Monday 25 February 2019

Biosciences Seminar Speaker 28 February 2019

Biosciences Seminar Series - Winter 2019
28 February 2019 - 1pm - Zoology Museum

Bird flight, inside & out: the biomechanics of slow flight

Dr Kristen Crandell

(University of Bangor, UK)

image by Dr Kristen Crandell

Our Biosciences Seminar Series continues with a talk by our guest from Bangor University, Dr Kristen Crandel from the School of Biological Sciences at Bangor University

A vertebrate’s success is intrinsically tied to the ability to move, and the morphology and performance allowing for locomotion is shaped by the environment around it. This talk will summarize my work to date on avian flight mechanics, exploring the aerodynamics of flight alongside the internal musculo-skeletal and morphological adaptations in birds allowing for flight. I will discuss how birds harness energy from their environment (or not), both from the ground and the wind. This includes a focus on how the wind allows hyperarial swallows to forage without cost.  I will also explore how their natal environment has lasting performance implications, and how performance may be used as a proxy for fitness. Finally, I will then take a look inside the bird to explore musculo-skeletal and wing structure and function that allows for increased force production at low cost, and outline a focal study on how birds have evolved over time for aerodynamic (and hydrodynamic) morphologies. 

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

For the list of forthcoming seminars see here

Wallace Coffee Talks - 26 February 2019

Wallace Coffee Talks - Winter 2019 
26 February - 1pm - Zoology Museum

What’s Welsh for Brexit?
This talk will examine the Brexit vote and subsequent Article 50 negotiation process from a Welsh perspective. Arguing that the vote was driven by similar factors to those at play in the English electorate, the talk then focuses on the lack of awareness of and interest in the positioning of Welsh parties during the negotiation phase. I argue that both trends are driven by the British emphasis of the mediascape in Wales – which poses difficulties given the extent to which Wales is uniquely exposed to a ‘hard’ Brexit outcome.   

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 18 February 2019

Wallace Coffee Talks - 21 February 2019

Wallace Coffee Talks - Winter 2019 
21 February - 1pm - Zoology Museum

Charlotte Solman (SwanseaUniversity, UK)
Intra-individual variation in sheep wool cortisol
It is becoming increasingly important to be able to accurately assess the welfare of livestock populations, given the many different stressors they are exposed to. My MRes project focused on validating the use of wool samples, collected from Welsh mountain sheep, to measure chronic cortisol concentrations and determine the suitability of this technique for assessing and monitoring the welfare of agricultural sheep populations.

Anna Bracken & Charlotte Christensen (SwanseaUniversity, UK)
A snapshot of Cape chacma baboon fieldwork 2018
Having recently returned from their first field season studying baboons in Cape Town, South Africa, Anna and Charlotte will give a short (photo heavy!), insight on the current conflict with baboons on the Cape, baboon behaviour and how to identify individuals and various interactions, the type of data they collected and the challenges they encountered. They will finish by giving a brief outline of what each of their separate PhD studies will investigate.

Friday 15 February 2019

Biomaths Colloquium - 15/02/2019

BioMaths Colloquium Series - 2018/19

15 February 2019 - 3pm Robert Recorde Room

(Computational Foundry, Bay Campus)

Modelling Across Scales in Development and Disease

Dr Noemi Picco

(Department of Mathematics, Computational FoundrySwansea University, UK) 

Our BioMaths Colloquium Series resumes for the winter term with a seminar by Dr Noemi Picco, who recently joined us as Lecturer at the Department of Mathematics (Computational Foundry) at Swansea University, coming from the Mathematical Institute at the University of OxfordNoemi is a mathematician particularly interested in research questions in Mathematical Biology coming from the fields of cancer research and developmental neurobiology, such as tumour growth or the dynamics of the development of the cerebral cortex.

Most biological systems span multiple spatial and temporal scales. It is often the case that the experimental data is available at a coarse-grained level, while the process of interest operates at much finer scales. Mathematical modelling can help the understanding of how dynamical interactions at different scales filter through at the level of the observable data.

I will talk about two model systems, the developing brain and cancer, to show how data-driven modelling can describe the processes of interest and make testable predictions. Neurogenesis is the process by which neurons are produced by neural progenitor cells. Many factors influence how neurogenesis differs between species, leading to brains of different shapes and sizes. In order to understand the divergence of evolutionary trajectories resulting in such diversity, we must study and compare the developmental programmes in different species. Critically, to fully understand neurogenesis in development, we are faced with the challenge of understanding the temporal changes in cell division strategy. 

Resistance to targeted therapies in a class of cancers (e.g. melanoma and non small cell lung cancer) is poorly understood and seems to be the result of complex interactions between the cancer cells, the host tissue, and the drug. Using a mathematical and computational framework to bridge between experimental models and scales, we can separate intrinsic and extrinsic components of resistance. The ultimate goal is to design an intermittent treatment protocol able to control the emergence of resistance during drug administration, while limiting tumour regrowth during treatment holidays.

The power of these interdisciplinary efforts is to drive an understanding of what is known, and what is left to discover, planning onwards to systematically fill in the gaps. For both systems I will present some preliminary findings and highlight the current limitations in the interpretation of model predictions, identifying a specific need for experimental quantifications.

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

For the list of forthcoming seminars, see here

Monday 4 February 2019

Biosciences Seminar Speaker 07 February 2019

Biosciences Seminar Series - Winter 2019
07 February 2019 - 1pm - Zoology Museum

Digestive adaptations to aerial lifestyle: bats are birds

Prof Ariovaldo Pereira da Cruz Neto

Our Biosciences Seminar Series resumes for the winter term and we are delighted to welcome Prof Ariovaldo P. Cruz-Neto from the Laboratory of Ecological and Evolutionary Physiology at the Department of Zoology at the State University of São Paulo in Rio Claro (Brazil). Neto is an ecological and evolutionary physiologist (e.g. see here for his recent book), with research focussing especially on bats, rodents and birds.

In vertebrates, powered flight independently evolved in three lineages:  bats, birds and in the extinct pterosaurs. Powered flight is an expensive mode of locomotion and requires extensive, and intertwined, modifications in the respiratory, circulatory and digestive systems. To what extent such modifications reflects phylogenetic constraints or are special cases of convergent evolution is an interesting question.  Phylogenetic constraints seem to operate at the level of respiratory system. However, bats shows optimization of some elements of the respiratory system that are thought to enhance its capability for gas exchange. Bats and birds showed convergence in some aspects of the circulatory system and in the muscle capillary network. 

In this talk I provide evidences for convergent evolution between birds and bats at the level of digestive system. Due to the burden placed by carrying excess mass when flying, birds and bats evolved intestines with smaller mass and smaller nominal surface area than non-flying mammals (NFM). In principle, such reduction in gut size would be maladaptive, as it decreases food transit time and could potentially jeopardize digestive capacity. However, digestive efficiency in bats and birds are remarkably similar to that of NFM. The reliance on paracellular route for nutrient uptake convergently evolved in bats and birds to overcome this potential trade-off. Although data are still scant, the mechanistic basis associated with a high reliance of the paracellular pathway seems also to converge between birds and bats. Thus, at the level of the adaptations of digestive system associated with the evolution of powered flight, bats are birds!

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

For the list of forthcoming seminars see here