Monday 23 February 2015

Biosciences Seminar Speaker - 26/02/2015

Biosciences Seminar Series - Winter 2015
26 February 2015 - 1pm - Zoology Museum (Wallace 129)

Climate change impacts in marine ecosystems: a global meta-analysis

Dr Pippa Moore


What effects do humans have, or will have, on marine biodiversity and marine ecology? Can we mitigate the negative impacts, for example of climate change, by using novel material design and marine engineering? Answering these questions is one of the main aims of the research group of our next seminar speaker, Dr Pippa Moore. Pippa is a marine community ecologist and reader in marine ecology at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University, interested especially in the ecology of rocky reefs and seagrass meadows.

Studies across taxa, habitats and biogeographic provinces have demonstrated that marine systems are already responding to increases in sea surface temperature (SST). In this talk I will focus on the outcomes from a 4-year project that collated and analysed environmental and biological data at a global
scale to determine how sea-surface and air temperatures have changed in both space and time, how marine biological systems have responded to these changes and how this compares with changes observed on land. Finally I will discuss how novel metrics of climate change, such as the velocity of climate change, can potentially provide insights for marine spatial management planning and climate adaptation.

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

Tuesday 17 February 2015

Science Club Series - 19/02/2015

Biosciences Science Club Series - Lent term 2015
19 February 2015 - 1pm - Zoology Museum (Wallace 129)

Biological oceanographic processes in the Ross Sea, Antarctica: Paradigms lost?

Prof. Walker O. Smith, Jr.

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Our Science Club Series continues with a seminar by Prof. Walker Smith Jr. - a marine scientist interested in understanding what controls phytoplankton growth in the ocean, e.g. the role of iron, and how this affects the carbon pool and carbon fluxes. Furthermore, Walker uses new technology, such as gliders, to understand oceanographic processes, for example the linkages between the spatiotemporal dynamics of phytoplankton blooms, macrozooplankton  and fish distributions, and penguin foraging hotspots.

The Ross Sea is one of the most important regions in the Southern Ocean, contributing significantly to the biogeochemical cycles and supporting a diverse and abundant food web, characterized by the world’s largest Adélie and Emperor Penguin colonies and supporting massive numbers of baleen whales, pelagic birds and seals.  

Photo by A. Shields
Its phytoplankton and primary productivity have been characterized as having a unimodal peak in late December dominated by the haptophyte Phaeocystis antarctica, after which the haptophyte biomass disappears and is replaced by diatoms. 

Irradiance limits growth in spring, but iron limitation is common in summer.  Vertical flux is substantial, and largely driven by aggregate formation.  Characteristics of these “paradigms” are described.  

image from:
Recent data using new and novel technologies have forced us to re-evaluate some basic features of these concepts.  Specifically, the importance of episodic events may be important in both vertical flux and phytoplankton growth. Furthermore, while iron is reduced to low (and apparently limiting) concentrations, phytoplankton growth continues for substantial time periods after Fe becomes reduced.   The role of zooplankton vertical flux can also be important during restricted times.  

The results of numerical models predicting future (+50 and +100 years) conditions suggest that drastic oceanographic and food web modifications will occur, with relatively unpredictable effects for higher trophic levels and biogeochemical cycles.  

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

Tuesday 10 February 2015

Biosciences Seminar Speaker - 12 February 2015

Biosciences Seminar Series - Winter 2015
12 February 2015 - 1pm - Zoology Museum (Wallace 129)

Biodiversity and ecosystem services: science-policy advances

Prof. Georgina Mace

It is becoming increasingly clear that the well-being of human populations crucially relies on ecological processes and, in general, on biodiversity. Developing a better understanding and quantification of these so-called 'ecosystem services' provided by biodiversity is one of the research interests of our next speaker, Prof Georgina Mace. Georgina is Professor of Biodiversity and Ecosystems at the Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research at University College London, and has markedly contributed to the development of conservation science through her contributions to research as well as policy development. Examples are the biodiversity sections of the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment, the development of new IUCN Red List criteria based on actual data, not expert opinions, or her contributions to population viability assessments of natural and captive populations of conservation concern.

Ecosystems are complexes where biotic and abiotic components come together at a range of spatial and temporal scales. They have become a central focus for both scientific understanding and management of the wide range of benefits that people derive from nature, with significant policy and economic interest. 

In the past, nature was regarded as important in its own right; its benefits were abundant and mostly available to people at no cost. However, rapidly rising demands for natural resources and pressures caused by environmental change are leading to new approaches in society and the environment to secure benefits for the future. 

Based on recent policy initiatives in the UK and internationally I will present new, interdisciplinary science that brings together ecology, environmental change and environmental economics, and suggest new ways of considering the links between people and the environment.

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

modified from Mace et al. (2012) TREE

Tuesday 3 February 2015

BioMaths Colloquia - 06/02/2015

BioMaths Colloquium Series - 2014/15

06 February 2015 - 3pm

Maths Seminar Room (room 224 Talbot Building 2nd floor)

Stochastic models in community ecology

Dr. Stephen Cornell

from: Rosinder & Cornell 2009

After the Christmas Break, our BioMaths Colloquium series resumes with a talk by Dr Stephen Cornell from the Institute of Integrative Biology at the University of Liverpool. Stephen is a mathematical ecologist with a keen interest in understanding the mechanisms driving the dynamics of ecological communities and spatial variation in biodiversity.


One of the most fundamental questions in biology is: how do so many species manage to coexist, given that the interactions between them are usually antagonistic? Mathematical models play a key role in answering this question, and are of timely importance for predicting how ecological systems will react to global change. I shall discuss stochastic models of community assembly based on demographic processes (births, deaths, dispersal), which can be tested against a variety of ecological patterns including species abundance distributions and species-area relationships. 

Simple “Neutral” models (that assume ecological interactions to be independent of species identity) can successfully predict some of these patterns, but require unrealistic assumptions about the underlying biological processes. I shall discuss how to incorporate more realistic mechanisms - such as spatial structure, protracted speciation, and non-neutral interactions - without sacrificing mathematical tractability.

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