University of St Andrews
Sea Mammal Research Unit

SMRU News Centre

item 315
[11-11-2010 to 30-11-2010]

News Item:
Workshop: omics technologies...

Workshop: "-omics technologies for marine models" 30 Nov

This event will be held at SAMS on 30 November during the annual science meeting of MASTS (29 Nov - 1 Dec 2010). A special SOFI / NERC session on Nov 30 PM will follow a special MASTS session on Genomics scheduled on Nov 30 AM, which will be opened to SOFI delegates. MASTS delegates are automatically registered for and can freely attend the NERC/ SOFI workshop. The main objectives of this event are to build a community around the potential of "-omics technologies" to improve the biological monitoring of marine ecosystems. It will span across research councils to explore current strengths in -omics and systems biology in the marine biology sector, foster cross-council thinking and develop joint actions as appropriate, as well as looking at the international landscape. The event is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council.

see here for further details


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Upcoming Events
  • CBD Seminar Series: Negative social information, mate-choice copying and species diversity
    speaker: Dr Susana Verala (University of Aveiro, Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies)

    building: Harold Mitchell
    room: Dyers Brae Seminar Room
    see also: additional details
    host/contact: Dr Maria Dornelas

    Numerous field and laboratory experiments have shown that many species have the capacity for social learning, including mate-choice decisions that can be influenced by witnessing the mating decisions of others. This phenomenon, known as mate-choice copying, is a type of non-genetic information than can increase behavioural plasticity and cause genetic changes across generations.
    The impact of mate-choice copying to species evolutionary changes is still controversial, however, with theory predicting faster evolution and mathematical models finding frequency dependent effects that may cancel out the fixation of an allele via the process of copying.
    Here I will present a new numerical model of mate-choice copying that follows the population genetics tradition, consisting in tracking allele frequencies in a population over time under scenarios with and without copying. In contrast to previous evolutionary models, my co-authors and I considered both positive and negative social information because many mating systems are driven by males in pursuit of a mate, and female refusal of copulation may provide negative social information.
    The inclusion of negative social information to mate-choice copying helps the spread of a novel trait, thus contributing to species diversification, even if female innate mate-choice preference is biased towards the common male-type. I will argue that the presence or absence of copying might simply mirror the associated cost-benefit relationship of the mating system of a given species, and suggest how to test this prediction.
    All Welcome!

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  • Eavesdropping on whales: working on the challenges of estimating cetacean abundance using passive acoustic data - Danielle Harris - CREEM
    speaker: Danielle Harris (CREEM)

    building: The Observatory
    room: Seminar Eoom
    see also: additional details
    host/contact: Dr Janine Illian

    “Eavesdropping on whales: working on the challenges of estimating cetacean abundance using passive acoustic data”


    Acoustic data are increasingly being used to infer cetacean abundance or density.  Recordings of the vocalisations of many species are being collected from both dedicated and opportunistic surveys.  In some circumstances, standard abundance estimation methods can be used to analyse the acoustic data.  However, abundance estimation methods may need to be adapted or novel methods created, especially for use with opportunistic datasets.  In this seminar, I aim to (a) give a general overview of abundance estimation using passive acoustic data and (b) highlight some of the current research areas by focusing on two specific examples.  The first example involves adapting distance sampling methodology to deal with marine mammals at depth.  The motivation for this work came from two sources: monitoring deep diving beaked whales using acoustic equipment towed by ships, and a recently completed project that investigated the potential to monitor fin whales using Ocean Bottom Seismometers.  The second example involves the development of an abundance estimation approach where only the direction to a calling animal is known.  This work is part of a new project that is utilising the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty network of instruments (primarily designed to detect nuclear weapons testing) to monitor blue and fin whales. 


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  • SOI seminar: Using data-driven models to explore sea louse infestations on wild and farmed salmon
    speaker: Prof Crawford Revie and Dr Maya Groner (University of Prince Edward Island, Canada)

    building: SOI
    room: Gatty Lecture Theatre
    see also: additional details
    host/contact: Dr Dave Ferrier


    The relationships in any ecological system are affected by many, often interacting, factors and this is certainly true of farmed and wild salmon hosts, and the sea louse species which are amongst the most important of their natural parasites. In particular L. salmonis have been the most significant health threat to Atlantic salmon farming for the past two decades, while the impact of spill-over from these concentrated loci of infestation to wild populations has been a concern in many regions. These health threats and concerns have led to the collection of large data sets some spanning many years, and a range of questions arise as to the best way to model and interpret the relationship that may be present in such data. This talk will present a range of statistical and mathematical modelling approaches that the presenters have explored over the past decade address these challenges.  



    Dr. Crawford Revie

    Crawford holds the Canada Research Chair in Epi-Informatics at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Prince Edward Island, Canada. The main focus of his research involves novel methods to extract and organize knowledge that exists in large/complex epidemiological data sets. He has extensive experience in designing and delivering distributed database solutions in the domains of human and veterinary health. He leads a team of researchers who use epi-informatics approaches to tackle a range of tasks; from the development of web-based fish health databases, through network modelling of zoonotic pathogen spread, to the application of mobile phones in assisting animal health assistants in sub-Saharan Africa.


    Dr. Maya Groner

    Maya is a postdoctoral fellow at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Prince Edward Island. Maya's research focuses on ecological and evolutionary consequences of infectious disease in aquatic systems including sea louse parasites of salmon, wasting disease in seagrasses and chytridiomycosis in amphibians. Her research employs a range of approaches, from field surveys, to experiments, to theoretical models. Dr. Groner is also a member of the National Science Foundation supported Research Coordination Network on the Ecology of Infectious Marine Diseases.


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  • SOI seminar: Comparative diving eco-physiology: a tool to assess environmental change
    speaker: Dr Andreas Fahlman (Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi, USA)

    building: SOI
    room: Gatty Lecture Theatre
    see also: additional details
    host/contact: Dr Sascha Hooker

    refID: 1484

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  • BSRC Seminar Series: Fragment-based drug discovery- a decade of thinking small
    speaker: Dr Harren Jhoti (Astex Pharmaceuticals)

    building: BMS
    room: Lecture Theatre
    see also: additional details
    host/contact: Prof Jim Naismith

    refID: 1466

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  • SOI seminar: Toothed whales and tooth fish: depredation by marine mammals on fisheries around the Southern Ocean Islands of Kerguelen and Crozet
    speaker: Christope Guine (Centre d'Études Biologiques de Chizé (CEBC))

    building: SOI
    room: Gatty Lecture Theatre
    see also: additional details

    He will be discussing the depredation by sperm whales and killer whales on fisheries in the Crozet  and Kerguelen area that he and Paul Tixier have been doing over the last 10 years.

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