Wednesday 3 December 2014

Biosciences Seminar Speaker - 04 December 2014

Biosciences Seminar Series - Autumn 2014
04 December 2014 - 1pm - Zoology Museum (Wallace 129)

The energy in the air: 

How aerial currents affect movement paths, costs and interactions in soaring birds

Dr. Emily Shepard

Photo: Markus Unsöld / Waldrappteam
Certainly our Swansea Biosciences Department is known worldwide for being one of the leading developers of bio-logging equipment to record animal movements and behaviour, thanks to the Swansea Lab for Animal Movement (SLAM) and our speaker of today, Dr Emily Shepard, is one of the key researchers of the SLAM group for everything that concerns animal flight, especially of birds. Emily's research is however wideranging and includes even participation in technology developments initiatives such as Byte Snap Design UK. If you want to find her, when not in her office you need to travel to the Andes in Argentina, where Emily 'flies' after condors, or you can find her around Swansea Bay catching up with gulls.

Understanding how species respond to the physical characteristics of their environments remains a key theme in ecology. But air has arrived late to this particular party. Only recently has it been suggested that the aerial environment should be recognised as 'habitat' at all, and quantifying or visualising the movements of the air remains challenging.

Nonetheless, the dynamic nature of the air has important consequences for animals moving through it. I will discuss how air currents affect flight costs, and the strategies that some birds use to compensate for or benefit from this variability. In particular I will focus on two groups of birds with questionable morals when it comes to feeding: vultures and gulls.

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


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