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The Importance of Size in the Evolution of Complexity in Ants

Tue, 16 Sep 2014 10:14:37 +0000

Ants are amongst the most abundant and successful species on Earth. They live in complex, cooperative societies, construct elaborate homes and exhibit many of the hallmarks of our own society. Some ants farm crops, others tend livestock. Many species have a major impact on the ecosystems they live in, dispersing seeds, consuming huge quantities of […]

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Understanding Catfish Colonisation and Diversification in The Great African Lakes

Fri, 05 Sep 2014 10:29:42 +0000

Why some regions or habitats contain vast, diverse communities of species, whilst others contain only relatively few species, continues to be the subject of scientific research attempting to understand the processes and conditions that allow and adaptive radiation. The Great African Lakes exist as freshwater ‘islands’, with spectacularly high levels of biodiversity and endemism. They […]

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Sex Differentiation Begins During Early Development

Wed, 27 Aug 2014 14:04:57 +0000

Males and females look different from each other, and these sexual dimorphisms are the result, largely, of sex differences in the expression of certain genes. Typically, scientists have studied sexual dimorphism in sexually mature adult animals, as this is the lifestage where differences are most apparent. However, many sex-specific phenotypes arise from sex-biased development, so […]

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Extinction and Species Declines:Defaunation in the Anthropocene

Mon, 18 Aug 2014 10:35:52 +0000

We are in the grips of a mass extinction. There have been mass extinctions throughout evolutionary history, what makes this one different is that we’re the ones causing it. A recent review paper from GEE’s Dr Ben Collen discusses the current loss of biodiversity and suggests that our main concerns are species and population declines, […]

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Defaunation in the Anthropocene
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Evolving Endemism in East Africa’s Sky Islands

Fri, 08 Aug 2014 14:16:32 +0000

The World’s biodiversity is not evenly distributed. Some regions are hot spots for species richness, and biologists have been trying better to understand why these regions are special and what drives evolution and diversification. A recent paper by GEE’s Dr Julia Day and recent PhD graduate Dr Siobhan Cox, investigated the diversification of White-Eye Birds […]

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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