Thursday, 28 May 2015

Postgraduate Seminar Speakers 28th May

Postgraduate Seminar Series - Spring 2015
28 May 2015 - 1pm - Zoology Museum (Wallace 129)
Postgraduate Seminar Series

Thursday 28th May

Wallace Museum 1pm

“Environmental DNA as a Tool for Detecting and Monitoring Aquatic Invasive Species”


Chloe Robinson


Chloe is a 1st year PhD student in the department of Biosciences. She recently obtained distinction in her masters degree (MSc Environmental Biology) at Swansea and also achieved her BSc in Zoology here at Swansea.

Introduction of non-native species into aquatic habitats causes an array of negative impacts on the local environment and poses a paramount risk to biodiversity. Early detection of aquatic invasive species (AIS) is vital and necessary to prevent subsequent invasions in surrounding ecosystems. Current techniques to detect and monitor AIS are lacking and have proven to be unreliable at providing accurate detection and estimates of AIS within aquatic ecosystems. Environmental DNA (eDNA) is an effective and robust tool for detecting a range of AIS in various aquatic systems.


Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Postgraduate Seminar Speakers 21st May 2015

Postgraduate Seminar Series - Spring 2015
21 May 2015 - 1pm - Zoology Museum (Wallace 129)
"Applying X-ray Computed Tomography to the study of Tephrochronology"
Elizabeth Evans

This week, one of our speakers is Elizabeth Evans, a 1st year PhD student working on a inter-disciplinary project within the Geography and Engineering departments at Swansea University. Elizabeth completed her 4 year Msci degree in Geology at Durham University.

Tephrochronology, the study of volcanic ash as a proxy for sediment age, usually works in the realm of point data (individual grains of ash picked then analysed), 1D line analysis or 2D surface study. X-ray CT is a non-destructive technique that can reveal the three-dimensional geometry of these tephra horizons. These horizons were considered to represent the time they were erupted within the sedimentary record however it seems that things are a bit more complicated. Coupled with the issues of similarity of the materials in the samples this project is set to keep me busy for the next 3 years!
“Existence and uniqueness of stochastic differential delay equation of neutral type”
Yanting Ji

This week, our second speaker is Yanting Ji, a 3rd year Mathematics PhD student at Swansea University. Yanting completed an MSc in Mathematics and Computing for Finance at Swansea University in 2012 and previously achieved a BSc in Mathematics from Australia National University.

Briefly, this talk focusses on constructing the E-U theorem through a numerical scheme under local weak monotonicity and weak coercivity condition.

All are welcome to attend!


Tuesday, 19 May 2015

BioMaths Colloquia - 22/05/2015

BioMaths Colloquium Series - 2014/15

22 May 2015 - 3pm Maths Seminar Room 

(room 224 Talbot Building 2nd floor)

Why are species distribution models so poor at prediction?

Prof Jason Matthiopoulos


Ecologists and biomathematicians are increasingly asked to predict how individuals, populations, communities, or biodiversity and ecosystem characteristics will respond to environmental change ('ecological forecasting'). However, quite frequently the realized predictive ability is quite low, as often discussed (e.g. see here and here). Our BioMaths Colloquium speaker of this month, Prof Jason Matthiopolous from the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine at Glasgow University, has addressed this topic since several years and will present us some potential solutions.

Jason is Professor of Spatial and Population Ecology and has a long-standing research interest in understanding and modelling how populations of organisms change in space and time. A key aim of this research, and the subject of this weeks colloquium seminar, is how to turn ecology into a predictive science (see here).


Spatial ecology aims to understand where organisms are, why they are there, and where else they might be. This latter objective requires us to extrapolate species distributions to regions we have never observed, or forecast change in the future. Such predictive capabilities can only be attained given rich field data, constant environments, a deep understanding of the study species and suitable theoretical models. It is certainly frustrating (if not entirely unexpected) that despite the frequent violation of most of these requirements, the scientific literature is teeming with publications that attempt such predictions for important issues in conservation and wildlife resource management. 

I will present a brief review of existing theoretical approaches to the analysis of species distribution data and of the reasons why their predictions regularly fail. I will present recent work that successfully extends the predictive reach of these models and illustrate their application with both synthetic and real data, using telemetry from grey wolves (Canis lupus).

Beyond these developments, I will examine the underlying reason why spatial ecology has yet to fulfil its original promise: Its inadvertent de-coupling from the other two cornerstones of ecology – population dynamics and evolution. 

I therefore propose a synthetic approach to these three fundamental areas and outline ways in which it can be achieved mathematically and estimated statistically. An interesting by-product of this approach is that it offers the potential to quantify from field data such chimeric concepts as the critical habitat and the carrying capacity.

The discussions will continue over biscuits and tea/coffee after the seminar. 
Hope to see many of you!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Biosciences Seminar Speaker 14 May 2015

Biosciences Seminar Series - Spring 2015
14 May 2015 - 1pm - Zoology Museum (Wallace 129)

Zooplankton and the Scoop on Poop

Dr. Stephanie Wilson

Image from:

This week we will be hosting Dr. Stephanie Wilson, a marine biology research lecturer from the School of Ocean Sciences at the University of Bangor. Stephanie's research focusses on zooplankton ecology and their role in carbon cycling and the relation with climate. Specific interests are zooplankton impacts on nutrient redistribution and contribution to the biological pump, and the impacts of climate change on zooplankton distribution and abundance, and the ensuing carbon flux, through the deep sea.  

Stephanie joined the School of Ocean Sciences in Bangor in 2011 as a research lecturer. Previously she completed her PhD on the feeding ecology of mesopelagic zooplankton in the North Pacific Ocean at the College of William and Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science. This was followed by postdoctoral positions at first the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California, then at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole and at Arizona State University

Zooplankton are critical to the functioning of global food webs. Zooplankton-mediated processes can impact how organic carbon is transferred from the surface to the deep ocean, where it is sequestered for thousand-year to millennial time scales. Differences in zooplankton community structure and diet play a key role in affecting the efficiency by which marine snow is exported to depth, but how the structure of deep-sea food webs change with depth and location is poorly known. 

This seminar will discuss zooplankton, their feeding ecology, and faecal pellet production to investigate how food webs in the pelagic environment are linked and how these links may be affected by a warming ocean.

Hope to see many of you - everyone most welcome to attend!