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Dating Mammalian Evolution

Fri, 28 Mar 2014 15:14:37 +0000

When the age of the dinosaurs ended around 65 million years ago, mammals stepped in to fill the gap, and the age of the placentals began. However, whether early placental mammals were already present on Earth before the demise of the dinosaurs has been the subject of a long standing debate. Recent research in GEE [...]

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The Delicate Balance of Effect and Response

Tue, 18 Feb 2014 11:50:36 +0000

We may not always be aware of it, but many wild plants, animals, fungi and even bacteria, provide crucial services to us which keep the ecosystems of Earth functioning. Environmental changes caused by human activities are now threatening many species, and those that cannot withstand these changes may be lost forever, potentially taking the services [...]

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It’s All in the Wrist

Fri, 20 Dec 2013 16:18:20 +0000

The evolution of the primate wrist has been dramatic, enabling primates to adapt to a wide variety of lifestyles and walking styles, including tree-swinging, climbing and terrestrial walking both on four legs and two. In hominids, the evolution of the bipedal gait freed up the forelimbs for tool use, and the wrist evolved independently from [...]

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The Transcriptional Profile of A ‘Wingman’

Wed, 27 Nov 2013 14:25:48 +0000

In many species, males have special adaptations to attract females. From antlers to stalk-eyes, to bright plumage and beards, males across the animal kingdom work hard to look attractive to the opposite sex. In some species, looking good isn’t enough, though. Male wild turkeys need a less attractive ‘wingman’ to help him attract a woman. [...]

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Damage and Fidelity: The Role of the Female Germline in mtDNA Inheritance

Mon, 11 Nov 2013 15:13:12 +0000

Billions of years ago, one single-celled organism engulfed another, beginning a symbiotic interaction that would change live on Earth forever. The mitochondria are what remains of this symbiotic event, and are responsible for producing energy in all eukaryotic cells. Derived from a free-living organism, they carry their own genes, but these genes are at risk [...]

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Winter tidal storm surge at Blakeney Point

24 January 2014

Blakeney Point - Old Life Boat Houses

Blakeney point, home to the UCL ecological research station, lies on the North Norfolk coast.  In early December 2013, a tidal storm surge hit much of the East coast of the UK, including Blakeney.  The surge resulted in flooding of the research station, causing some structural damage to the building, the Old Life Boat House (right side of picture), as well as the National Trust “New” Life Boat House (left side of picture).  Not the first, but certainly one of the largest inundations the old building has withstood over its 100 plus years of existence.  The force of the deluge upturned furniture and fittings, and contents have sadly been ruined.

Tide Height Record on Pantry Door

While winter storm surges are a regular occurrence at Blakeney, the magnitude of the December surge was exceptional, with flood levels approaching those of the great storm of 1953 with a tide mark recorded in the Old Life Boat House of around 4 ft (see flood marks on the pantry door).  National Trust maintained boardwalks, which protect the fragile dune system from damage by summer tourists, have been ripped out by the floods.

Seal Pup on Dunes

Impacts of the storm on the coastal vegetation and wildlife may take some time to work out.  Dunes have certainly been washed away, and the freshwater marshes behind the shingle spit have been inundated with seawater.  During the winter months, the dunes around Blakeney are home to a large colony of breeding seals, numbering in excess of 1000 adults and pups between November and January.  Initial concerns about the fate of the pups proved unfounded, as many just moved further inland. The National Trust rangers who undertake long-term monitoring of the colony confirm that the majority of pups appear to have survived. 

Interior Damage

Remedial works and repair to the Old Life Boat House have been delayed due to difficulty accessing the site as a result of investigations into a helicopter crash in nearby Cley on 7 January. 

It is expected that contractors can get to the site next week in order to be able to complete the works in March and the start of the Little Tern breeding season, when restrictions will be put in place by the National Trust to prevent nesting disturbance. (above right: Interior damage 2013)

(below: 1920's big tide)

1920's Big Tide


(below:  Shoring-up after 1953 storm)

Repair Works 1953

Page last modified on 24 jan 14 11:39