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Predicting Extinction Risk:The Importance of Life History and Demography

Mon, 28 Jul 2014 14:46:17 +0000

The changing climate is no longer simply a concern for the future, it is a reality. Understanding how the biodiversity that we share our planet with will respond to climate change is a key step in developing long-term strategies to conserve it. Recent research by UCL CBER’s Dr Richard Pearson identifies the key characteristics that [...]

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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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'Evolution: a can of worms'

20 February 2011

Study by GEE's Prof Max Telford et al published in Nature

Since the turn of the twentieth century, zoologists have set out from coastal marine stations at dawn to sieve peppercorn-sized worms from sea-bottom muck. These creatures, called acoels, often look like unremarkable splashes of paint when seen through a microscope. But they represent a crucial stage in animal evolution — the transition some 560 million years ago from simple anemone-like organisms to the zoo of complex creatures that populate the world today. There are about 370 species of acoel, which gets its name because it lacks a coelom — the fluid-filled body cavity that holds the internal organs in more-complex animals. Acoels also have just one hole for both eating and excreting, similar to cnidarians — a group of evolutionarily older animals containing jellyfish and sea anemones. But unlike the simpler cnidarians, which have only an inner and outer tissue layer, acoels have a third, middle tissue layer. That is the arrangement found in everything from scorpions to squids to seals, suggesting that acoels represent an intermediate form.

That hypothesis has gained considerable support in recent years, but a report published in Nature this week1 is causing scientists to rethink the storyline.  Complete article

All links:
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v470/n7333/full/nature09676.html

And accompanying piece

http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110209/full/470161a.html

And podcast http://www.nature.com/nature/podcast/index-2011-02-10.html

Profile of Max Telford

Page last modified on 20 feb 11 16:56