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Gee Research Blog

It Pays to Be Different:Evolutionary Distinctiveness and Conservation Priorities

Tue, 15 Jul 2014 13:15:25 +0000

The world is currently experiencing an extinction crisis. A mass extinction on a scale not seen since the dinosaurs. While conservationists work tirelessly to try and protect the World’s biodiversity, it will not be possible to save everything, and it is important to focus conservation efforts intelligently. Evolutionary distinctiveness is a measure of how isolated [...]

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Synthetic Biology and Conservation

Mon, 07 Jul 2014 16:20:18 +0000

Synthetic biology, a hybrid between Engineering and Biology, is an emerging field of research promising to change the way we think about manufacturing, medicine, food production, and even conservation and sustainability. A review paper released this month in Oryx, authored by Dr Kent Redford, Professor William Adams, Dr Rob Carlson, Bertina Ceccarelli and CBER’s Professor [...]

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Measure Twice, Cut Once: Quantifying Biases in Sexual Selection Studies

Wed, 25 Jun 2014 10:44:30 +0000

Bateman’s principles are conceptually quite simple, but form the basis of our understanding of sexual selection across the animal kingdom. First proposed in 1948, Bateman’s three principles posit that sexual selection is more intense in males than in females for three reasons: 1) males show more variability in the number of mates they have (mating [...]

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Technology for Nature?

Mon, 16 Jun 2014 13:23:54 +0000

Many of our greatest technological advances have tended to mark disaster for nature. Cars guzzle fossil fuels and contribute to global warming; industrialised farming practices cause habitat loss and pollution; computers and mobile phones require harmful mining procedures to harvest rare metals. But increasingly, ecologists and conservation biologists are asking whether we can use technology [...]

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Nice Flies Don’t Finish Last: Meiotic Drive and Sexual Selection in Stalk-Eyed Flies

Thu, 12 Jun 2014 15:54:47 +0000

While it might seem as though our genes are all working together for our own good, some of them are actually rather selfish. Scientists have known about ‘selfish genetic elements’ for nearly a century, but research to understand their behaviour and effects is ongoing. Recent research in GEE reveals how sexually selected traits are signalling [...]

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NERC PhD Studentship: Sexual selection, meiotic drive and fertility in stalk-eyed flies

Application Deadline:  10 May 2013

This project integrates field and laboratory based research on sexual selection. Stalk-eyed flies are a canonical example of sexual selection. In Teleopsis dalmanni, males have exaggerated eyespan and females show strong mate preferences for males with larger eyespan. Females have low fertility despite mating at high rates and exhibiting strong mate preference for particular males. Some populations harbour an X-linked meiotic drive system that results in female biased broods due to the degeneration of Y-bearing sperm. This project will further examine the inter-relationships between sexual selection, fertility and meiotic drive. The student will determine the frequency of drive in natural populations at established sites in Malaysia, the role of ecology and demography, and the consequences for the strength of sexual selection. In the laboratory they will exploit SNP and other genomic markers in order to reliably genotype individuals and progeny for meiotic drive, and study the association of meiotic drive with male eyespan and other aspects of male reproductive performance.

The UCL stalk-eyed fly research group is led by Prof. A. Pomiankowski and Prof. K. Fowler and studies multiple facets of the evolution of sexually selected traits. Given the project’s reliance on data collected from natural populations, the attributes of the successful applicant will include independence, initiative and enthusiasm in order to cope with the demands of field research. Note that applicants must have a minimum 2:1 BSc (or equivalent), preferably a Masters level degree, excellent numerate skills (computational and statistical), knowledge of population genetics and bioinformatics. Appropriate training will be provided by UCL. The studentship is funded by NERC and applicants need to satisfy NERC’s UK/EU eligibility requirements. It may be possible to fully fund EU candidates as well.

Applications should be sent as soon as possible, with cover letter, CV & contact details of two referees, to the primary supervisor Professor A. Pomiankowski (email: ucbhpom@ucl.ac.uk)

Closing date: 10th May 2013.

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