Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research


CBER Events

CBER Research Talk - Fiona Spooner - 23 April 2018

Start: Apr 23, 2018 1:00:00 PM
End: Apr 23, 2018 2:00:00 PM

Title: How good are we at predicting the effects of environmental change on animal population trends?
Speaker: Fiona Spooner, PhD student, Dr Richard Pearson lab (research profile)
Venue: G04 Anatomy Gavin de Beer LT (map)
Abstract: Since 1970 it is estimated that there has been a 58% decline in vertebrate abundance. These declines have occurred alongside rapid, human-driven environmental change, including climate change. Being able to accurately predict the impacts of these changes on biodiversity is crucial to effective conservation, yet it is rare for the accuracy of predictions to be assessed against observed data. Here I will present assessments of two methods I have used for predicting the effect of environmental change on bird and mammal population trends. The first explores environmental correlates of observed population trends at a global scale; the second is a species level model which links species distribution models and population viability analyses in an attempt to capture the effect of environmental change on population dynamics.

CBER Research Talk - Adam Britton - 14 May 2018

Start: May 14, 2018 1:00:00 PM
End: May 14, 2018 2:00:00 PM

Title: Do freshwater protected areas conserve the diversity of Lake Tanganyika cichlid fish communities from human disturbance?
Speaker: Adam Britton, Julia Day lab (research profile)
Venue: G01 Lankester LT Medawar Building (map)
Abstract: Freshwater ecosystems contain a disproportionately high amount of global biodiversity as well as being hotspots of endangerment. However, there are a lack of freshwater protected areas (FPAs), and our understanding of how freshwater communities respond to human impact remains poor. Lake Tanganyika is one of the world’s most diverse freshwater ecosystems, yet only a small amount of its shoreline is protected. A dominant component of this ecosystem are cichlid fishes (~200 species), the majority of which are endemic. Increasing growth of human populations in the Lake Tanganyika catchment is known to negatively impact habitat quality, but like many freshwater systems the success of its FPAs in conserving biodiversity from human disturbance are unknown. During this talk I will discuss my PhD findings of higher cichlid species, phylogenetic and morphological diversity in protected areas. In addition to my conclusions that FPAs can be successful in the conservation of Lake Tanganyika cichlids, and more FPAs should be designated globally to alleviate the worldwide decline of freshwater biodiversity.

CBER Research Talk - Professor Deborah Gordon - 21 May 2018

Start: May 21, 2018 1:00:00 PM
End: May 21, 2018 2:00:00 PM

Title: The ecology of collective behaviour
Speaker: Professor Deborah Gordon - Department of Biology, Stanford University (lab page)
Venue: G04 Anatomy Gavin de Beer LT (map)
Dr Seirian Sumner (email)
Like many biological systems, an ant colony operates without central control. Each ant responds to its interactions with other ants nearby. In the aggregate, these stochastic, dynamical networks of interaction regulate colony behaviour.
Ants are extremely diverse, and species differences in collective behaviour reflect relations with diverse environments. A long-term study of desert seed-eating ants shows how colonies regulate foraging activity according to food availability and humidity, and how natural selection is shaping collective behaviour in current drought conditions. In the tropical arboreal turtle ant, trail networks respond to the distribution and stability of resources.
The algorithms that generate collective behaviour have evolved feedback regimes that fit the dynamics of particular environments. Examples from ants provide a starting point for examining more generally the fit between the particular pattern of interaction that regulates collective behaviour, and the environment in which it functions.

CBER Research Talk - Professor Jake Alexander - 12 June 2018

Start: Jun 12, 2018 1:00:00 PM
End: Jun 12, 2018 2:00:00 PM

Title: Reshuffling the ecological deck: novel interactions and the dynamics of species’ ranges
Speaker: Professor Jake Alexander - Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne (research profile)
Venue: G01 Medawar Building Lankester LT (map)
Host: Richard Pearson (email)
Abstract: Species' distributions are being reshuffled across the globe at an unprecedented rate, occurring through the spread of non-native species and range shifts of native species responding to climate and land use changes. This redistribution of species’ ranges is giving rise to novel assemblages, in which species interact that were not previously in contact. Biological invasions show us that the impacts of these novel interactions can sometimes be dramatic. However, the impacts of novel interactions following climate change are poorly understood. In this presentation I will draw on research conducted in our lab in alpine plant communities and with non-native plants to ask how novel interactions could affect the responses of species, communities and ecosystems to climate change. I also ask how evolution could affect the outcome of novel interactions. This work suggests that novel interactions could play a central role in mediating the ecological impacts of climate change, and I highlight several key challenges and opportunities to better understand and predict these impacts.