managed double-cropping systems comprising of summer maize and winter wheat monocultures can support surprisingly high levels of ground beetle diversity, while cotton monocultures were found to harbour distinctly lower levels of carabid diversity. Landscape elements like the diversity of land-use types were found to have only a limited effect on the diversity of the ground beetle community at least in some of our study areas. A comparison of diversity patterns in ground beetles and geometrid moths finally showed that links between these highly diverse herbivore and insectivore taxa are highly complex, with distinctly different spatial patterns observed in these two families.

 

 

 

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