Thursday 18 June 2015

Biosciences Seminar Speaker 18 June 2015

Biosciences Seminar Series - Spring 2015
18 June 2015 - 1pm - Zoology Museum (Wallace 129)

Unravelling the secrets of the world's highest flying goose

Dr. Lucy Hawkes

It's the final talk of this year's Swansea Biosciences Seminar Series! To end in style, we will have a high-flying talk by Dr Lucy Hawkes, lecturer in Physiological Ecology at the Department of Biosciences at the University of Exeter. To understand how animals achieve to do those amazing performances, such as flying over the Himalayas, Lucy uses a large range of fancy technology, from satellite telemetry, heart rate logging, accelerometry, to metabolic rate measurements and respirometry. So, don't miss this one!

Birds have been shown to make some of the longest, fastest and most impressive migrations of any, principally because flight permits migrants to cover huge distances in relatively short periods of time. Different species of birds may travel over demanding geophysical barriers, such as mountain ranges, deserts and vast expanses of ocean. Bar-headed geese (Anser indicus) make biannual migrations between breeding areas on the Tibetan Plateau, China and Mongolia, and wintering areas in India. Their northward springtime migration must therefore include a formidable northward crossing of the Himalayan mountains onto the Tibetan Plateau. 

Some large bird species in Asia avoid the steep climb by migrating around the Himalayan mountains or by heading west towards the Caspian sea. Bar-headed geese, however, are known to migrate straight over the Himalayas, an energetic feat that has long been considered as one of the world’s highest altitude migrations. Using satellite tracking and archival heart rate logging, we describe the strategy used by bar-headed geese to carry out this impressive migration and some of the ways in which they may save energy. We also use physiological data to parameterize a model to estimate the maximum altitude to which a bar-headed goose might be able to fly in still conditions.

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

Thursday 11 June 2015

Postgraduate Seminar 11th June

Postgraduate Seminar Series - Spring 2015
11 June  2015 - 1pm - Zoology Museum (Wallace 129)

Postgraduate Seminar Series

Thursday 11th June

Wallace Museum 1pm

The idea of the Anthropocene: imagining alternative social and environmental futures in Wales”

Anna Pigott

This week, one of our speakers is Anna Pigott, is a 2nd year Geography PhD student. In 2011 she completed her MSc degree in Environmental Dynamics and Climate Change at Swansea University and previously graduated in 2007 with a BSc in Geography from Cambridge University. Her PhD focusses on how cultural visions of the future 're-imagine' humanity's relationship with the earth and environmental problems and feed into broader narratives about social change


The notion of the Anthropocene has implications for understanding humanity's relationship with the past, present, and future of life on Earth. In the Anthropocene, it could be said that the task is no longer to 'map' the earth, but instead to make sense of the tangled relationships between humanity and the Earth. Such a focus looks for new geographical imaginations and narratives of the past and the future, especially those emerging in the realms of art and politics. This paper takes Wales, a country with a pioneering political approach to sustainability, as a case study and explores how various organisations, particularly in the arts sector, are responding to the idea of the Anthropocene and creating visions for alternative social and environmental futures.

Talk 2:
Informed movement: one step at a time, do animals have a fundamental step length?
Richard Lewis
This week, one of our speakers is Richard Lewis. Richard is an MRes student here at Swansea and previously achieved a 2:1 in Zoology from Swansea University. Richard undertook an industrial year with Natural Resources Wales and hopes in the future to pursue a career working with carnivores.
With global biodiversity in rapid decline understanding how, when and where animals move within their habitat is of paramount importance to conservation. Current bio-logging tags have a low recording frequency and resolution of animal movement, due to battery constraints. The result of low recording frequencies are isolated pinpoints on a map, with straight lines being drawn between them, the “fundamental step length”. However, movement trajectories are often highly tortuous as individuals adapt their movement based on environmental cues. Such data are lost with low recording frequencies. Therefore it is proposed that high frequency archival tags can recreate these highly tortuous pathways and provide a more accurate description of an animal’s spatial ecology.
All welcome to attend!

Wednesday 3 June 2015

Biosciences Seminar Speaker 04 June 2015

Biosciences Seminar Series - Spring 2015
04 June 2015 - 1pm - Zoology Museum (Wallace 129)

Is genetic diversity really so important?

Dr. Sonia Consuegra

 Photo by D. Scott Taylor at Wikimedia Commons

This week's seminar will be by Dr Sonia Consuegra del Olmo, a population geneticist and Associate Professor at our Department of Biosciences at Swansea University. Sonia's research concerns Molecular Evolution, Evolutionary genetics, such as the Evolution of mating systems (e.g. here), Biological invasions (e.g. here) and Aquaculture and Conservation of salmonids (see here). Today's talk will present research carried out using a rather unique selfing vertebrate study system, the Mangrove killifish (Kryptolebias marmoratuse.g. see here).

Sonia did her PhD at the University of Cantabria (Spain), followed by postdoctoral positions and research fellowships at the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London and the University of St Andrews, followed by a lectureship position at Aberystwyth University in 2008. In 2013 then Sonia joined Biosciences at Swansea University as a senior lecturer. 

Genetic variability provides the basis for adaptation and speciation, and its importance is universally recognised. Loss of genetic diversity is mainly related to population size, and it is assumed to have detrimental consequences for fitness, particularly when low genetic diversity is related to inbreeding. There is also increasing evidence that genetic diversity could be important not only for evolutionary processes but also for ecological processes. 

So, how do some populations manage to thrive despite low levels of genetic diversity and/or very low population sizes? Epigenetic variation could explain it if it compensates, at least in part, the loss of genetic diversity in some inbred populations. We are investigating the relationship between genetic and epigenetic diversity and fitness using a really cool model, a naturally inbred fish that can self-fertilise and maintain populations of almost genetically identical individuals.

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