Friday, 30 August 2019

Wallace Coffee Talks - 3 September 2019

Wallace Coffee Talks - Summer 2019 
3 September - 1pm - Zoology Museum

Welfare benefits of physical activity and microalgal feed supplementation in Zebrafish (Danio rerio)
Using exercise & diet interventions to ID whether we can advance aquaculture farming procedures sustainably whilst keeping animal welfare the main priority.

Paul Deacon (Swansea University, UK)

To Leap or not to Leap: A minnow story.
Investigation into the effects of river fragmentation, on the non-migratory species European minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus). How does group size and time of day effect movements over barriers?

Ben Nichols (Swansea University, UK)
Comparative study on the effect of algae biostimulants on chilli peppers (Capsicum Annum)
Algae shows promise to become a renewable and non toxic material to stimulate plant growth.  Master student Ben Nichols will discuss how different algae strains affected the growth of cayenne chili peppers

Gina Lewis (Swansea University, UK)
My year in industry: an insight into the use of molecular genetic techniques to study animal behaviour
Having completed the first month of my ‘Year in Industry’, assisting Dr Hazel Nichols with her research into sociality in the banded mongoose, I’d like to share a bit about my experience so far and the research that I am getting involved with.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Wallace Coffee Talks - 20 August 2019

Wallace Coffee Talks - Summer 2019 
20 August - 12pm - Zoology Museum

Ground reaction force patterns in human vertical jumping
What can be learned from human movement that may be applicable to the study of animal movement patterns? I would like to share some of the new techniques that are being developed in the field of human biomechanics that may be applicable to the study of animal movement patterns. Sports biomechanics focuses on maximising human performance. In professional team sports, such as football and rugby, players’ fitness and training development are monitored on a regular basis. One of the most important tests is the standing vertical jump, a countermovement jump, since jump height and peak power output are so well correlated with other athletic tests, such as sprints. The ground reaction force provides an excellent recording of how the jump is executed. Traditionally, scientists have focused on discrete points on the curve but recently interest has turned to the patterns and shape of the curve itself. Using functional principal component analysis and regression models I will show the critical importance for performance of a final peak in the ground reaction force immediately before take-off and how arm swing helps enhance it. I will share how understanding these patterns is the basis for my next step in research that will analysis patterns from accelerometer signals to re-create the ground reaction forces. This has the potential for accelerometers to replace expense force platforms for field-based testing.

The multiple dimensions of biodiversity – human interest relationships
Activities involving observation of wild organisms (e.g. wildlife watching, tidepooling) can provide recreational and learning opportunities, with biologically diverse animal assemblages expected to be more stimulating to humans. Here we explore whether having more animals in an ecosystem that we can view really does drive more human interest, and if so what is it about more diverse communities that we find so interesting?

Friday, 9 August 2019

Wallace Coffee Talks - 13 August 2019

Wallace Coffee Talks - Summer 2019 
13 August - 1pm - Zoology Museum

Effects of recent social context on cortisol responses in three-spined stickleback fish (Gasterosteus aculeatus)
Interactions with other individuals occur frequently within groups of animals and can influence individuals’ hormonal responses. When exposed to new, potentially stressful environments, an individual’s stress response can be activated; and interactions with conspecifics give us the opportunity to explore the potential bidirectional influence of both partners’ physiological stress response (i.e. ‘coregulation’). Current research into cortisol coregulation, however, usually involves familiar (or even closely related) individuals and it remains unknown whether familiarity is required for coregulation to occur. In this talk I will discuss how the recent social context (house solitarily and tested with unfamiliar partner; housed socially and tested with either a familiar or unfamiliar partner) affected changes in waterborne cortisol concentrations in response to a novel (potentially stressful) environment in three-spined stickleback fish (Gasterosteus aculeatus) dyads.

Mixotrophy: Why we need a change of perspective on marine plankton
For over a century marine plankton and the food web therein have been largely viewed as a clean dichotomy between autotrophs and heterotrophs. A view that is mostly inspired by the food webs that we find on land and are divided between plants and animals. In terrestrial ecosystems, mixotrophs that can be both phototroph and heterotroph like the venus fly trap seem to be rare curiosities, which are at most mentioned as a side note and usually don’t find their way in to food web models. But is this also true for marine ecosystems and if not, what are the implications?

Monday, 29 July 2019

Wallace Coffee Talks - 30 July 2019

Wallace Coffee Talks - Summer 2019 
30 July - 1pm - Zoology Museum

#DamOrNot: bridging science and current affairs through an educational Twitter game
Dr Stephanie Januchowski-Hartley will discuss her twitter game, #DamOrNot, as a method of science communication with a general audience. 

Monday, 22 July 2019

Wallace Coffee Talks - 23 July 2019

Wallace Coffee Talks - Summer 2019 
23 July - 12pm - Zoology Museum

Does personality influence lumpfish interaction with salmon?
Lumpfish are used as cleaner-fish to control parasitic sea-lice in salmon farms. Although reports indicate the majority of lumpfish do not readily consume lice, some individuals exhibit high levels of cleaning behaviour. Assessing potential factors that influence individual variation in cleaning is important to improve farm efficiency and animal welfare standards. This talk investigates whether lumpfish personality effects the nature and extent of interactions with salmon.

Mice and deer and wild dogs, oh my! Technology shines a light on animal behaviour
Technological advances allow greater insights into animal behaviour than were previously possible. Modern biologgers featuring tri-axial accelerometers and magnetometers offer powerful insights into the fine-scale movement and behaviour of species, while passive RFID tags allow tracking of animals too small to carry GPS or biologging sensors. In this talk I will explore some of the insights that can be gained from these advances; namely determining mouse social interactions, quantifying fallow deer fawn activity patterns and using captive African wild dogs to develop behaviour classification rules for wild canids.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Wallace Coffee Talks - 18 June 2019

Wallace Coffee Talks - Spring 2019 
18 June - 1pm - Zoology Museum

Ashleigh Harper (Swansea University, UK)
Wildfires: Relearning to live with them, a British perspective
Wildfire is an integral part of the Earth system and has been for over 350 million years. It is a natural process and vital to many of the world’s ecosystems for rejuvenating vegetation, initiating seed dispersal and germination, clearing ground debris and maintaining biodiversity. As a result of climate change and human activities wildfires have been introduced to historically non-fire-adapted ecosystems causing the ‘wildfire problem’ we are currently experiencing. What does this mean for Britain and how can we relearn to live with fire?

Baptiste Garde (Swansea University, UK)
How do landscape and weather affect flight costs?
Flight is one of the most energetically costly of bird activities, and the extent to which birds modulate their decisions to minimise their energy expenditure in flight remains an active area of research. The goal of my PhD is to understand how flight costs are affected by the environment, especially the interaction between weather and landscape, and how birds respond to these effects. Behavioural responses may range from birds selecting flight paths that do not vary with flow conditions (instead reflecting a response to other factors), to birds modulating their flight trajectories, speed and flight mode (flapping versus soaring) in order to reduce costs. 
During my first year, I worked on finding a method to quantify energy expenditure in free flight with the help of accelerometery. I am now trying to understand the parameters that influence speed selection and the extent to which this behaviour relates to energy saving. This has been tested widely for flying animals, because the “power curve” leads to specific predictions about the flight speeds that animals should adopt in different scenarios. Nonetheless, this model is designed for level flight and does not explain the high variability in flight speeds often observed in powered flight. I equipped homing pigeons (Columba livia) with 1 Hz GPSs to examine the extent to which flapping birds vary their flight speed in relation to their climb rate and the influence of environmental factors on their flight altitude.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Biomath Colloquium 14/06/2019

BioMaths Colloquium Series - 2018/19

14 June 2019 - 3pm Zoology Museum

(Department of Biosciences, Singleton Park)

Shape effects on microscale swimmers

Prof Stuart Humphries

(School of Life SciencesUniversity of Lincoln)

Our BioMaths Colloquium Series continues for the spring term with a seminar by Prof Stuart Humphries, from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln.  Stuart is Professor of Evolutionary Biophysics and the founding director of the Lincoln Institute for Advanced Studies (LIAS) and his resarch focusses on comparative biomechanics, biophysics and biological fluid dynamics,

Microbes in general, and bacteria in particular, exhibit great diversity in their shapes. However, while morphology is routinely linked to performance in multicellular organisms, there are almost no similar studies in bacteria. Our lab has been exploring the functional aspects of bacterial shape and I will highlight some recent studies using microfluidic experiments,  numerical modelling, and comparative phylogenetic methods to explore the links between cell shape and motility. I will show that lengthening of individual cells has profound influences on both a range of motility parameters and swimming-driven chemotactic behaviours that have implications for the ecology of these organisms. Our numerical models of bacterial cell shape show that a wide range of motile species are Pareto optimal due a trade-off between construction cost, swimming efficiency, and chemotactic ability. I will also provide insight into the evolution of prokaryote morphology and reconstruction of the phenotype of the Last Universal Common Ancestor.

The discussions will continue over tea and coffee after the seminar. 
Hope to see many of you!

For the list of forthcoming seminars, see here