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30 Posts tagged with the life_sciences_seminar tag
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Adrian GloverDeep-Sea Systematics and Ecology Group, Department of Life Sciences

Wednesday 28 January 11:00

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


The deep oceans contain a vast and untapped wealth of minerals useful to humans. In geological terms, there is much known with regard the distribution of these minerals at different types of deep-sea environment. The first polymetallic (or manganese) nodules were recovered by the Challenger expedition in 1873, in the deep Atlantic. In the 1960s, the first estimates were made of the total mineral wealth of the oceans, and the first surveys undertaken. In 1978, the first fully integrated mining trials recovered several hundred tonnes of nodules from the central abyssal Pacific at depths of 5500m; in the preceding year, hydrothermal vents were discovered on the Galapagos rift. Since then, an average of 5 hydrothermal vent fields have been discovered every year, and 19 exploration licences for deep-sea minerals in both abyssal nodule and deep-sea vent environments have been issued by the United Naitons International Seabed Authority, 5 of these in 2014 alone. The United Kingdom government is sponsor to 2 exploration licence claims in the central Pacifc covering 267,000 square km, an area larger thant the UK itself.

Despite our accumulated knowledge of the mineral wealth of deep-sea ecosystems, our biological data remains extremely patchy. The central Pacific nodule regions have been well-sampled for nodules, but the majority of species are undescribed and fundamental questions such as the biogeographic distributions of animals unstudied. The diversity and ecological resilience of species to disturbance regimes are largely untested. At hydrothermal vents, critical data such as degrees of endemicity and gene-flow between vent fields is lacking.

The NHM is in a unique position to provide advice to industry and government, as well as academic research, in deep-sea mining from both the geological and environmental point of view. This has potential to be a key area in our Sustainable Futures strategy. In my research group, we have been working with an industrial contractor on the UK-1 deep-sea mining claim in the central Pacific for the last 18 months and are part of an EU FP7 deep-sea mining project. In this talk I will outline some of the history of deep-sea mining, the fundamental science at stake, our role in current projects, the importance of taxonomy, open data and bioinformatics and some of our plans for our forthcoming fieldwork (we sail for a 2-month trip on Feb 12).

 

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

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Menno Schilthuizen, Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, the Netherlands

 

Wednesday 19 November 11:00

 

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

 

 

As all taxonomists know, in many animal groups, the genitalia are the organs that differ most between species. Although this clearly means that genital evolution must be particularly rapid, the causes for their evolutionary diversification have only recently begun to be understood. I will show examples of various processes that may or may not drive male and female (and hermaphrodite) genital evolution, such as the lock-and-key hypothesis, cryptic female choice, sperm competition, and sexually antagonistic coevolution. A popular account of this field of research can be found in my recent book Nature's Nether Regions (Penguin, 2014).

 

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

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Pavel Pecháček & David Stella,  Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic

 

Friday 21 November 11:00

 

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

 

 

brimstone NaturalHistoryMuseum_PictureLibrary_001964_IA.jpg

 

The males of the Brimstone butterfly (Gonepteryx rhamni) have ultraviolet patterns on the dorsal surfaces of their wings. Using geometric morphometrics, we have analysed correlations between environmental variables (climate, productivity) and shape variability of the ultraviolet pattern and the forewing in specimens of Palaearctic butterflies. Using principal component analysis (PCA) precipitation, temperature, latitude correlated with shape variation of the ultraviolet patterns across the Palaearctic region. We observed a systematic increase in the relative area of ultraviolet colouration with increasing temperature and precipitation and decreasing latitude. We conclude that the variation in shape of ultraviolet patterns on the forewings of male Brimstone butterflies is correlated with large-scale environmental factors.

 

 

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

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Taxonomy and Phylogeny of the beetle family Prionoceridae (Coleoptera: Cleroidea) in the “Indo-Burma hotspot”

 

Michael Geiser, Department of Life Sciences, NHM


Wednesday 12 November 11:00


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


Eight years of study on one of the most neglected and poorly-known beetle families revealed a number of taxonomic novelties and, for the first time, shed some light on this group’s ecology and distribution. In the framework of a PhD thesis, the fauna of the Indochinese subregion (largely congruent with the more recently proposed “Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot”) was revised. Two new genera and a 23 new species were described, several more are awaiting description. A molecular phylogeny of the family supported the new genera and revealed a number of interesting patterns in biogeography and life-history of these poorly-known beetles.

 

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

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Arthropod specimens and genome skimming: Extracting a large panel of diet, symbiotic and phylogenomic information

 

Benjamin Linard, Department of Life Sciences, NHM

 

Wednesday 15 October 1100

 

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

 

 

Genome skimming (GS) is the shallow sequencing of the DNA extracted from pooled specimens. This approach was successfully tested on plants to extract simultaneously chloroplast / mitochondria / rRNAs and nuclear markers for phylogenomics and ecological studies. We previously produced insect specimen pools, initially to generate hundreds of complete mitochondria but also skimming the nuclear genomes of the specimens and their gut content. We will describe here the promising potential of GS when applied to arthropods.

 

In particular, we will show: (1) how trophic interaction between aphid preys, ladybirds (Coccinellini specimens) and associated symbiont can be skimmed from gut contents; (2) why a large panel of DNA markers (mitochondria, coding regions, repeats) are systematically leachable from insect pools through GS; (3) why applying GS to field collected material could extend our knowledge of insect genome evolution and uncover several ecological messages.

 

ladybird small.jpg

 

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

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Robert W. Scotland, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford

 

Wednesday 9 July 11:00

 

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

 

 

The collective efforts of taxonomists over time has played a pivotal role in identifying many natural groups of monophyletic taxa.  How this task has been achieved is by no means clear given that for much of the history of taxonomy there has been no universally agreed method for discovering taxa. Nevertheless, many monophyletic taxa were discovered through the identification of shared characters (novelties, special similarities, synapomorphies, taxic homologues, good characters, conserved characters).  It seems the history of taxonomy is the history of ‘character weighting’ in favour of some characters being useful and others not. In more recent times all characters have been considered phylogenetically useful but only at the appropriate hierarchical level. Thus phylogenetic analysis of morphological data has become akin to the study of character evolution. 

 

In this talk I will show that morphological traits are poorly correlated with phylogeny and that measures ofphylogenetic diversity in conservation may not maximize feature diversity. Furthermore, because the probability of two random binary characters being compatible with each other converges to zero exponentially quickly as the number of taxa grows, then compatibility is best able to accurately discover and distinguish evolutionary novelty.

 

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

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Margaret Cawsey, Curator of Data, Australian National Wildlife Collection, CSIRO

 

Friday 4 July 11:00

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

 

Specimen-based collection records from museums and herbaria are often regarded as a more authoritative basis for research than observational assertions. Through the Atlas of Living Australia (www.ala.org.au), Australian collections have a centralised venue for sharing their biodiversity data on a large scale. *3.3 million collection records are brought together with a variety of tools that enable researchers to select, interrogate, map and analyse these data. Scientists are taking advantage of the increasing accessibility and large numbers of these records to enhance their research - illustrative examples are presented. Advantage also accrues to collections, in that the value of their data to researchers, policy-makers, environmental managers and the community at large is demonstrated by data download statistics. The Atlas also provides tools for researchers to communicate with curators, in effect permitting collections to crowd-source the expert identification of data errors, facilitating rapid correction.


(*3.1 million have locational coordinates)

 

 

 

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

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Wednesday 2 July 11:00

 

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

 

 

Insects of Porton Down

 

Duncan Sivell, Curator of Diptera, NHM

 

Porton Down, in Wiltshire, is a wildlife-rich site that is, unsurprisingly, poorly collected.  We have been on several collecting trips to Porton Down and involved in training staff there in collecting and sorting insects. Here I present some preliminary results from the first two years of this collaboration.

 


Sampling insects from wild potatoes and tomatoes in Peru

 

Daniel Whitmore, Curator of Diptera, NHM


One of the goals of the NHM’s Crops Wild Relatives Initiative is to map and model the distributions of plant wild relatives and their potential insect pests, based on the digitisation of museum collections and on the collection of new data from the wild. In late February-early March 2014 I participated in one of the CWR field trips in Peru. We explored four valleys in the Lima and Ancash departments from sea level up to 4700 m, sampling from ca. 30 sites and 130 plants. In this talk I will present an overview of the habitats we visited, the plants we sampled from, the collecting methods used and some (very) preliminary results, as well as a few entomological highlights from the trip.

 

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

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Nora Castañeda

 

International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

 

Friday 27 June 11:00

 

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

 

 

Crop wild relatives (CWR) are increasingly used in breeding due to unique traits that are transferable thanks to their genetic closeness to cultivated species. Despite their importance, they are underrepresented in ex situ genebanks and threats such as land use and climate change may jeopardize their survival in their natural habitats. As part of the Project "Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change: Collecting, Protecting and Preparing the Crop Wild Relatives", we have prioritized taxa requiring urgent collection for ex situ conservation and mapped the distributions of near 1000 crop wild relatives, finding patterns of species richness globally.

 

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

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Chris Yesson

 

Department of Life Sciences, NHM

 

Friday 13 June 11:00

 

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

 

Chris Yesson will be talking about his two concurrent research projects.  On first sight it may seem that examining the distribution of coastal seaweeds of the UK may not have much overlap with a study assessing the impact of trawling on benthic habitats on the continental shelf of west Greenland, but commonalities in approaches to spatial and imaging analysis means there is more overlap that just one researcher jumping between topics.

 

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

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Ellie Adamson,   Department of Life Sciences, NHM

 

Wednesday 11 June 11:00

 

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

 

 

Freshwater habitats in tropical Asia are home to many interesting endemic freshwater fishes. Their diversification history is frequently explained in terms of eustacy and past river geomorphology.

 

This talk will discuss vicariant patterns in fishes across freshwater habitats from India to Wallace’s line, based on the distribution of their genetic diversity. In particular, I’ll focus on the biogeography of snakeheads and gouramis.

 

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

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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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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

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Suzanne Williams

Department of Life Sciences, NHM

Wednesday 30 April 11:00

 

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


The deep-sea accounts for approximately 60% of the Earth's surface, and yet little is known about its rich diversity. This fragile ecosystem is under threat from habitat destruction and over-exploitation from fishing and mining ventures. It is vital we learn more about the diversity of the deep-sea biota and their evolution before these habitats suffer further destruction.

 

Understanding their evolution involves answering significant questions such as how have deep sea organisms adapted to cope with the demanding nature of this extreme environment, where problems include high pressure, limited food resources, low light and the difficulty of producing and maintaining a protective shell.

 

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/resources-rx/images/1036/deep-sea-trochoid_125316_1.jpg

A new species of deep-sea trochid

 

I investigate the effects of three separate factors and their effects on diversification in two families of deep-sea gastropods: 1) global climate change, 2) tectonic events and 3) key innovations including the loss of eye function and changes in trophic level.

 

For more information on Suzanne's research, see her project pages.

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