Co-authored paper on importance of environment in AMR featured in WHO Bulletin

Lecturer in Zoology, Dr Graziella Iossa, has co-authored a paper which looks at the importance of integrating the natural environment in national action plans in antimicrobial resistance under the One Health movement.The paper was featured in the Bulletin for the World Health Organization; one of the world’s leading publications for policy makers and can be read online.

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Student Trip to South Africa Enhances Conservation and Ecology Skills

As part of their studies at the University of Lincoln, students from the School of Life Sciences visited Mankwe wildlife reserve in South Africa in June 2018.

During their stay, the group of staff and students were able to explore the stunning South African landscape whilst carrying out scientific research on the health, behaviour, welfare, conservation and ecology of the wildlife in this biodiversity hotspot.

In the beautiful and fragile ecosystem of Mankwe, students and staff worked alongside a group of  local community-level conservationists. Throughout their trip, students learnt and developed field and identification skills as well as finding out about reserve management and anti-poaching strategies.  In addition, they were able to apply skills and knowledge gained during their degree programme to develop a self-driven research project on an aspect of animal health, behaviour and/or ecology.

Mankwe is a 4750 hectare reserve in the North West Province of South Africa, approximately 5km east of Pilanesberg National Park. The accommodation is a selection of safari tents, wooden cabins and a clinker brick chalet at the Waterbuck camp, where students have the opportunity to experience a true bush adventure. There are no fences so students live among the wildlife.

To find out more information about the School of Life Sciences Overseas Field Trips, click here.

Conflict Between Sexes Could Replace Evolution of New Species

New research shows that males and females of the same species can evolve to be so different that they prevent other species from evolving or colonising habitats, challenging long-held theories on the way natural selection drives the evolution of biodiversity.

According to Darwin’s theory of natural selection, first introduced in his book On the Origin of Species (1859), new environments such as mountains and islands with abundant food and habitats, offer species the ‘ecological opportunity’ to colonise an area using those resources.

New research from the UK has shown that exactly the same mechanism of evolution that creates new species also operates within the same species when males and females compete for the ecological resources available in different habitats, such as bushy areas or stony patches with abundant food. The conflict between the sexes can lead to one sex becoming bigger, more colourful or adapting to eat different food, just like a traditional process of evolution by natural selection can lead an ancestor to split into two different species.

This process of evolution between the sexes expands the biodiversity of the area – a development that evolutionary biologists previously thought only occurred when the number of different species using different resources or ‘niches’ increases. This new research challenges that assumption, showing that different species and different sexes of the same species can occupy these niches.

This new research which explored the evolution of lizards in the Chilean Andes Mountains and Argentinean Patagonia, shows that different sexes of the same species can fill niches as well, meaning new species are actively prevented from evolving.

This is because there is no new environment for them to occupy – a necessary condition for new species to evolve under Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

Conducted by academics from the Universities of Lincoln, Exeter and Sheffield, the study demonstrated that biodiversity can now be seen as the formation of new, different species, or, as the formation of different sexes which are distinct enough to be equivalent to different species in the way they ‘saturate’ ecological niches.

Dr Daniel Pincheira-Donoso, Senior Lecturer in Evolutionary Biology at the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln and lead researcher on the study, said: “Our research reveals evidence for this intriguing phenomenon that the evolution of sexes within a species could replace the evolution of new species, which begins to add a new layer to our understanding of the evolution of biodiversity.

“It is important to stress that the diversity of life on our planet applies not only to the evolution of different species, but also to the independent evolution of males and females within the same species, which potentially has very important implications.”

The findings have been published in the scientific journal Global Ecology and Biogeography.

Article reblogged from here

Student Conservation and Ecology Research Skills Enhanced on Field Trip to South Africa

On 22nd August 2017, students from the School of Life Sciences visited Mankwe wildlife reserve, South Africa, as part of their studies at the University of Lincoln.

During their 1o day stay, students were able to explore the stunning South African landscape whilst carrying out scientific research on the health, behaviour, welfare, conservation and ecology of the wildlife in this biodiversity hotspot.

In the beautiful and fragile ecosystem of Mankwe, students and staff worked alongside a group of  local community-level conservationists. Throughout their trip, students learnt and developed field and identification skills as well as finding out about reserve management and anti-poaching strategies.  In addition, they were able to apply skills and knowledge gained during their degree programme to develop a self-driven research project on an aspect of animal health, behaviour and/or ecology.

Already established at the reserve are a number of long-term research and monitoring projects that include a camera trap network, small mammal monitoring and surveys of scavengers (primarily brown hyenas).

In addition to working hard, students and staff also welcomed the chance to relax in their surroundings of the Waterbuck camp, and enjoyed the food prepared by the staff at the camp whilst discussing the solutions to problems facing the wildlife inhabiting this beautiful area.

Mankwe has 48 species of large mammals, over 300 species of birds, 30 species of reptiles, 15 species of small mammals and 68 species of dung beetles. Mankwe enables guests to have a true bush experience and gives guests a chance to live amongst the abundant wildlife as all camps are unfenced. Game drives are done in open vehicles and bush walks are conducted on the reserve. Mankwe has 2 camps: Waterbuck Camp is a 33 sleeper camp situated on the banks of Motlobo dam and Nkombi Camp is a 12 sleeper volunteer camp situated in the heart of the reserve. We will be staying at Waterbuck Camp.

Mankwe’s main objective is education and research. They currently facilitate field visits from ten Universities and run seven Earthwatch research teams annually. They work closely with the community to create conservation awareness by establishing Wildlife Clubs in local schools and hosting conservation days on the reserve.

Find out more about the School of Life Sciences Overseas Field Trips.

 

Tiny poisonous Brazilian frogs are ‘deaf’ to their own call

Tiny Brazilian frogs still ‘sing’ despite not being able to hear themselves – this is the surprising discovery of new scientific research.

The new study, published in the journal Scientific Reports from the publishers of Nature, reveals that two species of pumpkin toadlets found on the leaf litter of Brazil’s Atlantic forest are insensitive to the sound of their own calls, producing sounds outside their hearing sensitivity range due to a partly undeveloped inner ear. 

The findings show that these species differ dramatically from other frogs and toads, who have their ears tuned to the dominant frequency of their vocalisations and rely heavily on their acoustic communication to find a mate.

The results are particularly surprising due the potential costs associated with signal production. Male frogs calling to signal their presence to the opposite sex use valuable energy stores and could alert predators and parasites to their presence. However, like many brightly-coloured tropical frogs, pumpkin toadlets are highly toxic which researchers believe could lessen the threat to them from predators.

The research was led by scientists from a number of international universities, including the University of Campinas, Brazil, the University of Southern Denmark, Denmark, and the University of Lincoln, UK.

As pumpkin toadlets do not have ears, researchers exposed them to broadband signals and non-invasively scanned their body with a micro-scanning laser Doppler vibrometer, to detect vibrations, aiming to identify potential areas that vibrate at the frequency of the male calls. While vibrations were detected in the lungs, neural recordings suggest that the frogs do not ‘hear’ these frequencies.

The frogs are thought to be a unique case in the animal kingdom of a communication signal persisting even after its target audience has lost the ability to detect, and could be an example of evolution in the making where visual communication is replacing acoustic communication.

The movement of the throat made when males call out could constitute a visual signal, representing a by-product of the true signalling behaviour.

Dr Fernando Montealegre-Z, Head of the Bioacoustics and Sensory Biology Lab in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln, said: “These species effectively sing for nothing. It is a default behaviour after losing their hearing. They may be in a stage of evolution towards the complete loss of acoustic communication, where the hearing system has been lost but the vocal signals still occur.”

Studying the unique status of acoustic communication in these pumpkin toadlets further is likely to provide additional insights into the evolution and degeneration of acoustic communication systems in vertebrates.

The study, ‘Evidence of auditory insensitivity to vocalisation frequencies in two frogs’, is available to view online (Doi:10.1038/s41598-017-12145-5).