All are welcome to attend.
For further information please contact biolhospa@uq.edu.au

Upcoming Seminars - 2017
 

3 March l Dr Pat O'Connor l University of Ohio

Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Cretaceous Terrestrial Vertebrates from Gondwana: Insights from Eastern Africa and Madagascar.

 

10 March l Dr Louis Bernatchez l Universite Laval, Quebec
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

On the maintenance of adaptive genetic variation to cope with environmental change: considerations from population genomics in fishes.

 

17 March l Dr David Redding l University College of London
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Macro-mechanistic modelling of human disease and alien bird species.

 

24 March l Dr Andrew Higginson l University of Exeter
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Conservation ecology and the theory of games.

 

31 March l Dr Fernando Noriegal Florida International University
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Juvenile hormone synthesis in mosquitoes: the challenge of doing two different jobs.

 

7 April l Dr Andrea Battisti l University of Padova
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Processionary Moths and Associated Urtication Risk: Global Change–Driven Effects.

 

28 April l Dr Sandie Degnan l University of Queensland
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Genomic crosstalk between animals and microbes: squeezing insights out of sponges.

 

5 May l Dr Phil Withers l University of Western Australia
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

New Insights into a novel capacity of mammals and birds to control insensible water loss..

 

12 May l Dr Lin Schwarzkopf l James Cook University
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Land Sharing and Conservation: Lessons from Lizards.

 

19 May l Dr Margie Mayfield l University of Queensland
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Multiple drivers of novel community assembly: what Western Australian wildflowers can tell us about plant communities in a changing world.

 

2 June l Dr Olga Panagiotopolouu l University of Queensland

Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

From teeth to feet: Biomechanical and morphological determinants of the vertebrate masticatory and locomotor systems.

 

2013 Seminar Series

1 March l A/Prof Elizabeth Borer l University of Minnesota
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 1-2pm
The Nutrient Network: Grassroots science to address global-scale environmental change
Abstract

8 March l Prof Robert Holt l University of Florida
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 1-2pm
Niche Conservatism, Evolution, and Applied Ecology: Challenges and Opportunities
Abstract

15 March l Prof Volker Hartenstein l University of California
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 1-2pm
Drosophila Brain Circuitry: Lineage Principle, Brain Neuropile Ultrastructure, Synaptic Connectivity
Abstract

22 March l A/Prof Pieter Zuidema l Wageningen University, Netherlands
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 1-2pm
The trees and the forest: persistent fast growers govern tropical tree populations
Abstract

19 April
l A/Prof Graham Jones l Southern Cross University, New South Wales
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 1-2pm
The Reef Aerosol Cloud Climate Feedback over the Great Barrier Reef and Western Pacific and Links to Coral Bleaching
Abstract

26 April l Prof Steven Chown l Monash University
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 1-2pm
Physiology, abundance and management: an integrated approach
Abstract

3 May l A/Prof Eric Seabloom l University of Minnesota
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 1-2pm
The community ecology of disease: viral pathogens in Pacific coast grasslands of North America
Abstract

10 May l Prof Loeske Kruuk l Australian National University
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 1-2pm
Selection, quantitative genetics, and effects of climate change in a wild mammal
Abstract

31 May l Prof Kathy Belov l The University of Sydney
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 1-2pm
Can genomics save the Tasmanian devil from extinction?
Abstract

Semester 2

26 July l Prof Hanna Kokko l Australian National University
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 1-2pm
Sexual selection theory: was everything already said in the 1970s?
Abstract

2 August l Dr Nicholas Casewell l Bangor University & Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 1-2pm
Snake venoms and antivenoms in sub-Saharan Africa: new approaches to improve antivenom therapy
Abstract

9 August
l Dr Kate Sanders l University of Adelaide
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 1-2pm
Shrinking heads and rapid speciation of Indo-Australian sea snakes
Abstract

16 August l Dr Matt Robinson l Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 1-2pm
Estimating and partitioning genetic variance in wild populations
Abstract

23 August l Prof David Evans l Diamantina Institute, The University of Queensland
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 1-2pm
Genome-wide association studies and extensions of this methodology in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children
Abstract

30 August l Dr Dick Zimmer l University of California
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 1-2pm
Keystone Species and Molecules of Keystone Significance
Abstract

6 September l A/Prof Will Rifkin l Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, The University of Queensland
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 1-2pm
Why some Biologists get Listened to and Others Don't: the Negotiation of Expert Status
Abstract

13 September l Dr Judith Reinhard l Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 1-2pm
Memories of odours past: floral scent learning and brain plasticity in honeybees
Abstract

20 September l Eivind Undheim l Institute for Molecular Bioscience
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 1-2pm
Centipede venom evolution: Casting light on a neglected group of venomous animals
Abstract

27 September l Prof Simon Potts l School of Agriculture, Reading University, UK
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 1-2pm
Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Food Security
Abstract

11 October l Dr Jim Weller l University of Tasmania
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 1-2pm
Control of flowering time in legumes
Abstract

18 October l Dr Ben Phillips l James Cook University
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 1-2pm
Evolutionary ecology in space: toads, fire, and turkey nests
Abstract

25 October l Prof Karen Holl l University of California
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 1-2pm
Applied nucleation as a tropical forest restoration strategy
Abstract

 

2014

31 October l Dr Menna Jones l University of Tasmania
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Menna Jones Devils, disease and diversity: can we restore keystone ecological function within current and prehistoric range?
The Tasmanian devil is undergoing severe and sustained decline across its range from a novel contagious cancer. As devil numbers decline, feral cats appear to be increasing and smaller species, the eastern quoll and the New Holland mouse, are disappearing. In this talk, I will explore the nature of the disease, and the long-term prognosis for the devil and for the Tasmanian ecosystem. Will the devil become extinct or will evolution of tumour or devil save the species in the wild? Can reintroduction of the devil to mainland Australia help with the control of feral predators?

 

24 October l Professor David Lamberts l Griffith University
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Professor David Lamberts Bursting the Limits of Time: Ancient Genomics in Antarctica
Ancient evolutionary genomics will inevitably progress from individual to population level analyses. The latter are likely to involve a large numbers of modern and ancient genomes from a single species, giving rise to a better understanding of evolution in space-time. Such an approach may lead to the discovery of general evolutionary and ecological principles and would have been impossible only a few years ago. I will present the results of the first detailed population genomic study spanning a significant period of geological time (to ~40,000 yrBP). I will also present details of 22 complete modern and 50+ ancient genomes of the Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae). Modern samples were collected from around the entire Antarctic continent, representing the complete distribution of the species. Ancient samples date from the Holocene to the late Pleistocene. I will present data on the levels of endogenous DNA from these samples and compare these to the level of sequence coverage of mitochondrial and nuclear genomes. My colleagues and I are in the process of estimating molecular rates, identifying changes in population sizes over time and to investigating the mutational processes that underlie short tandem repeat evolution.

 

17 October l Dr Matt Phillips l Queensland University of Technology
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Matt Phillips Geomolecular dating the evolution of mammals
Major recent studies on the origins of mammals reinforce divisions between fossil-based estimates (small-bodied ancestors, originating in the north, diversifying 65 mya) and molecular-based estimates (larger-bodied ancestors, originating in the south, diversifying 80+ mya). I re-evaluate the interplay between fossil calibrations and models of molecular rate evolution, and present an analysis that unites the molecular and fossil signatures for the major diversifications of mammals. In addition I will discuss some preliminary results on modelling ecospace differentiation and maintenance, and implications for understanding apparent competitive differences between placental and marsupial mammals.

 

10 October l Dr Terry Ord l University of New South Wales
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Terry Ord Evolution on the edge: the invasion of land by fish, and other evolutionary oddballs
The colonization of novel environments has been of special interest to evolutionary biologists because of the opportunity it brings to study natural selection in the wild. Whenever animals invade new habitats they will invariably experience new selection regimes and must adapt or otherwise fail to flourish in those habitats. On remote tropical islands throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans there are examples of animals that have made one of the most extreme ecological transitions possible: fish that have colonized land. These fish offer a unique opportunity to study the adaptive process from a variety of angles: social behaviour, communication, predator avoidance, life history and genetics. I will provide an overview of some of our recent studies on these fish, as well as touch-on some other animals that have made a different type of transition in lifestyle, the gliding dragons of Southeast Asia.

 

26 September l Dr Vincent Careau l Deakin University
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Vincent Careau Energy Expenditure and Animal Behaviour: Insights from the Quantitative Genetics, Comparative, and Artificial Selection Approaches
In this talk, I use a variety of approaches (quantitative genetics, comparative method) applied on different study models (in the laboratory and in the field) to test the relationship between and selection on energetics and behaviour. I show that the relationship between metabolic rate and activity/exploration is inconsistent across study models and levels of biological variation (genetic and inter-specific correlations). I will also present recent work on the effect of selection on the genetic architecture of behaviour. I will that directional selection increased initial multivariate constraints present within genetic variance-covariance matrix (G), which considerably slowed subsequent evolutionary change.

 

19 September l Dr Tim Connallon l Monash University
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Tim Connallon Predicting the relationship between sex-specific selection and adaptation
Most traits are expressed by both sexes, yet the orientation and strength of selection on such traits often differs between males and females. Recent experiments imply an association between adaptation -- the fit between a population and its environment -- and opposing selection between the sexes, yet it is currently unclear how general such associations are expected to be. I explore the theory of adaptation over time and geographic space in order to identify evolutionary and genetic factors that generate predictable associations between adaptation and patterns of sex-specific selection. The theory is discussed in light of current data.

 

12 September l Professor Frank von Hippel l University of Alaska, Anchorage
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Professor Frank von Hippel Ecotoxicology of freshwater fishes in Alaska: endocrine disruption, food web dynamics, and effects on the health of indigenous people
This seminar examines the ecotoxicology of mercury, PCBs, PBDEs, PFCs, and pesticides in Alaskan freshwater fishes. Formerly used defense sites (FUDS) and global distillation of contaminants are considered in the context of exposure pathways and health threats to Alaska Native communities. This work takes advantage of fish as model organisms to investigate bioaccumulation, biomagnification, endocrine disruption and altered gene expression in contaminated sites.

 

5 September l A/Prof Mark Vellend l Université de Sherbrooke, Quebec
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

A/Prof Mark Vellend Integrating ecology and genetics: patterns, experiments, and ideas
Ecology, genetics and evolution have been sister disciplines for essentially their entire histories, but a major resurgence of interest in synthesis has occurred over the past 15 years or so. I explore several ways in which this can be done: (1) Testing the hypothesis that patterns of species diversity and genetic diversity are correlated in nature due to common processes acting at the two levels; (2) Asking how genetic diversity within plant populations influences their ecological dynamics; (3) Assessing the utility of using ecological analogues of the “big four” processes in population genetics (mutation, drift, selection, migration) to conceptually organize the bewildering array of theoretical ideas in community ecology; (4) Considering traits as a common currency with which to quantify evolutionary and ecological contributions to community-level responses to environmental change.

 

29 August l Professor Raymond Cloyd l Kansas State University
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Professor Raymond Cloyd Integrating Biological Control And Pesticides In Horticultural Production Systems
Pesticides are widely used to suppress insect and mite populations in greenhouse horticultural crop production systems. However, due to issues associated with pesticide resistance and harmful residues there is interest in using pesticides in conjunction with biological control agents such as parasitoids and predators. Pesticides may directly or indirectly affect biological control agents. Direct effects are associated with mortality due to direct toxic effects or exposure to a given pesticide. Indirect effects are those that impact physiology and behavior such as development, prey consumption, longevity, fecundity, sex ratio (female: male), foraging behavior, and reproduction. This presentation will highlight how pesticides can impact biological control agents and present research from studies conducted with a number of biological control agents including the rove beetle, Dalotia coriaria.

 

22 August l Professor Catherine Hill l Purdue University, Indiana
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Professor Catherine Hill Rational design of new mode-of-action insecticides for vector control
Diseases transmitted by blood feeding arthropod vectors remain a major threat to public health throughout the world. The World Health Organization has established a roadmap to eradicate multiple vector-borne diseases by 2020. New, safer public health insecticides are urgently required for this purpose as continued vector control is threatened by increasing insecticide resistance. We have created an insecticide discovery pipeline to bring new mode of action products to the vector control market. The pipeline is focused on discovery of small molecule antagonists that disrupt the signaling of invertebrate G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) in vitro and in vivo. We have identified multiple chemical scaffolds with potential for development of “next generation” insecticides. An overview of discovery efforts will be provided, with an emphasis on rational approaches for design of highly potent and insect-selective insecticide leads.

 

15 August l Dr John Orcutt l Cornell College, Iowa
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Matthew Goddard Building a carnivore guild: predatory mammal ecomorphology in Australia and North America
Carnivorous mammals are important members of terrestrial ecosystems. Due to their top-down influence on the communities they occupy, understanding the pressures that shape carnivore guilds is crucial to predicting the impacts of environmental change. However, research on Northern Hemisphere carnivorans has not established whether these guilds are primarily shaped by the physical environment, interactions with prey animals, competition with other predators, or by phylogenetic constraints. My research compares modern carnivoran guilds in North America with dasyuromorph guilds in Australia in order to decouple phylogenetic and ecological effects. I also track guild structure through time in order to assess whether changes in the physical and biotic environments correlate with changes in guild structure.

 

8 August l Professor Yves Roisin l Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Matthew Goddard Caste evolution and ecological diversification in termites
It is now established that termites are originally wood-eating cockroaches living in family units. The early evolution of a sterile soldier caste made them definitely eusocial. Yet beyond the eusociality threshold, termite social units nowadays range from wood-confined groups of barely 100 individuals to huge mound-building colonies numbering millions and foraging over extensive territories for organic matter of diverse quality. I will emphasize how the social organisation of termites evolved in concert with their ecology and behaviour, leading to their high present diversity in tropical ecosystems.

 

1 August l Dr Matthew Goddard; l The University of Auckland
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Matthew Goddard The origin and maintenance of sex
Sex has been called the queen of problems in evolutionary biology as, on the face of it, it is more costly than asexual reproduction. Yet sex is popular in the natural world. Why? Dr Matthew Goddard will present his studies employing experimental evolution that have examined some of the major theories attempting to explain why sex is maintained, and why sex may have arisen in the first place.

 

6 June l Dr Peter Vesk; l University of Melbourne
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Peter Vesk Plants, traits and models
There are many species in the world. We have good ecological knowledge about relatively few of them and rather less about the great majority. The ability to generalise our knowledge is a central feature of science. Moreover, generalisation is crucial to ecological management when we seek to manage species with scant knowledge. In this talk I will describe the way my colleagues and I have been working through the problem of generalising ecological knowledge and in particular the use of statistical models for species responses involving species traits.

 

30 May l Dr Karl Flessa  l University of Arizona
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Karl Flessa Putting the dead to work: Conservation paleobiology of the Colorado River Delta
Ever since major upstream dams and diversions, the Colorado River’s flow to its delta and estuary has been greatly diminished. Significant societal impact began in the 1930s, well before the advent of environmental surveys, laws and policies. We have estimated impact by using shelly accumulations, stable isotopes, growth rings in otoliths and marine mammal remains in the estuary of the river. Stable isotopes in carbonate hard parts also provide a guide to estimating river flows needed for restoration. Putting the dead to work in this way has been a small part of the efforts to secure environmental flows to the delta, the first of which occurred this year.

 

2 May l Dr Morgan Pratchett  l James Cook University
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Morgan Pratchett Climate change and directional shifts in the structure of coral reef assemblages
Scleractinian corals are fundamental to the functioning of coral-reef ecosystems and are the primary habitat-forming species. Removal or destruction of corals will profoundly alter the structure and dynamics of coral-reef habitats, with potentially significant effects on species that associate with coral reefs. It is predicted reef systems that are devoid of corals will support 60-70% fewer fishes than those with healthy coral growth. In the short-term it is unlikely that climate change will in itself cause wholesale loss of scleractinian corals. More likely is that coral ecosystems will become dominated by a restricted suite of coral species that are either resistant to coral bleaching, or capable of rapid recovery. This talk will consider contrasting shifts in structure of coral assemblages and considers the effects of these changes to habitat structure on reef associated fishes.

 

11 April l Dr Chris McGrath  l The University of Queensland, School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Kevin Morris One-stop-shop for environmental approvals a messy backward step for Australia  
The new Australian Government is establishing what it calls a “one-stop-shop” for environmental approvals. This principally involves entering approval bilaterals with State and Territory governments to accredit their decisions as satisfying any approval requirements under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act). The Federal Environment Minister claims “the one-stop-shop will slash red tape and increase jobs and investment, whilst maintaining environmental standards.” Whether the claimed benefits are achievable is an open question and there are serious potential problems with the proposed system. There is remarkably little evidence to support the claim that significant time and costs savings will be achieved. It also undermines one of the key functions and benefits of the EPBC Act in practice – to provide an appropriate level of oversight for State government decisions. This problem will be exacerbated if the Australian Government breaks its pre-election commitment to retain power for decisions on State government projects.

 

4 April l Dr Kevin Morris  l University of New South Wales
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Kevin Morris Genomic dark matter: the complexity of Non-Coding RNAs from mechanism to therapeutic  
Observations over the past decade have demonstrated that exogenously introduced non-coding RNAs can transcriptionally modulate gene expression in human cells by recruiting silent state epigenetic marks to target loci. The research from our group now shows a distinctly different picture for gene regulation than has previously been appreciated. Notably, we find that an underappreciated RNA directed mechanism of gene regulation is operative in humans, including various diseases ranging from cancer to HIV to cystic fibrosis. The mechanism can be taken advantage of to either transcriptionally silence a genes expression in a long-term manner, or activate a genes transcription by the targeted degradation of regulatory antisense lncRNAs.

 

28 March l Dr Peta Clode  l University of Western Australia
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Peta Clode Marine systems under the microscope  
This presentation will provide an overview of microscopy and imaging data from a selection of collaborative marine research projects, including nutrient metabolism (nitrogen and sulphur-based), biomineralisation (iron and calcium-based), coral growth under environmental stress, and coral associated viruses and micro-organisms. In addition, opportunities for scientists to access and utilise key expertise and infrastructure at the Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation & Analysis at UWA for their research will be briefly highlighted.

 

21 March l Dr Bob Warner l Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology, University of California
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Bob WarnerFear and longing: Predator changes and the role of behavior in marine conservation 
In marine systems, many of the spatial and temporal changes in predator numbers are human-induced. These changes are occurring at both global and local scales. Indirect effects are known to be important in structuring ecosystems. Changes in predation risk can change the way prey reproduce, feed, communicate and interact with both conspecifics and other species. Changes in predator size and number have been documented to affect their own reproduction and diet breadth, and to indirectly influence the survival of young colonists to local habitats. Indirect effects can be profoundly important in ecology and conservation, and understanding them is critical for improving ecosystem-based management.

 

14 March l Dr Dorrit Jacob l Macquarie University
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Dorrit JacobBiomineralization of bivalve shells - the mineral perspective 
Biominerals such as bivalve shells are increasingly used as proxy archives for environmental and paleoclimatological reconstruction. Due to the metabolic activity of the organisms that form the minerals, these reconstructions often deviate from the physical-chemical behaviours described in the study of inorganic compounds. By exploring the composition of bivalve shells at high resolution, we can better understand the physiological effects that organisms have on the biominerals they produce. This talk will highlight the inorganic composition and structure of bivalve shells and pearls, pointing out some of the unique characteristics of minerals formed by organisms.

 

7 March l Dr Anna Metaxas l Dept. of Oceanography, Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Anna MetaxasWhat drives larval transport: from the beaker to the ocean
Population connectivity is one of the criteria in the design of networks of MPAs. For marine benthic invertebrates, most of which are sessile or near sessile, larval transport is a significant driver of population connectivity. However, the prediction of larval transport presents a major challenge because larvae cannot be tracked in the field. Our research measures larval behaviours in tractable laboratory experiments that can explain larval distributions observed in the field and can be included in biophysical models to predict larval transport.

 

 

 

2015 School of Biological Sciences Seminar Series

All are welcome to attend.
For further information please contact biolhospa@uq.edu.au

 

23 October l Dr Daniel Lauglin l University of Waikato 
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Daniel LaughlinIntegrating functional and community ecology to restore biodiversity
The restoration of degraded ecosystems is one of the most important challenges facing ecologists, yet our limited ability to accurately predict ecological responses to changing environmental conditions constrains our ability to do our job well.

The integration of comparative functional ecology with community ecology offers a way to achieve predictive generality to foster the maturation of theory-driven ecological restoration. In this talk, I will describe results from three research programs within my lab group that move us closer to achieving that end. First, I will address the importance of considering the multidimensional phenotype for understanding plant strategies. Second, I will demonstrate that soil-climate interactions drive functional trait distributions at biogeographical scales, indicating that the adaptive value of traits within a given climate depends strongly on the fertility of the soil. Third, I will describe a new model that can be used to predict community assembly and achieve restoration objectives

 

16 October l Dr Olin Silander l Massey University 
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Olin SilanderSelection on Gene Expression Noise
Gene expression varies from cell to cell in clonal populations, a phenomenon called expression noise. Certain cellular functions are enriched for genes whose promoters confer high or low noise levels. However, it is not known whether promoters have high noise due to selection or drift.

We evolved synthetic E. coli promoters in the lab, and compared their noise levels to native E. coli promoters. Many native E. coli promoters exhibit higher noise than laboratory evolved promoters, suggesting that selection has increased noise in these promoters. I discuss the implications of this finding.

 

9 October l Dr Andy Eamens l University of Newcastle 
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Andy EamensCharacterising additional and novel roles for DOUBLE-STRANDED RNA BINDING2 (DRB2) in the parallel RNA silencing pathways of Arabidopsis thaliana
DOUBLE-STRANDED RNA BINDING (DRB) proteins are essential cofactors of DICER-LIKE (DCL) proteins for small RNA (sRNA) production from double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) substrates. Arabidopsis thaliana (Arabidopsis) encodes 5 DRB and 4 DCL proteins and the DRB1/DCL1 and DRB4/DCL4 functional partnerships are required for microRNA (miRNA) and small-interfering RNA (siRNA) production respectively. Recently, we demonstrated that DRB2 is also required for production of specific miRNA and siRNA subsets in developmentally important tissues.

Here, I will describe additional roles for DRB2 in the miRNA pathway of Arabidopsis flowers and go onto outline novel roles for DRB2 in the floral siRNA pathways, the trans-acting siRNA (tasiRNAs) and natural antisense transcript siRNA (natsiRNA) pathways

 

18 September l Dr David Suggett l University of Technology, Sydney 
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr David SuggettSymbiodinium phenomics as a platform to predict reef health
Genetic diversity (“speciation”) amongst corals’ symbiotic algae (Symbiodinium) is now known to be immense, and appears to be a major factor in determining coral fitness. However, how diversity of the key functional traits defining Symbiodinium fitness map onto their genetic diversity remains unknown, thereby entirely confounding our ability to reconcile the increasingly complex ecological patterns of Symbiodinium that exist in nature. Physiologists are entering a new era by using “high throughput” technologies to characterise phenotypic variability and identify functional types of interest amongst genetic variants. This talk will explore how “phenomics” provides a new trait-based approach to define Symbiodinium diversity and consistent signatures of reef health over space and time. Real-time measurements of photosynthetic traits appear particularly attractive where these traits not only act to sustain reef growth but also as the physiological bottleneck to stressors.

 

11 September l Dr Kirk Moloney l Iowa State University
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Elissa Cameron Novel fire regimes induced by invasive species in the desert Southwest, USA?
Historically, shrublands in the desert Southwest of the United States have been fire free. The primary reason has been the lack of fuel in open areas between shrubs due to harsh growing conditions. An increase in exotic, annual species growing in the open, however, may be increasing fire risk, as indicated by a widespread outbreak of fires in 2005 after an unusually wet year. Observational and experimental studies were conducted from 2010 to 2014 at two sites in this region to explore the role of exotic species in increasing fire risk under conditions of climate change. The results of this work are being used to develop a spatially explicit model of fire spread in desert shrubland systems. Results from the study and their implications will be presented.

 

4 September l Dr Elissa Cameron l University of Tasmania
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Elissa Cameron Individual variation and mammalian conservation
Individual animals behave differently, and individual variation can have profound impacts on a range of life history characteristics, including survival and reproduction. However, we are only just beginning to understand how such behaviours may impact the success of conservation efforts, and may also be influenced by the conservation measures themselves. I use examples relating to maternal effects and social bonding to demonstrate the importance of considering causes and consequences of individual differences when planning conservation management actions.

 

 28 August l Dr Milos Tanurdzic l The University of Queensland 
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Milos Tanurdzic Large genomes and small RNA: Transcriptome reprogramming by plant hormone signaling in plant development
We are exploring how plants execute and fine-tune their developmental programs in response to internal and external cues relying on plant hormone signaling. In particular we are interested in the transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation during early developmental decisions, such as giberellic acid (GA)-regulated sex determination in a 1-3-cell fern gametophyte, or strigolactone (SL)-induced repression of branching via arrest of axillary meristems. Our experimental approaches rely on next generation sequencing to identify and quantify coding and non-coding transcripts in plants without reference genome sequence (but otherwise excellent model organisms). I will illustrate how plant hormones can have very different effects on gene expression throughout development. In fern gametophytes GA induces extensive transcriptome reprogramming, where we discovered over 1100 genes affected by GA, mostly up-regulated, including signatures of extensive chromatin remodeling, activation of several hormone signaling cascades, and extensive changes in non-coding RNA, including microRNA. In contrast, we found that SL induces small but very fast and specific transcriptional responses in garden pea axillary buds, including several key transcription factors, implicating other hormone signaling pathways, as well as post-transcriptional and post-translational control.

 

21 August l Dr Emma Sherratt l University of New England 
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Emma Sherratt Macroevolution in High-Dimensional Morphospaces
Macroevolutionary studies, those concerned with evolution above the species level, are important to understand how the diversity of organisms we see around us came to be. My research focusses on the evolution of morphological variation across wide-scale taxonomic groups, such as Caecilian amphibians, Rabbits & Hares, and Bivalved Scallops. With these examples, I will discuss the statistical tools I use to study complex morphological structures, which result in very high-dimensional morphospaces, and the challenges this creates.

 

14 August l Dr Craig Moritz l Australian National University 
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Craig Moritz Discovering our evolutionary heritage: hyperendemism of lizards across the north
Australia hosts a diverse and unique biota. This results from our Gondwanan ancestry, long-term isolation, and then invasion from Asia and adaptive radiation, the latter in the context of dramatic climatic oscillations that shaped current biomes. As a developed nation we think that prominent groups like vertebrates are now well known. Yet recent large-scale application of phylogenomics to widespread “species” demonstrates that we have much to learn. Results for tropical reptiles point to vast underestimation of diversity, with implications for taxonomy, speciation biology and conservation. Further, I will highlight the potential benefits for indigenous owners of much of this country.

 

7 August l Dr Renee Firman l University of Western Australia 
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Renee Firman A mouse tale of sex, sperm, and evolution
When females mate with multiple males, the sperm from those males must compete for fertilisations, and selection is expected to favour traits in males that maximize their fertilisation success. The outcome of sperm competition is typically determined by ejaculate characteristics that provide a fertilisation advantage, or biased use of sperm by the female. I will examine the evolutionary consequences of sperm competition for both male and female reproductive physiology in mice, at the whole organism and gametic levels, I will detail how I have combined a field based population approach with experimental evolution in the laboratory, and used novel in vitro fertilisation technologies to explore the hypothesis that sperm competition generates sexual conflict over fertilisation.

 

31 July l Dr Lewis Halsey l University of Roehampton, London 
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Lewis Halsey In the pursuit of understanding animal movement costs: the tractable human model
Food can be scarce, and searching for it can cost an animal precious energy from its dwindling reserves. In such instances, animals must be judicious with the energy they expend on moving, and in turn these costs are a key facet of their ecology. Focussing on humans as a tractable model species, my talk will discuss work I have been involved in to quantify the costs for an animal to move within its landscape, and in turn how these energy values can be synthesised to provide an understanding of the broad fundamentals that underlie movement energetics ecology.

 

3 July l Dr Scott P Carroll l University of California, Davis 
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Scott P Carroll Applying evolutionary biology to address global challenges
Two sorts of evolutionary challenge result from human impact on the planet. The first arises from cancers, pathogens, and pests that evolve too quickly, and the second from the inability of many valued species to adapt quickly enough. I will discuss prescriptive evolutionary methods that use genetic, developmental, and environmental manipulations to either target the rate and direction of evolution or reduce the mismatch between organisms and human-altered environments. Applied evolutionary biology provides a unifying framework that integrates both familiar and novel solutions in human health, food security, and biodiversity. As a field it is vital for meeting current and future targets in sustainable development.

 

5 June l Dr Matt Hall l Monash University  
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Matt Hall The genetics of infectious disease susceptibility: has the evidence for epistasis been overestimated?
It has been suggested that the genetic basis of the infectious disease susceptibility may be fundamentally different to that of other complex traits. Whereas the basic expectation for a quantitative trait is that many alleles of small effect will contribute to the patterns of genetic variation, studies of resistance often reveal that infection depends on strong interactions amongst alleles of major effect. Using the water-flea, Daphnia magna, as an example, I will discuss the debate surrounding the evolutionary importance of interactions between resistance loci, and argue that its role in explaining overall variance in disease outcomes may have been overestimated.

 

29 May l Dr Kay Hodgins l Monash University  
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Kay Hodgins The genetic basis of adaptation in human altered environments
Understanding the genetic basis of adaptation and the evolutionary causes and consequences of genomic variation represents an important challenge. Here I present findings from invasive annual weeds and long-lived conifers to explore the nature of adaptation in a changing world. Introduced species represent opportunities to observe evolution over contemporary timescales. Using a combination of common gardens, gene expression analysis and transcriptome data, I find evidence for rapid local adaptation and expression divergence during invasion. However, despite similarities in phenotypic evolution, there is little evidence for common genomic responses in invasive taxa of the Asteraceae. In conifers I investigate factors that impact evolutionary rate and the genetic architecture of adaptation to local climate. The ultimate goal for these data is to better predict how local populations of these species will fare under future climates.

 

22 May l Dr Rod Fensham l Biological Sciences, UQ & Queensland Herbarium  
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Rod Fensham Impacts of coal and coal seam gas on spring ecosystems
The English word ‘oasis’ describes an island of life in a barren landscape, and was initially applied to desert spring ecosystems fed by groundwater. These mythological ecosystems are most intact in Australia where they contain many organisms known from nowhere else on the planet. The expansion of coal-seam gas development and the proposal to develop the Galilee Basin coal deposits presents a new threat to spring ecosystems. I will be explaining the nature of the springs, the fossil resources and the groundwater with which they are associated, and how impacts can be predicted.

 

15 May l Dr Euan Ritchie l Deakin University  
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Euan Ritchie Predator-prey interactions, from Romania to the Mallee
Why are feral animals running rampant? Why are some of our native species causing environmental headaches too? And why are other species declining towards extinction? One reason is the lack of balance that now characterises many ecosystems. A clear way to improve this situation would be to return native top predators, in particular dingoes and Tasmanian devils, to landscapes where they once occurred. This would allow these species to resume their important ecological roles. Meanwhile, in other parts of the globe apex predators are making a resurgence, such as wolves, bears, and lynx in Europe. In my talk I will describe the complex interactions that occur between predators and their prey, using examples stretching from Romania to Australia’s Mallee.

 

8 May l Dr Loren McClenachan l Colby College, Maine  
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Loren McClenachan Turning back the clock on ocean declines: Using historical ecology to guide conservation
Human impacts on marine ecosystems often began centuries before the beginning of ecological data collection. The use of historical data taken from non-traditional data sources has revealed long-term, and previously unknown, changes to populations of historically exploited species, providing information vital for managing and conserving marine resources. This talk will use examples from around the word and diverse taxonomic groups to demonstrate the insights gained by using historical data to assess long-term population change, and the ways in which historical data can improve management, particularly for species in the early stages of population recovery.

 

1 May l Dr Janine Deakin l University of Canberra  
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Janine Deakin Do devil chromosomes hold the key to understanding the plight of the Tasmanian Devil?
Tasmanian devils have experienced a turbulent history, having gone extinct on mainland Australia and surviving previous population crashes in Tasmania. Now, a contagious cancer, devil facial tumour disease, is threatening their existence. Does the key to understanding their precarious existence lie in how their DNA is packaged? In this seminar, I will discuss some of the unexpected findings that have come from studying devil chromosomes. I will explore the potential impact these bizarre chromosomal features may have had on the development of the original facial tumour, and the important insight gained by tracking tumour evolution at the chromosome level.

 

24 April l Dr Alexandre Mendoza Soler l University of Western Australia 
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Alexandre Mendoza Soler Genomics of the unicellular prehistory of animals
The transition from a unicellular species towards a multicellular animal is one of the major evolutionary transitions in the history of eukaryotes. Comparative genomic analyses have revealed a common molecular toolkit responsible for animal multicellularity, shared from sponges to humans. To understand how the evolution of this toolkit correlated with the origins of multicellularity, we shifted our focus to the unicellular lineages closely related to animals.Integrating data from comparative genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics of several of those unicellular lineages, we have revealed that not only a big part of the multicellular toolkit pre-dates animal origins, but also many layers of complex genome regulation. This data blurs the gap between protists and animals, as key building blocks of animal multicellularity originated during our lineage’s unicellular prehistory.

 

17 April l Associate Professor Stephen Johnston l The University of Queensland, School of Agriculture and Food Sciences 
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Associate professor Steve Jonston Wild sex downunder
Reproductive zoology can provide a wealth of information that not only enlightens our understanding of behavioural ecology and evolution but which can also form the framework of captive breeding technology for ex situ conservation biology. Associate Prof Johnston of the School of Agriculture and Food Science, The University of Queensland, Gatton, will present exemplars of how a research paradigm that explores fundamental aspects of Australian wildlife reproductive biology (anatomy, physiology and behaviour) can result in practical outcomes that benefit both wildlife conservation and production animal industries. Ass Prof Johnston will also introduce opportunities for collaborative teaching in the area of 3D anatomical teaching and projects within the science faculty and UQ more broadly.

 

27 March l Dr Bruce Robertson l University of Otago, New Zealand 
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Bruce Robertson Genetic management of New Zealand’s critically endangered parrot, the kakapo
Like so many of New Zealand’s birds, the kakapo has been heavily impacted by introduced mammalian predators and habitat clearance, being reduced to just 51 individuals by 1995. Fortunately, kakapo managers have reversed this decline and there are now 124 birds. With successful management techniques in place, managers are now focusing on factors associated with small population size that further erode genetic variation and can impact population persistence. I will discuss how genetics has contributed to the kakapo recovery program, from devising a strategy to overcome sex allocation and testing for inbreeding depression, to guiding choice of sperm donors in artificial inseminations.

 

13 March l Dr Einar Nielsen l Technical University of Denmark
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Einar Nielsen The history of cod in Greenland: A major fishery collapse explained by archive DNA
Fishing and climate variability are known as important factors impacting the demography of marine fish species. However, it has been generally ignored that species, and in many cases the management units “the fish stocks”, are made up of genetically distinct locally adapted populations that may show idiosyncratic responses to environmental and anthropogenic pressures. Employing long term archived DNA based fisheries monitoring (1932 –2012) and high-resolution SNP analysis, we demonstrate that the proportions of different genetic populations in the historical cod fishery in west Greenland underwent dramatic spatiotemporal changes which can be linked to intensive fishing and climate change.

 

6 March l Dr Eric Taylor l University of British Columbia
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Eric Taylor Contact zones in fishes: evolutionary inferences and conservation implications
Contact zones are areas where genetically distinct populations come into contact and may interact ecologically and genetically. Owing to their dynamic geographical history, particularly with respect to repeated glaciations, Northern Hemisphere environments provide numerous opportunities to study the origin and consequences of contact zones. Here, I describe three systems in fishes that provide contrasting genetic and ecological patterns of contact and together suggest the importance of habitat heterogeneity as a driver of diversification with real-time implications for conservation.

 

2016 School of Biological Sciences Seminar Series

All are welcome to attend.
For further information please contact biolhospa@uq.edu.au

 

28 October l Dr Yong-Ling Ruanl University of Newcastle
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Sucrose metabolism and signalling: Gateway for conferring plant fertility and fitness

 

21 October l Dr Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz l University of Calgary
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Exploring the development of inflorescences with computational models and simulations

 

14 October l Dr Jonathan Webb l University of Technology Sydney
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Teaching an old quoll new tricks: using conditioned taste aversion to mitigate toad impacts on an endangered predator

 

7 October l Dr Diana Fisheri l University of Queensland
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Life histories and Australian mammal decline on a large and small scale, including the story of the bridled nailtail wallaby.

 

23 September l Dr Mark Ooi l University of New South Wales & University of Woollongong
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Cold-blooded indifference: reptiles as a case study of the Sixth Extinction

 

16 September l Dr Nick Clemenn l Dept of Environment, Land, Water & Planning, Victoria
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Cold-blooded indifference: reptiles as a case study of the Sixth Extinction

 

9 September l Dr Will Cornwell l University of New South Wales
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

A Geographic Mosaic of Climate Change Impacts on Terrestrial Vegetation: Which Areas Are Most at Risk?

 

2 September l Dr Jody Webster l University of Sydney
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

The response of the Great Barrier Reef to major environmental changes over the past 125,000 years

 

26 August l Dr David Heckel l Max Planck Institute
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Bacillus thuringiensis  and insect-bacterial coevolutionary interactions on two time scales​

 

19 August l Dr Jean-Luc Imler l University of Strasbourg
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Antiviral immunity in the model insect Drosophila melanogaster​

 

12 August l Dr Claire Holleley l University of Canberra
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Sex reversal in dragons: the rapid evolution of new sex determining modes​

 

5 August l A/P Robbie Wilson l University of Queensland
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Measuring success in nature and sport: how animals perform and why it matters​

 

29 July l Dr Richard Duncan l University of Canberra
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Ecological insights from species invasions

 

15 April l Dr Marcel Klaassen l Deakin University  
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dr Marcel KlaassenMigratory birds in jeopardy: on climate change and AIV culprits
Migrants are particularly hard hit by global change processes. Migrants rely on a chain of sites rather than a single site during their annual cycle, increasing their chances of becoming victim to anthropogenic environmental change, an issue elaborately addressed by members of the School of Biological Sciences at UQ.
But also climate change has a profound impact on the migrants’ behavior, population dynamics and habitus, as I will illustrate for shorebirds breeding in the Arctic where climate change is particularly noticeable.
Although thus requiring our utmost conservation efforts, the migrants’ implied role in the spread and dynamics of Avian Influenza Virus does not facilitate their protection. Taking an unconventional stand I will evaluate the evidence and hope to downplay the potential role that migrants may play in the next influenza pandemic.

 

8 April l Dr Rick Harrison l Cornell University
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Differential introgression and the ‘genic’ view of species

 

18 March l Dr Michael Brett l University of Washington
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

The use of dietary biomarkers and Bayesian models to establish trophic linkages in aquatic food webs

 

11 March l Dr John Terborgh l Duke University
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Dissecting Nature: the Lago Guri Islands or how predation regulates diversity

 

4 March l Dr Kaori Yoneyama l Utsunomiya University
Room 139 Goddard Building (8) 3pm

Strigolactone story

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