Ecology Live

Join us every Thursday for our free online seminar series, Ecology Live!

Ecology Live: A new series of online seminars

The British Ecological Society is broadcasting free online talks on the latest ecological research during the coronavirus lockdown period.

Join us for online seminars from a top ecologist every Thursday at 15:00 BST / 10:00 ET / 22:00 SGT.

In the next talk in the series on 13 Aug, Maydianne Andrade of the University of Toronto explains how black widow spiders and their extreme mating behaviours can help us explore the evolution of plasticity (flexibility in trait expression).

Ecology Live allows scientists to remain connected to new ideas and discoveries while working from home. The talks are aimed at anyone with an interest in the latest research in ecology and its applications, from undergraduates to working ecologists and research leaders.

The talks take place on Zoom. You need to register and use the Zoom app or desktop client to join the talk, and accept their terms and conditions and privacy policy.

Or you can catch up later on our Youtube channel.

Register here

Scheduled talks

  • Thu 13 Aug Maydianne Andrade, University of Toronto
    Through a web, darkly: Widows as windows on plasticity
    I am interested in the evolution of flexibility in trait expression (plasticity) as a function of variation in ecological challenges. Understanding how plasticity evolves can be central to understanding a range of phenomena, including invasiveness, species persistence under environmental change and diversification. In my lab, one focus is testing hypotheses about adaptive plasticity driven by the links between sexual selection and demographic context. We use (black) Widow spiders (genus Latrodectus) as models in this work because their extreme mating behaviours can simplify predictions about plasticity. In some species, risky mate searching, sexual cannibalism, self-sacrifice and genital damage during copulation limit males to a short lifespan and a single mating. This creates a narrow window of opportunity for reproductive success, and generates discrete predictions about the evolution of links between local ecological context and the development of male traits. I will discuss some of this work using extensive variation in male body size as a case study.
  • Thu 20 Aug* Alexandra Harmon-Threatt, University of Illinois
    Conserving native bees is a dirty business
    Over 80% of native bees nest belowground. In order to conserve them we may need to start looking past their association with beautiful flowers and toward their associations with the soil beneath our feet. I will explore the important but overlooked role of soil in bee conservation and highlight areas for future research and exploration.
  • Thu 27 Aug* Adam Algar, University of Nottingham
    Cold blood in a hot world
    On a tiny island in the Caribbean, a small lizard seeks shelter from the beating sun underneath a palm frond, while in a gap in Canada’s boreal forest, a butterfly lazily stretches out its wings in the summer sunshine. No matter where they live, the lives of ‘cold-blooded’ species are a never-ending thermal balancing act, where tipping too far to the warm or cold can have deadly consequences. I will explore the effects of climate change on this temperature tightrope, combining ecological field work, biophysical modelling and remote-sensing technologies to understand how the thermal choices of individual animals scale to influence global macroecological patterns.
  • Thu 3 Sep Douglas W. Yu, University of East Anglia and Kunming Institute of Zoology
    Managing biodiversity with eDNA:  salmon, leeches, insects, ponds and forests
    It is a truism in management that you only get what you measure. Biodiversity is exceedingly difficult to measure, especially in ways that are repeatable and third-party verifiable. An exciting innovation is the use of bulk-sample and environmental DNA to measure biodiversity. I will describe some new examples: counting salmon with water samples, detecting wildlife (and their viruses) with mass-collected leeches and using the combination of ‘sequencers + satellites + statistics’ to map biodiversity over whole landscapes.

*Note change in date from that originally advertised.

Previous talks on Youtube

Ecology Live programming group

Marc Cadote, University of Toronto
Jane Hill, University of York
Pete Manning, Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre