Thursday, 9 August 2018

Wallace Coffee Talks - 16 August 2018

Wallace Coffee Talks - Summer 2018

16 August - 1pm - Zoology Museum

José V. Roces-Díaz (Swansea University, UK)

Native or introduced by humans? Using species distribution modelling to analyze Sweet chestnut dynamics in Western Europe

My main research topics are a mixture of landscape and forest ecology, and I find interesting to analyze how the forests and their ecosystem services area distributed, and how we can use this information on landscape planning and natural resources management. In this sense, Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa: one of the most relevant forests trees of my home country region Asturias, NW Spain) is often classified as a “non-native species” and its origin discussed between scientific community, foresters, etc. For this reasons, we use a “species distribution modelling” approach to analyze its suitable areas in Europe since the Last Glacial Maximum until today. We have tried to confirm (or reject) if, as some authors found (based on pollen and genetic data), this tree had (glacial) refugia in Western Europe and can be classified a native species in this area.

Jessica Minett (Swansea University, UK)

Brown trout in the Falkland Islands: ecology, population structure and genetic diversity.

Brown trout (Salmo trutta) were introduced to the Falkland Islands on several occasions during the 1940-50’s, mainly for recreational fishing. Since, there has been a marked decline in the native freshwater fish fauna, which consists of only three species of galaxiid fishes, endemic to the Southern Hemisphere (zebra trout Aplochiton zebra, Aplochiton taeniatus, and the Falklands minnow Galaxias maculatus). Given the threats to the long-term conservation of the native galaxiids, detailed knowledge about the life history, movement ecology of brown trout and their overlap and interactions with the native species is urgently needed.

Monday, 30 July 2018

Wallace Coffee Talks - 02 August 2018

Wallace Coffee Talks - Summer 2018

02 August 2018 - 1pm - Zoology Museum

Frances Ratcliffe (Swansea University, UK)
Between art and science - personal meander

Why the big jump? This is the question on the tip of everyone’s tongue when I describe the meandering route I took from studying Fine Art to doing a PhD in Fish Biology. Through presenting examples of my work as well as work of those that have inspired me, I will try to answer this question, describing my journey from conceptual art, via scientific illustration, to finally pursuing science. I hope to explain how, these two seemingly unrelated disciplines have much to offer each other and have a lot more in common than one might think. Finally, I will invite you to discuss how data visualizers can take inspiration from scientific illustrators, opening up new avenues for communication. 

Alejandra Cabanillas (Swansea University, UK)
Small world network and the Prisoner's dilemma: how does cooperation survive?
Cooperation is observed across multiple species and a range of life histories, from slime molds to apes, hence the interest in a general explanation for the emergence and persistence of this behaviour within social groups. Evolutionary game theory, using models like the Prisoner’s dilemma, has been employed to investigate these questions. The distribution of links among interacting players in games like the Prisoner’s dilemma provides an interesting avenue to study how social populations evolve under different interaction networks. Small world network (SWN) connectivity allows regular (e.g., nearest neighbour) networks to gradually be altered to completely random interaction networks. We studied how SWNs affected the invasion of cheaters into a spatially structured population of cooperators, varying the relative pay-offs for cheaters and the proportion of randomised links among players in an otherwise regular interaction network. We recorded the time a defector takes to invade the population, the final stable proportion of each strategy (cooperator or cheater) and the variability in this proportion across different network structures. SWNs facilitate the invasion of defectors at lower pay-off levels than regular networks, by preventing the formation of blocks of cheaters and the reduced payoffs associated with those interaction blocks. In this scenario, the lower scoring cooperators are at an evolutionary disadvantage, as cooperation clusters can’t easily be formed to resist invasion. For a specific range of payoffs, the speed of invasion is significantly facilitated by the proportion of randomised links present. SWN links therefore influence the speed and stable state of evolutionary dynamics.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Wallace Coffee Talks - 26 July 2018

Wallace Coffee Talks - Summer 2018

26 July 2018 - 1pm - Zoology Museum

Tamsyn Uren Webster (Swansea University, UK)
Exploring the fish microbiome: links with stress and disease in aquaculture

There is growing recognition that microbial communities associated with the gut and other mucosal surfaces have a critical influence on host health. The microbiome enhances immunity, pathogen defence, digestion, nutrient acquisition and metabolism, but is also sensitive to disruption by environmental stressors which may adversely affect host health and disease susceptibility. I will talk about our recent research examining how conditions experienced in aquaculture influence the fish microbiome. This includes a fundamental difference in the microbiome of wild and hatchery-reared Atlantic salmon fry, reflecting environmental and genetic diversity. We found that while the gut microbiome is strongly influenced by diet, prior environmental conditions have a lasting influence on microbiome structure. I will also talk about the effects of aquaculture-related stress on the fish microbiome. This includes how faecal cortisol levels are associated with abundance of beneficial Lactobacillus in the gut and how early life stress causes persistent effects on the microbiome including abundance of opportunistic pathogens. 

Peter Jones (SwanseaUniversity, UK)
Physiological, morphological and behavioural determinants of fish passage success

Artificial barriers such as dams and weirs are causing severe impacts on river ecosystems worldwide, reducing connectivity, causing habitat fragmentation, and reducing gene flow. A key mitigation strategy is the construction of fish passes to ease migration past barriers, but these often perform poorly. My research seeks to shed light on potential factors contributing to fish pass inefficiencies. I will discuss experiments currently being undertaken in CSAR looking at interspecific and intraspecific variation in passage of an experimental fish pass setup. I will also discuss experiments to identify potential influences on passage success, including swimming metabolism, behavioural traits, and morphological variation. Some preliminary results will be presented, as well as some of the potential implications of the work.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Biosciences Science Club Series 10 July 2018

Biosciences Science Club Series - Summer 2018
10 July 2018 - 1pm - Zoology Museum

The stress response in fish revisited

Michail A. Pavlidis

We are delighted to welcome Prof Michail A. Pavlidis, from University of Crete (Greece). Michail is broadly interested in the physiology of marine organisms. Specifically, his lab investigates three research topics - Stress and Wellfare of farmed fish (this will form the subject of his talk), Pigmentation Physiology (especially how to use dispigmentation as an index of welfare of farmed fish), and Reproductive Physiology (hormonal and environmental control of reproduction, temperature-dependent sex determination, and molecular and endocrine mechanisms regulating early ontogeny).

From homeostasis and the classical stress response concept, to appraisal, coping and the allostasis paradigm in animal stress and welfare research. Inter- and intra-specific differences in the cortisol stress response of marine aquaculture fish species. Family-based and individual differences in European sea bass, Dicentrarchus labrax. Why some individuals have constantly high or low  basal or post-stress plasma cortisol concentrations? To what extent are differences in coping styles associated with production traits? When fish are capable of responding to external stress stimuli during early ontogeny? Is there any effect of early life stress to the performance and stress response at subsequent stages of development? Fishing for answers from our research on Mediterranean commercially important fish species and.., with a little help from zebrafish.

Hope to see many of you - everyone most welcome to attend!

For the list of forthcoming seminars see here

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Biosciences Science Club Series 03 July 2018

Biosciences Science Club Series - Summer 2018
03 July 2018 - 1pm - Zoology Museum

Are seaweeds greener on the other side? The perspective of a coastal ecologist, now seaweed farmer, on seaweed aquaculture in Norway

Dr Lise Chapman

We are delighted to welcome Dr Lise Chapman, from Tango Seaweed (Leinøy, Norway). Lise is a marine scientist who recently left science for the benefit of becoming a seaweed farmer on the Norwegian west coast. Her research focussed on coastal marine ecology, water quality research, marine environmental sustainability, and on finding novel ways of using ocean resources. With the aim to apply her research experience in practice, Lise founded 'TANGO Seaweed', a company dedicated to seaweed cultivation and associated competence development. The aims are to promote seaweeds as biological resources with great potential in food, feed and multiple other applications, and contribute to the development and diversification of a new economic sector in Europe. Similarly, Lise aims to use creative means and education to bridge the gap between seaweeds as useful raw material on the one hand and as the beautiful and astounding creatures they represent on the other.

Seaweed farming is an emerging industry in western Europe and North America. Especially in Norway, recent years have seen a multitude of new license applications for coastal seaweed aquaculture and associated developments of an entire new product value chain. While the potential for value creation is enormous and expectations for its success high, our knowledge on all elements of seaweed cultivation as a profitable business is rudimentary. Cultivation technology, infrastructure, effective processes for seeding, harvesting and stabilisation, as well as products and markets need to be developed. While seaweed aquaculture is a prime candidate for a sustainable ocean harvest, we know near to nothing about environmental interactions and potential effects on coastal ecosystems, especially in the context of upscaling to larger cultivation areas and high production volumes. Lise Chapman will share her first experiences from her company ‘TANGO Seaweed’, as well as her perspective on the growing seaweed industry in Norway.

Hope to see many of you - everyone most welcome to attend!

For the list of forthcoming seminars see here

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Wallace Coffee Talks - 21 June 2018

Wallace Coffee Talks - Spring 2018
21 June 2018 - 1pm - Zoology Museum


David Gilljam (SwanseaUniversity, UK)

The colour of environmental fluctuations driving terrestrial animal population dynamics

I'm an ecologist with a background in computer engineering whose research focus lies on the effects of environmental variation and within and between species interactions on the dynamics, stability and functioning of ecological networks. As a NERC-funded postdoc here at Swansea University, one of my lines of research investigates the drivers of fluctuations and cycles in animal population dynamics. Fluctuations can be generated by many types of biotic factors, such as density-dependence, age-structure and predator-prey interactions. Abiotic factors, like the temporal structure (colour) of environmental variables such as temperature and precipitation are also considered to influence population dynamics. In this talk I will however propose that for short time-spans typical for ecological time-series, the colour of the environment is not as important as a driver of animal population fluctuations as previously thought. These findings will, in turn, improve our ability to incorporate appropriate environmental processes into predictive modelling frameworks of ecological dynamics.


Stream fragmentation in Great Britain: what, where and why?

The potential impact of river fragmentation caused by in-channel obstacles on river ecosystems is enormous and includes alteration of hydro-geomorphological processes, temperature regimes and sediment loading, that affect river connectivity. Owing to these impacts, EU member states are bound by the Water Framework Directive to maintain river continuity as a crucial component to achieving “good ecological status”. Despite this and plenty of other concern, the extent of river fragmentation in Great Britain is unknown. In this talk I will briefly describe how I got here and what I’ve been working on to address current knowledge gaps in river fragmentation in Great Britain.