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On the nature & causes of volcanism in the Galápagos archipelago


Tuesday 21st May - 4.00 pm - Mineralogy seminar room


Dr Sally A Gibson, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge, UK.


Diversity appears to be key to understanding natural phenomena in the Galápagos archipelago. Whilst most associate this with the unusual creatures that inhabit the islands it is also true of their volcanic nature.

Historical perspective: The volcanic nature of Galápagos was based on reports of pirates, buccaneers and naval admirals until 1835, when Charles Darwin visited the archipelago during the Beagle voyage. Although widely regarded as a zoologist, Darwin was first and foremost a geologist and especially interested in the formation of volcanic islands. Whilst in Galápagos, most of his time was spent on James Island (now known as Santiago) and here he made a crucial observation regarding the occurrence of different volcanic rock types; he realised that confinement of low-density trachytes to elevated parts and higher-density basalts to lower slopes of the same volcano meant that different types of magma could form in ‘the body of a volcanic mountain’ by sinking of crystals. In this regard he was the first scientist to link the diversity of volcanic rock types to what we now refer to as crystal settling. Darwin’s theory of crystal sinking was published in 1844 but not widely accepted at the time.


21st Century importance: The Galápagos archipelago is a natural laboratory for Earth Scientists and provides a unique opportunity to test models of mantle melting. It is one of the world’s most volcanically active regions with eruptions of predominantly basaltic lavas occurring every 3 to 5 years. Galápagos is located above a mantle plume and adjacent to an oceanic spreading centre. Whilst the greatest volumes of melt occur in the west of the archipelago, close to the postulated axis of the plume, volcanism is widespread. There are no age-progressive linear relationships between activity and distance from the location of the present-day hotspot and no temporal variation in magma type as there is for example at Hawaii. The large geochemical dataset for recently erupted basalts and high-resolution seismic database allow greater constraints to be imposed on the causes of volcanism than for any other archipelago. Melt generation occurs both in the region of active mantle upwelling, which has a radius of ~100 km, and also where plume mantle is being dispersed laterally towards the adjacent spreading centre. The composition of erupted basalts is closely linked to the thickness of the underlying lithosphere: numerical modelling of geochemical and geophysical datasets has revealed that this is relatively thin (45 km) beneath the NE of the archipelago and allows the generation of tholeiitic basalts. Above the current zone of active plume upwelling the lithosphere is thicker (60 km) such that the amount of melting is lower and alkali basalts are generated. Isla Santiago is located in central Galápagos above the margin of the zone of active upwelling and also on the edge of the zone of thin lithosphere. The island is unique in that it has experienced recent eruptions of basaltic melts with extremely varied major- and trace-element and also isotopic compositions. This diversity is a manifestation of both complex physical processes and compositional variations in the underlying mantle plume.

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Tuesday 7th May - 4.00 pm

Mineralogy seminar room


Another point of view on sexual selection in prehistoric animals

Dr Rob Knell, Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary University of London.


Sexual selection is one of the most important driving forces in evolution and is responsible for a tremendous amount of the morphological diversity that we see today. Many of the most charismatic prehistoric animals also appear to carry traits that could be explained as the result of sexual selection: horns, crests, plates, sails and many others. Nonetheless, palaeontologists have traditionally avoided using sexual selection as an explanation for these features and have preferred mechanical, thermoregulatory or species-recognition based interpretations, probably because it is very hard to produce testable hypotheses about the behavioural significance of such traits when we are unable to observe an animal's behaviour. This conservative approach is likely to lead to a significant degree of misinterpretation - sexual selection is a ubiquitous and powerful force and there is no reason to discount it as an explanation for morphological diversity in the fossil record. I will examine the problem of how we can detect sexual selection in the fossil record and discuss issues such as sexual dimorphism, allometry and how it changes with sexual maturity, apparent cost and diversity as potentially helpful indicators of sexually selected features in extinct animals.



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Collection Management Seminar

Posted by C Lowry Apr 18, 2013

Rethinking volunteering: V Factor & the Throughflow Project


Thursday 25th April 2013, 2.30pm-4.00pm


Flett Lecture Theatre, NHM, South Kensington



Ali Thomas, Volunteers Project Manager, NHM,
Lyndsey Douglas, Indo-Pacific Corals Project Officer, NHM
Nadia Santodomingo Aguilar, Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher, NHM.


What’s it about?
Volunteers play a key role in the smooth and successful running of so many Museum programmes and help us to achieve our full potential and work to maximum capacity. In recent years much attention and energy has gone into professionalising how we manage volunteers and great strides have been made.

Last year in 2012 the Museum launched a new part to our volunteer offer called V Factor; a volunteer inclusion initiative with collections and volunteer engagement at the very heart of it.

Ali, Lyndsey & Nadia and a team of volunteers will talk about how the V Factor experience of the Throughflow project has taken key Museum strategies to unite Science, Visitor Experience, Learning and volunteer best practice to create a different kind of volunteer opportunity, aiming to "take the public from one side of the display case to the other.”

Who should come?
The seminar is open to all members of the museum who are interested in getting involved or learning more about the ‘Throughflow’ project, volunteer management and volunteers in collections care/research. We also welcome colleagues from other institutions who would find the seminar of interest. There is no booking fee and only large parties need to notify the organiser for catering purposes.


Science Group: All senior departmental managers , collection management staff and all volunteer managers.
Public Engagement Group:  Any staff who work with and use collections or manage staff who work with collections.



Tea and coffee will be available in the lobby area after the talk.



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Recent Publications - April

Posted by C Lowry Apr 18, 2013

Publications for the previous 4 weeks (Search done 11th April)

Search on the basis of ‘Nat SAME Hist SAME Mus* SAME Lon*’ using Web of Science + TRING




Buffet, P.-E., Pan, J.-F., Poirier, L., Amiard-Triquet, C., Amiard, J.-C., Gaudin, P., Risso-de Faverney, C., Guibbolini, M., Gilliland, D., VALSAMI-JONES, E. & Mouneyrac, C. 2013. Biochemical and behavioural responses of the endobenthic bivalve Scrobicularia plana to silver nanoparticles in seawater and microalgal food. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 89: 117-124.  ( )

Buffet, P.-E., Richard, M., Caupos, F., Vergnoux, A., Perrein-Ettajani, H., Luna-Acosta, A., Akcha, F., Amiard, J.-C., Amiard-Triquet, C., Guibbolini, M., Risso-De Faverney, C., Thomas-Guyon, H., Reip, P., DYBOWSKA, A., BERHANU, D., VALSAMI-JONES, E. & Mouneyrac, C. 2013. A Mesocosm Study of Fate and Effects of CuO Nanoparticles on Endobenthic Species (Scrobicularia plana, Hediste diversicolor). Environmental Science & Technology, 47(3): 1620-1628.  ( )

CUADROS, J., AFSIN, B., Jadubansa, P., Ardakani, M., Ascaso, C. & Wierzchos, J. 2013. Microbial and inorganic control on the composition of clay from volcanic glass alteration experiments. American Mineralogist, 98(2-3): 319-334. ( )




Griffiths, N., Mueller, W., JOHNSON, K.G. & Aguilera, O.A. 2013. Evaluation of the effect of diagenetic cements on element/Ca ratios in aragonitic Early Miocene (similar to 16 Ma) Caribbean corals: Implications for 'deep-time' palaeo-environmental reconstructions. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology, 369: 185-200.  ( )

Joshi, J. & EDGECOMBE, G.D. 2013. Revision of the scolopendrid centipede Digitipes Attems, 1930, from India (Chilopoda: Scolopendromorpha): reconciling molecular and morphological estimates of species diversity. Zootaxa, 3626(1): 99-145. 

RASNITSYN, A.P., Aristov, D.S. & Rasnitsyn, D.A. 2013. Insects at the borderline between the Permian and the Early Triassic (Urzhum - Olenek Age) and the problem of Permian-Triassic biodiversity crisis. Zhurnal Obshchei Biologii, 74(1): 43-65. 

Rota-Stabelli, O., DALEY, A.C. & Pisani, D. 2013. Molecular timetrees reveal a Cambrian colonization of land and a new scenario for ecdysozoan evolution. Current Biology, 23(5): 392-398.  ( )


Covey-Crump, S.J., SCHOFIELD, P.F., Stretton, I.C., Daymond, M.R., KNIGHT, K.S. & Tant, J. 2013. Monitoring in situ stress/strain behaviour during plastic yielding in polymineralic rocks using neutron diffraction. Journal of Structural Geology, 47: 36-51.    ( )

Griffin, J.M., BERRY, A.J., Frost, D.J., Wimperis, S. & Ashbrook, S.E. 2013. Water in the Earth's mantle: a solid-state NMR study of hydrous wadsleyite. Chemical Science, 4(4): 1523-1538.)  ( )

Horwell, C.J., WILLIAMSON, B.J., Donaldson, K., LE BLOND, J.S., Damby, D.E. & Bowen, L. 2012. The structure of volcanic cristobalite in relation to its toxicity; relevance for the variable crystalline silica hazard. Particle and Fibre Toxicology, 9.  ( )

KNIGHT, K.S. & Bonanos, N. 2013. Thermoelastic and structural properties of ionically conducting cerate perovskites: (I) BaCeO3 at low temperature in the Pbnm phase. Solid State Ionics, 232: 112-122.   ( )

Kristova, P., Hopkinson, L., Rutt, K., Hunter, H. & CRESSEY, G. 2013. Quantitative analyses of powdered multi-minerallic carbonate aggregates using a portable Raman spectrometer. American Mineralogist, 98(2-3): 401-409.  ( )

Lee, M.R., Tomkinson, T., Mark, D.F., Stuart, F.M. & SMITH, C.L. 2013. Evidence for silicate dissolution on Mars from the Nakhla meteorite. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 48(2): 224-240.  ( )



BELLO, S.M., DELBARRE, G., PARFITT, S.A., CURRANT, A.P., KRUSZYNSKI, R. & STRINGER, C. 2013. Lost and found: the remarkable curatorial history of one of the earliest discoveries of Palaeolithic portable art. Antiquity, 87(335): 237-244.   

Butler, R.J., Benson, R.B.J. & BARRETT, P.M. 2013. Pterosaur diversity: Untangling the influence of sampling biases, Lagerstatten, and genuine biodiversity signals. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology, 372: 78-87.  ( )

CAVIN, L., FOREY, P.L. & Giersch, S. 2013. Osteology of Eubiodectes libanicus (Pictet & Humbert, 1866) and some other ichthyodectiformes (Teleostei): phylogenetic implications. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, 11(2): 115-177.  ( )

LISTER, A.M. & Stuart, A.J. 2013. Extinction chronology of the woolly rhinoceros Coelodonta antiquitatis: reply to Kuzmin [Letter]. Quaternary Science Reviews, 62: 144-146.    ( )

Penkman, K.E.H., Preece, R.C., Bridgland, D.R., Keen, D.H., Meijer, T., PARFITT, S.A., White, T.S. & Collins, M.J. 2013. An aminostratigraphy for the British Quaternary based on Bithynia opercula. Quaternary Science Reviews, 61: 111-134.  ( )

Smith, M.M., JOHANSON, Z., Underwood, C. & Diekwisch, T.G.H. 2013. Pattern formation in development of chondrichthyan dentitions: a review of an evolutionary model. Historical Biology: An International Journal of Paleobiology, 25(2): 127-142.  ( )

Zigaite, Z., RICHTER, M., Karatajute-Talimaa, V. & Smith, M.M. 2013. Tissue diversity and evolutionary trends of the dermal skeleton of Silurian thelodonts. Historical Biology, 25(2): 143-154.  ( )






Angel, M. & GRAVES, C. 2013. Bathyconchoeciinae, a new subfamily of deep oceanic planktonic halocyprid Ostracod (Myodocopa, Ostracoda). Zootaxa, 3630(2): 243-269. 

Bilandzija, H., MORTON, B., Podnar, M. & Cetkovic, H. 2013. Evolutionary history of relict Congeria (Bivalvia: Dreissenidae): unearthing the subterranean biodiversity of the Dinaric Karst. Frontiers in Zoology, 10.  ( )

DOHERTY-BONE, T.M., Gonwouo, N.L., Hirschfeld, M., Ohst, T., Weldon, C., Perkins, M., Kouete, M.T., Browne, R.K., LOADER, S.P., GOWER, D.J., WILKINSON, M.W., Roedel, M.O., Penner, J., Barej, M.F., Schmitz, A., Ploetner, J. & Cunningham, A.A. 2013. Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in amphibians of Cameroon, including first records for caecilians. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, 102(3): 187-+.    ( )

KUKLINSKI, P., Berge, J., McFadden, L., Dmoch, K., Zajaczkowski, M., Nygard, H., Piwosz, K. & Tatarek, A. 2013. Seasonality of occurrence and recruitment of Arctic marine benthic invertebrate larvae in relation to environmental variables. Polar Biology, 36(4): 549-560.  ( )

MAPSTONE, G.M. & Ljubenkov, J.C. 2013. New observations on Dromalia alexandri Bigelow, 1911, a rhodaliid physonect siphonophore from Southern Californian waters. Marine Ecology-an Evolutionary Perspective, 34: 96-112.  ( )

Mathers, T.C., Hammond, R.L., JENNER, R.A., Zierold, T., Haenfling, B. & Gomez, A. 2013. High lability of sexual system over 250 million years of evolution in morphologically conservative tadpole shrimps. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 13.  ( )

Ronowicz, M., Wlodarska-Kowalczuk, M. & KUKLINSKI, P. 2013. Depth- and substrate-related patterns of species richness and distribution of hydroids (Cnidaria, Hydrozoa) in Arctic coastal waters (Svalbard). Marine Ecology-an Evolutionary Perspective, 34: 165-176.  ( )

Scriven, J.J., WOODALL, L.C. & Goulson, D. 2013. Nondestructive DNA sampling from bumblebee faeces. Molecular Ecology Resources, 13(2): 225-229.  ( )





Fan, Y., WARREN, A., Al-Farraj, S.A., Chen, X. & Shao, C. 2013. Morphology and SSU rRNA gene-based phylogeny of two Diophrys-like ciliates from northern china, with notes on morphogenesis of Pseudodiophrys nigricans (Protozoa, Ciliophora). Journal of Morphology, 274(4): 395-403.  ( )

FOSTER, P.G., Bergo, E.S., Bourke, B.P., Oliveira, T.M.P., Nagaki, S.S., Sant'Ana, D.C. & Sallum, M.A.M. 2013. Phylogenetic Analysis and DNA-based Species Confirmation in Anopheles (Nyssorhynchus). PLoS ONE, 8(2).  ( )

Li, J., Liu, W., Gao, S., WARREN, A. & Song, W. 2013. Multigene-Based Analyses of the Phylogenetic Evolution of Oligotrich Ciliates, with Consideration of the Internal Transcribed Spacer 2 Secondary Structure of Three Systematically Ambiguous Genera. Eukaryotic Cell, 12(3): 430-437.  ( )

Xu, D., Sun, P., WARREN, A., Noh, J.H., Choi, D.L., Shin, M.K. & Kim, Y.O. 2013. Phylogenetic Investigations on Ten Genera of Tintinnid Ciliates (Ciliophora: Spirotrichea: Tintinnida), Based on Small Subunit Ribosomal RNA Gene Sequences. Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology, 60(2): 192-202.  ( )




BRAY, R.A. & Justine, J.-L. 2013. A digenean parasite in a mudskipper: Opegaster ouemoensis sp n. (Digenea: Opecoelidae) in Periophthalmus argentilineatus  Valenciennes (Perciformes: Gobiidae) in the mangroves of New Caledonia. Folia Parasitologica, 60(1): 7-16. 

Jabbar, A., Jex, A.R., Mohandas, N., Hall, R.S., LITTLEWOOD, D.T.J. & Gasser, R.B. 2013. The mitochondrial genome of Aelurostrongylus abstrusus -diagnostic, epidemiological and systematic implications. Gene, 516(2): 294-300.  ( )







CAMERON, R.A.D., Cook, L.M. & Greenwood, J.J.D. 2013. Change and stability in a steep morph-frequency cline in the snail Cepaea nemoralis (L.) over 43 years. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 108(3): 473-483.  ( )

HARAN, J. 2013. Revision of the genus Acallopistus Schoenherr (Coleoptera, Curculionidae, Curculioninae, Nerthopini). Zootaxa, 3620(4): 553-568. 

Japoshvili, G., Hansen, L.O. & GUERRIERI, E. 2013. The Norwegian species of Copidosoma Ratzeburg (Hymenoptera: Chalcidoidea: Encyrtidae). Zootaxa, 3619(2): 145-153.  MENDEL, H. & Hatton, J. 2012. Chrysomela tremula Fabricius (Chrysomelidae) rediscovered in Britain. Coleopterist, 21(3): 132-135. 

Niu, Z.-Q., KUHLMANN, M. & Zhu, C.-D. 2013. A review of the Colletes succinctus -group (Hymenoptera: Colletidae) from China with redescription of the male of C. gigas. Zootaxa, 3626(1): 173-187. 

OUVRARD, D. & Soulier-Perkins, A. 2012. Prokelisia marginata (Van Duzee, 1897) lands on the French coast of Normandy (Hemiptera, Fulgoromorpha, Delphacidae). Bulletin de la Societe Entomologique de France, 117(4): 441-444. 

Smith, M.A., Fernandez-Triana, J.L., Eveleigh, E., Gomez, J., Guclu, C., Hallwachs, W., Hebert, P.D.N., Hrcek, J., Huber, J.T., Janzen, D., Mason, P.G., Miller, S., QUICKE, D.L.J., Rodriguez, J.J., Rougerie, R., Shaw, M.R., Varkonyi, G., Ward, D.F., Whitfield, J.B. & Zaldivar-Riveron, A. 2013. DNA barcoding and the taxonomy of Microgastrinae wasps (Hymenoptera, Braconidae): impacts after 8years and nearly 20000 sequences. Molecular Ecology Resources, 13(2): 168-176.  ( )

WILLIAMS, D.J. 2013. Family-group names in the scale insects (Hemiptera: Sternorrhyncha: Coccoidea)-a supplement. Zootaxa, 3616(4): 325-344. 





DOHERTY-BONE, T.M., Gonwouo, N.L., Hirschfeld, M., Ohst, T., Weldon, C., Perkins, M., Kouete, M.T., Browne, R.K., LOADER, S.P., GOWER, D.J., WILKINSON, M.W., Roedel, M.O., Penner, J., Barej, M.F., Schmitz, A., Ploetner, J. & Cunningham, A.A. 2013. Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in amphibians of Cameroon, including first records for caecilians. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, 102(3): 187-+.  ( )

Metallinou, M., ARNOLD, E.N., Crochet, P.-A., Geniez, P., Brito, J.C., Lymberakis, P., El Din, S.B., Sindaco, R., Robinson, M. & Carranza, S. 2012. Conquering the Sahara and Arabian deserts: systematics and biogeography of Stenodactylus geckos (Reptilia: Gekkonidae). BMC Evolutionary Biology, 12.  ( )




Gomez-Pereira, P.R., KENNAWAY, G., Fuchs, B.M., Tarran, G.A. & Zubkov, M.V. 2013. Flow cytometric identification of Mamiellales clade II in the Southern Atlantic Ocean. Fems Microbiology Ecology, 83(3): 664-671.  ( )

Horwell, C.J., WILLIAMSON, B.J., Donaldson, K., LE BLOND, J.S., Damby, D.E. & Bowen, L. 2012. The structure of volcanic cristobalite in relation to its toxicity; relevance for the variable crystalline silica hazard. Particle and Fibre Toxicology, 9.  ( )

Perez-Huerta, A., Etayo-Cadavid, M.F., Andrus, C.F.T., JEFFRIES, T.E., Watkins, C., Street, S.C. & Sandweiss, D.H. 2013. El Nino Impact on Mollusk Biomineralization-Implications for Trace Element Proxy Reconstructions and the Paleo-Archeological Record. PLoS ONE, 8(2).  ( )


Wednesday 17 of April 11:00

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


Studying the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on calcified macroalgae: why, how and what we have we found


Chris Williamson

Genomics & Microbes, Dept of Life Sciences, NHM and School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Cardiff University



Climate change and ocean acidification (OA) are causing increased sea surface temperatures and decreased pH / carbonate saturation, respectively, in the marine environment. Almost all marine species are likely to be impacted in some respect by these changes, with calcifying species predicted to be the most vulnerable. Calcifying macroalgae of the red algal genusCorallina are widely distributed and important autogenic ecosystem engineers, providing habitat for numerous small invertebrate species, shelter from the stresses of intertidal life, and surfaces for the settlement of microphytobenthos. Given the particular skeletal mineralogy of these species, i.e. high Mg-calcite CaCO3, they are predicted to be among the first responders to OA. A research project is therefore being undertaken to examine the potential impacts of climate change and OA on Corallina species in the northeastern Atlantic. An approach has been adopted to allow examination of potential impacts in the context of present day and very recent past conditions. This seminar will present information on the approach employed (use of herbarium collections, seasonal northeastern Atlantic sampling), methodologies used (X-Ray Diffraction, PAM-fluorescence, SEM, molecular techniques), and results gained thus far (seasonal skeletal mineralogy cycles, carbonate chemistry experienced in situ, photophysiology). Plans for the next stage of the project (future scenario incubations) will also be presented, highlighting how lessons learnt thus far will inform this future work.




Friday 19 of April 11:00

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



Forest understorey plant dynamics in the face of global environmental change


Pieter De Frenne

Forest & Nature Lab, Department of Forest and Water Management, Ghent University



Habitat change, eutrophication and climate change, among other global-change factors, have elevated the rate of species’ extinction to a level on par with historical mass extinction events. In temperate forests specifically, biodiversity is mainly a function of the herbaceous understorey community. Many forest understorey plants, however, are not able to track habitat change and the shifting climate due to their limited colonisation capacity. Their acclimation potential within their occupied habitats will likely determine their short- and long-term persistence. The response of plants to N deposition, however, diverges between forests and other ecosystems, probably due to the greater structural complexity and pivotal role of light availability in forests. A potential new pressure on forest biodiversity is the increasing demand for woody biomass due to the transitions to more biobased economies. Elevated wood extraction could result in increased canopy opening and understorey species shifts. To date, the outcome of climate warming and changing forest management (resulting in altered light availability) in forests experiencing decades of elevated N inputs remains uncertain. I will present our research on the (interactive) effects of climate warming, enhanced N inputs, and management-driven forest floor light availability on the growth and reproduction of a selection of understorey forest plant species, and (ii) the composition and diversity of understorey plant communities in European and eastern North American temperate forests.




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Department of Life Sciences Seminar


A new genus of rodent from Wallacea (Rodentia: Muridae: Murinae: Rattini) and its implication for biogeography and Indo-Pacific Rattini systematics


Pierre-Henri Fabre

Synthesys visitor, University of Montpellier


Friday 12th April 11:00
Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)

We describe Halmaheramys bokimekot Fabre et al. a new genus and new species of murine rodent from the North Moluccas and study its phylogenetic placement using both molecular and morphological data. We generated a taxonomically densely sampled mitochondrial and nuclear DNA data set that included almost all genera of Indo-Pacific Murinae. We then used probabilistic methodologies to infer their phylogenetic relationships. To reconstruct their biogeographical history, we first dated the topology and then used a LAGRANGE analysis to infer ancestral geographic areas. Finally, we combined the ancestral area reconstructions with temporal information to compare patterns of murine colonization among Indo-Pacific archipelagos. We provide a new comprehensive molecular phylogenetic reconstruction for the Indo-Pacific Murinae with a focus on the Rattus division. Based on previous results and those presented in this study, we define a new Indo-Pacific group within the Rattus division: comprised of Bullimus, Bunomys, Paruromys, Halmaheramys, Sundamys, and Taeromys. Our phylogenetic reconstruction reveals a relatively recent diversification from the Middle-Miocene to Plio-Pleistocene associated with several major dispersal events. We identified two independent Indo-Pacific origins from both Western and Eastern Indo-Pacific archipelagoes to the isolated Halmahera island that led to the speciations of Halmaheramys bokimekot and Rattus morotaiensis. We propose that Middle Miocene collision between the Halmahera and Sangihe arcs may have been responsible for the arrival from the Eastern Wallacea of the Halmaheramys ancestors. Halmaheramys bokimekot Fabre et al. sp. nov., is described in detail and its systematics and biogeography documented and illustrated.




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Protists, other small organisms, and Next Generation Sequencing: A forum for ideas, news, information, and exchange


10-12 April 2013, Flett Theatre, Natural History Museum


Joint meeting between the British Society for Protist Biology and the Linnean Society


This meeting will be an exciting forum for exchange of knowledge, experiences, and learning about new experimental and analytical methods associated with NGS, from data generation to analysis.




Weds 10 April


1500                         Registration & poster hanging


1700                        Keynote Lecture: Chris Quince

                        The challenges and opportunities of microbial metagenomics



Thurs 11 April


0900                        Sequencing – a field guide

                        Konrad Paskiewicz & Karen Moore


1100                        Coffee


1130                        Macroecological patterns and processes in the benthic marine microbial biosphere

                        Si Creer


1215                        Placing short environmental next generation sequencing amplicons from microbial eukaryotes into a phylogenetic context

                        Micah Dunthorn


1300                        Lunch & poster session


1410                        Can amoebae ‘see’ red?

                        Jackie Parry


1435                        The curiosity of histidine phosphatases in trypanosomatid parasites

                        Amber Lynch


1500                        Desmodesmus: a model organism for investigating the origin of multicellularity

                        Elliot Shubert


1525                        Genotypic diversity of endosymbiotic algae originating from Paramecium bursaria and Euplotes daidaleos

                        Undine Achilles-Day


1550                        Tea


1620                        Revealing hidden plankton diversity in the Orkney Islands, UK; 18S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing using an Ion torrent PGM

                        Joe Taylor


1645                        Isolating genomic DNA from Lagenophrys tattersalli (Ciliophora: Peritrichia) and new insights into lagenophryid biology

                        Robert Mansergh


1710                        AGM - all welcome




Fri 12 April


0900                        The use of QIIME (Quantitative Insights Into Microbial Ecology) in  microbial community ecology – a case study

                         Serena Thomson


0945                        High performance computing infrastructure developed for phylogenomic analyses           

                        Kamran Shalchian-Tabrizi           


1030                        Transparent clustering method for cryptic molecular species of protists

                        Frédéric Mahé


1100                       Coffee


1130                        Ocean Sampling Day (OSD)

                        Dawn Field


1215                        Comparative and functional genomics in Entamoeba parasites

                        Neil Hall


1300                        Lunch & poster session


1410                        Flow cytometric identification of Mamiellales clade II in the Southern Atlantic Ocean

                        Mike Zubkov


1435                        Targeting essential amino acid biosynthesis pathways within Acanthamoeba spp.

                        Chris Rice


1500                        Eukaryotic fauna on the sand filters of water treatment plants: Artificial lake bottoms dominated by protozoa

                        Christoffer Bugge Harder


1525                        A six-gene phylogeny provides new insights into choanoflagellate evolution

                        Martin Carr


1550                        Tea & end of meeting



For additional details on attending see





Thursday 11th April




4.00 pm

One way of forest plants to make their living in deep shade: eating mycorrhizal fungi.

Mark Andre Selosse, Muséum national d’Histoire Naturelle,Paris, & Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive Montpellier  


The evolution of land plants provided repeated emergences of mycoheterotrophy, where achlorophyllous plants exploit carbon from their mycorrhizal fungi. I will briefly review the current knowledge on mycoheterotrophs, mainly orchids and Montropoideae (Ericaceae), and their specific basidiomycetous fungal partners, that also form ectomycorrhizae with surrounding trees. By contrast, subtropical and tropical species often connect to arbuscular-mycorrhizal fungi, or even to saprotrophic basidiomycetes. I will then focus on the evolution from the ‘usual’ mycorrhizal functioning (where autotrophic plants furnish carbon to fungi) to mycoheterotrophy. Intermediate evolutionarily steps were discovered, i.e. green, photosynthetic plants that partly use carbon from their mycorrhizal fungi. This mixotrophic nutrition pre-disposed to evolution of mycoheterotrophy. In some mixotrophic, green orchids, the rare survival of achlorophyllous plants (albinos) further supports the use of fungal carbon. Our investigations of albinos‘ nutrition and fitness nevertheless clarify why emergence of mycoheterotrophy is rare in evolution of mixotrophs, and thus why mixotrophy can be evolutionarily metastable.




4.30 pm

Evolutionary history of mycorrhizas

Christine Strullu-Derrien, Dept. of Earth Sciences, NHM


Nowadays fungi form widespread mutualistic associations with over 90% of plant species. Of the two predominant types, the most common and widespread are the arbuscular mycorrhizas (AM), which are endomycorrhizas in which hyphae form distinctive branched structures (arbuscules) in cells. In contrast, in ectomycorrhizas  (ECM) the fungus ensheaths the outer surface of roots and forms a net-like reticulum between the cells of the root epidermis and the cells of the cortex. The link between plants and their fungal associates is known to go back to the dawn of life on land, and endomycorrhizas are among the first documented in the Early Devonian. The earliest well-documented fossils with diagnostic evidence for ECM symbioses are reported from the Eocene. I will present an overview of the current knowledge on fossil mycorrhizas including our recent findings from the investigation of the NHM slide collections.




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The roles of paleoclimates, mineralogy and geochemistry in forming anomalies on interfaces in areas of basin cover: implications for exploration



Ravi Anand

CSIRO Earth Science and Resource Engineering, Western Australia


Wednesday 10th April - 12.00

Mineralogy Seminar Room 



Transported cover provides significant challenges to geochemical exploration as dispersion of indicator elements to the surface is restricted. Conventional approaches (e.g. soil and lag sampling) may not be viable in many areas of transported cover and various selective extraction methods have had only limited success in deeply weathered and arid terrains than in terrains with recent glacial or volcanic cover. An alternative approach to the direct detection of element dispersion from mineralisation through transported regolith is the identification of the more general effects of oxidising sulphide mineralisation on regolith mineralogy and pH. Approaches to detect these features have been developed, but their application has met with limited success.

In Australia, exploration is progressively moving to areas of deep transported cover (>30 m). Given the cost of deep drilling, high density sampling of weathered basement beneath the unconformity is no longer cost effective and so new exploration approaches are needed. A variety of transported cover sediments, ranging from Quaternary to Permian, are common in Australian landscapes. These have been subjected to weathering under a variety of climates. The Quaternary climate differed from Tertiary and Cretaceous climates, resulting in distinct styles of weathering and mineralogical features. This presentation provides a  synthesis on the  importance of an integrated approach combining different metal migration mechanisms with the nature of transported regolith, landscape history and climate settings to obtain the best prediction of anomaly formation and guide exploration strategies. 

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Department of Life Sciences Seminar



What a difference a decade makes – Recapping the last 10 years of bryozoan phylogenetics and future prospects


Andrea Waeschenbach

Parasites and Vectors, Dept.of Life Sciences, NHM


Wednesday 10 of April 11:00
Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)

Since the first bryozoan molecular phylogenetic study just over decade ago, the field has come a long way, battling the enemies of sequence contamination, long-branch attraction, and misidentification. In this talk I will recount how some of these obstacles have been overcome, recap key results that were gathered along the way, and outline some future research lines of molecular bryozoology in the era of next-generation sequencing (NGS). Bryozoan colonies provide microhabitats for many other organisms including bacteria, fungi, diatoms, ciliates, nematodes, copepods, ostracods, sponges, molluscs, entoprocts and turbellarian flatworms, providing ample opportunities for co-extraction and co-amplification during PCR, resulting in frequently contaminated datasets. This has been having important implications for bryozoan interrelationships and metazoan-wide phylogenetic inferences, which will be discussed. The comparatively fast rate of molecular evolution of bryozoans often results in them forming clades with other long-branching taxa, such as chaetognaths and platyhelminths. By using a model of sequence evolution that accounts for heterogeneity in amino acid composition across sites and across lineages, our results provide an alternative hypothesis, placing phoronids as the sister group to bryozoans, contradicting recent hypotheses of Bryozoa sensu lato, i.e. (Ectoprocta, Entoprocta), and Polyzoa (Ectoprocta (Cycliophora, Entoprocta)). Phylogenetic reconstructions have revealed numerous examples of morphological convergence and plasticity, as well as cryptic species, in all three bryozoans classes, highlighting the importance of using molecular data in assessing species interrelationships and species boundaries, and thus in providing a true estimate of diversity at multiple taxonomic hierarchies. Future work is planned to utilize these instances of convergence to study their effect on species diversification rates, by interpreting a densely sampled phylogenetic framework, constructed using NGS technology, in light of the well-preserved fossil record of bryozoans. Furthermore, using RNA-seq, future work is projected to provide insights into the underlying gene-expression processes involved in the generation of different zooid types produced by a single colony genotype, thus taking the first step in developing bryozoans as a model to study the underlying molecular processes of morphological and functional disparity.





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