Monthly Archives: July 2015

Bird Evolution – from Dinosaurs to DNA

AllanWilsonSeries2015Scott Edwards, Prof. of Zoology, Curator of Ornithology, Harvard University
Wednesday, 12 August 2015 from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
Napier venue: National Aquarium of New Zealand, Marine Parade, Napier

BOOKINGS REQUIRED – CLICK HERE
NOTE CHANGE OF VENUE

The Hawke’s Bay Branch of the Royal Society is delighted to be included in the Allan Wilson Centre’s 2015 International Lecture Series.

In this lecture, Scott Edwards explains that birds are the living descendants of dinosaurs.  This theory, based almost entirely on the size and shape of fossilized bones, is now the world view shared by most evolutionists.  What is less well known is that the genomes of birds – comprised of over 1 billion DNA letters and thousands of genes – bear traces of their dinosaur ancestry as well.

Modern genomics reveals how bird genomes reflect their streamlined and high-energy lifestyles, epitomized by their ability to fly. Deciphering the language of DNA reveals the origin of birds’ unique traits, such as feathers, the mystery of evolutionary reversals, such as loss of flight, and provides clues to their stunning diversity and survival in the face of global environmental change.

ScottEdwards

Scott Edwards is Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Curator of Ornithology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. He moved to Harvard University in late 2003 as a Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Curator of Ornithology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology after serving as a faculty for 9 years in the Zoology Department and the Burke Museum at the University of Washington, Seattle.

Scott‘s interest in ornithology and natural history began as a child growing up in Riverdale, Bronx, NYC, where he undertook his first job in environmental science working for an environmental institute called Wave Hill.He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard in 1986.

In New Guinea and Australia he researched ecology of birds-of-paradise and studied the genetics and population structure of a group of cooperatively breeding songbirds called babblers (Pomatostomus) found throughout Australia and New Guinea. He received his PhD in 1992 from the Department of Zoology and Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley, in 1992.  He conducted postdoctoral research in avian disease genetics at the University of Florida, Gainesville.  He has conducted museum-based fieldwork throughout the U.S., Australia and the Pacific region and has interests in many aspects of avian biology, including evolutionary history and biogeography, disease ecology, population genetics and comparative genomics.

He has served on the National Geographic’s Committee for Research and Exploration, the Senior Advisory Boards of the US National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) and the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS), and on the Advisory Boards of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian.  He oversees a program funded by the National Science Foundation to increase the diversity of undergraduates in evolutionary biology and biodiversity science.  He is currently serving as Director of the Division of Biological Infrastructure in the Biology Directorate of the National Science Foundation.

The rise and fall of tuatara and wasps

Victoria Uni Extinction vortex Flier

Lecture Theatre 1, Eastern Institute of Technology, Taradale
Wednesday 19 August at 5.30pm

If you would like to attend, please email rsvp@vuw.ac.nz  with ‘Napier lecture’ in the subject line or phone 04-463 5791 by Friday 14 August.

Leading ecology experts from Victoria University of Wellington are visiting Napier this month to give a public lecture on two animal populations facing very different challenges.

Dr Nicky Nelson and Professor Phil Lester from Victoria’s School of Biological Sciences will discuss the population dynamics of tuatara and wasps at their talk at the Eastern Institute of Technology.

Tuatara are iconic New Zealand animals facing possible extinction as a result of climate change, with rising temperatures impacting on the sex-ratio of the species, leading to a greater number of males being born.

Dr Nicky Nelson, who is also a Principal Investigator at the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution, will present a case study considering these impacts, the role of re-introduced tuatara populations, and what conservation actions can help  save these national treasures, or taonga.

Professor Lester will discuss methods being developed to take the sting out of one of New Zealand’s most abundant, widely distributed and damaging pests—the common wasp.

It has been estimated that wasp numbers need to be reduced by up to 90 percent to effect an increase in the survival probability rates of our native animals. Professor Lester will discuss novel pest control projects he is leading as part of a National Science Challenge, including using mites, gene silencing and artificial pheromones.

Download flier here>

Symphony of the Soil

SymphonyoftheSoil6 – 8 PM, Tuesday 25 August 2015
Century Cinema, MTG, Napier

In this International Year of Soils, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has arranged a public viewing of the innovative documentary, “Symphony of the Soil” by Deborah Koons Garcia.

“Drawing from ancient knowledge and cutting edge science, Symphony of the Soil is an artistic exploration of the miraculous substance soil. By understanding the elaborate relationships and mutuality between soil, water, the atmosphere, plants and animals, we come to appreciate the complex and dynamic nature of this precious resource.”

“The film also examines our human relationship with soil, the use and misuse of soil in agriculture, deforestation and development, and the latest scientific research on soil’s key role in ameliorating the most challenging environmental issues of our time.”

The showing of the movie will be followed by pizza and a discussion forum.

Download printable flier here>

Gold coin donation, koha

IntYearofSoils HBRCColourLogo70mm

When Neanderthals and modern humans (and Denisovans) met

AllanWilsonSeries2015

Tom Higham, Prof. Archaeological Science, University of Oxford

Thursday, 17 September 2015 from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
NOTE CHANGE OF TIME
Napier venue: Century Theatre, MTG, Herschell St, Napier

The Hawke’s Bay Branch of the Royal Society is delighted to be included in the Allan Wilson Centre’s 2015 International Lecture Series.

BOOKINGS:
To ensure a seat, go to:
www.allanwilsoncentre.ac.nz click ‘Register Online’ under ‘Events’.

Tom Higham will discuss the period from 60,000 to 30,000 years ago, which saw the final dispersal of moderns out of Africa, colonising the Old World and Australia, and the disappearance of Neanderthals from the areas they had occupied for 200,000 years. We now know through ancient DNA research that ancient modern humans and Neanderthals probably interbred prior to the wider dispersal of modern people.

TomTimHigham is the Deputy Director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, administers the Unit’s archaeological dating programmes and is secretary to the NERC – AHRC National Radiocarbon Facility advisory panel.

His research interests revolve around archaeological dating using AMS, radiocarbon AMS dating of bone, the chronology of the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic of Europe, reservoir effects in 14C, the application of Bayesian calibration methods to archaeological dating, dating novel sample types and sample pretreatment chemistry.