Archive for May, 2014

Seminar series highlights: Nathalie Pettorelli and John Hutchinson

Seminar series highlights: Nathalie Pettorelli and John Hutchinson

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives, Seminars

As mentioned previously on the blog, Andrew Jackson and I started a new module this year called “Research Comprehension”. The module revolves around our Evolutionary Biology and Ecology seminar series and the continuous assessment for the module is in the form of blog posts discussing these seminars. We posted a selection of these earlier in the term, but now that the students have had their final degree marks we wanted to post the blogs with the best marks. This means there are more blog posts for some seminars than for others, though we’ve avoided reposting anything we’ve [&hellip

How to get the benefits of mobility – even when your movement is constrained

How to get the benefits of mobility – even when your movement is constrained

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives

There are a long list of reasons why mobility in an academic career is considered highly desirable, both by individuals and the institutions which fund them. Scientists move around to take up jobs in a tight and international job market, communicate their work to the wider scientific community, work with new people, learn new techniques, strengthen networks or because they like adventure. However, there are many excellent scientists who are constrained in various ways to be less mobile than they would like or than would be good for their careers . I have always loved to travel, [&hellip

Biodiversity face off

Biodiversity face off

By EcoEvo@TCD | News, Perspectives

Between the 1st and 2nd of May several members of the Trinity Centre for Biodiversity Research got their game faces on for the inaugural Intervarsity BioBlitz Challenge. For the first time the Trinity fox and co were pitted against the best biodiversity on offer from the DCU, NUI Galway and UCC campuses. The stakes were high but the goal was simple; identify more species on campus then any other college in a 24 hour period and become the first college biodiversity champion of Ireland! Kicking off Trinity’s effort to win the championship the birdwatchers were up bright and [&hellip

Mooching in Madagascar

Mooching in Madagascar

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives, Research

I recently returned from a short stint of fieldwork in Madagascar. The purpose of our trip was to run some behavioural tests of echolocation in tenrecs but things didn’t exactly go according to plan. Therefore we had plenty of time to explore and experience some of the wonders of the 8th continent. Here’s a few of our wildlife highlights…  Author and Images: Sive Finlay, sfinlay[at]tcd.ie, @SiveFinlay

Bumblebees are not deterred by ecologically relevant concentrations of nectar toxins

Bumblebees are not deterred by ecologically relevant concentrations of nectar toxins

By EcoEvo@TCD | Research

In a previous blog post I wrote about my work on “toxic nectar.”  This paradoxical phenomenon occurs when potentially deterrent or toxic plant secondary compounds, usually associated with defense against herbivores, are found in floral nectar rewards.  Throughout my PhD I’ve spent countless hours in the lab performing experiments on toxic nectar, discussed this work at Nerd Club, and presented it at conferences.  After what seems like an awfully long time, our first article on nectar toxins has been published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.  Here I want to describe what I think are the most exciting findings [&hellip

How Do We Solve A Problem Like Invasive Species?

How Do We Solve A Problem Like Invasive Species?

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives

There are many threats to our environmental security: climate change, habitat loss and degradation, pollution. All are damaging the environment and impacting on our long-term survival. One threat that seems to have been often overlooked by the public, however, is the effect of invasive species. Invasive species are non-native species that adversely affect the invaded region. Not every non-native species becomes invasive: some fail to establish while others may establish but at sufficiently low population densities to have minimal impact on their new home. But a few species will find themselves so at home in their new [&hellip

Kakapo Conservation

Kakapo Conservation

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives

In centuries past, if you were to go into the hills of New Zealand on a summer’s night you may have heard a strange noise; a honking boom that resonated all around you. After 20 or 30 cycles of this boom you’d hear a high-pitched rasping ‘ching’ sound. This boom and rasp would come from all around you and would be heard all night, night after night for at least two months. This is the sound of kakapo males trying to attract a mate. Kakapos, (Strigops habroptilus) are nocturnal, flightless parrots. They are found exclusively in New [&hellip

Flatland

Flatland

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives, Research

Why are there no elephants in the mountains? Well, mainly because it’s costly to climb when you’re an animal of that size. A previous study estimated that a 4 tonne elephant would have to eat for 30 minutes to compensate for a 100m climb. Ideas man Graeme Ruxton and his co-author David Wilkinson develop this further in their new paper. They ask whether avoidance of hilly areas is to be expected in general for animals of a large mass such as the sauropods. These are the long-necked dinosaurs that were the largest terrestrial animals that ever existed. [&hellip

Silence of the Tenrecs

Silence of the Tenrecs

By EcoEvo@TCD | Research

I’ve been studying tenrecs for almost two years. I’ve read about them, watched video clips and handled hundreds of dead specimens. However, within that time I only met two live individuals, both of which were captive zoo animals. That’s all changed. I’m now well acquainted with a variety of tenrec critters. It turns out they’re a quiet bunch. My supervisor, Natalie, and I spent two weeks in Madagascar working with a research team from the Vahatra Association led by Steve Goodman. The purpose of their trip was to conduct a disease transmission study in bats and small terrestrial [&hellip