Archive for June, 2013

Neglected diseases: Ascaris

Neglected diseases: Ascaris

By EcoEvo@TCD | Research

It has been estimated that less than 10% of global spending on health research is devoted to diseases or conditions that account for 90% of the global disease burden. These are mostly diseases of the world’s poorest people. The general public, and funding agencies, often equate third world diseases with the big three killers; HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and malaria. There is, however, a group of conditions known as neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) which have an even wider impact. They include some of the most common helminth parasites that, while don’t often kill, result in morbidity and debilitation. One [&hellip

I am a nice shark, not a mindless eating machine

I am a nice shark, not a mindless eating machine

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives

Shark! Jaws has a lot to answer for. While I doubt there was ever a time that sharks weren’t seen as a threat, that threat was only threatening to sailors and those who chose to traverse the oceans. Then Jaws comes along and suddenly sharks become the enemy to anyone foolhardy enough to set foot in briny water. This isn’t to say that sharks aren’t dangerous. Earlier this year a man was killed by a shark in New Zealand in a vicious attack that left a community stunned. Yet this was a rare event, one of the [&hellip

Prince Tom

Prince Tom

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives

  There’s an international celebrity star of the Victorian age directly above my office. He’s lived there long enough to see his museum home gradually shrink around him to such an extent that he no longer fits out the door. He will spend the rest of his days eavesdropping on undergraduate lectures, seminar presentations and NERD club meetings. Prince Tom adds a flavour of exoticism and royal blue blood to our Zoology Museum’s collections. Tom was an Indian elephant caught from the wild and presented as a gift from the ruler of Nepal to Queen Victoria’s second [&hellip

Morphometrics are fantastic!

Morphometrics are fantastic!

By EcoEvo@TCD | Seminars

As I mentioned in a former blog post, we invited François Gould (@PaleoGould) to enlighten us about the murky world of geometric morphometrics. His talk and workshop were eventually described by some people (@SiveFinlay – to protect her identity) as “the best day of [their] PhD so far!” I will clumsily try to summarize our awesome day of morphometrics. What? François emphasized the importance of seeing geometric morphometrics (hereafter let’s be familiar and just call it morphometrics) as a toolkit of methods for shape variation analysis more than a discipline in itself. So one can use this [&hellip

The world dyed by algae

The world dyed by algae

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives

The term “algae” does not refer to a single taxonomic group but instead comprises a diverse array of species, from prokaryotic cyanobacteria to many types of unicellular and multicellular eukaryotes. It’s well known that algae make great contributions to sustaining the diversity and productivity of our natural world. It has been estimated that the number of algae species could range from 30,000 to more than 1 million. So it’s not surprising to find that algae, so high in diversity and abundance, have significantly altered the appearance of our planet. Just as plants add colour to our terrestrial [&hellip

What’s the Point?

What’s the Point?

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives

What do you study that? It’s a common question, and one that’s often hard to answer. Some subjects have obvious and immediate uses (medicinal drug development is an obvious one) but others have less clear goals. Much, if not most, of science proceeds through slow increments building on past knowledge, without any grander desire than to find out why something is the way it is. Even discoveries that have revolutionised our lives were seen as small curiosities when first discovered. When asked about the use of electricity following its discovery Michael Faraday is said (erroneously) to have [&hellip

An army of skeletons with lasers

An army of skeletons with lasers

By EcoEvo@TCD | Research

The word “Morphometrics” was already mentioned on this blog here and here. It’s a horrible term which nevertheless describes a really cool field in evolutionary science… Today we’re having a workshop with François Gould (@PaleoGould) so hopefully everyone will know more about all things morpho by the end of the day. I won’t go into the juicy details of procrustes analyses, elliptic Fourier transform or other Bezier polynomials (see Zelditch and colleagues “Geometric Morphometrics” book or Julien Claude’s excellent “Morphometrics with R” for further details about these friendly terms). Instead, I’d like to talk about one aspect [&hellip

Back from the dead

Back from the dead

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives

What do you associate with the word “extinction”? I think of death, dinosaurs, dodos, desolation and despair (well maybe the last ones are a bit overly dramatic but I was feeling the alliterative vibe). No matter what your initial reactions may be, I think the concepts of extinction being irreversible and ultimately a “bad thing” would feature in most of our reactions to the word. It turns out that neither of these initial associations is necessarily true. Extinctions are not always bad. It is all too easy to overlook their important role in shaping the evolution of [&hellip

Bringing our perceptions closer to reality

Bringing our perceptions closer to reality

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives

This blog post was originally written and published here on the SoapBox Science blog. The Soapbox Science event showcases UK women in science to inspire the next generation of scientists by making science fun and accessible. This year it will take place on Friday 5th July 12-3pm on the Southbank in London. If you’re in the area why not go and take a look? First a little thought experiment: without over thinking it, list ten top scientists in your field…now, honestly, what percentage of your list are women? I’ve been trying this experiment out on Twitter and [&hellip

Beasties in the grass

Beasties in the grass

By EcoEvo@TCD | News

On the 22nd of May, Trinity held its first BioBlitz day where members of the public and all nature enthusiasts alike were invited to see what little beasties they could find around the campus. We decided then to get our own trusty field books and cameras out to see what lurks just outside our department doors! The most obvious animals to find around the campus are the numerous bird species, including many small passerines that set up territories in the trees outside the department such as this robin and blue tit. The birds around campus seem to [&hellip