All future 2013 events

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A tale of paintbrushes, party drugs, cannibalism and obesity   View Summary
23 January 2013

Join us for this special lecture by Professor Stephen Simpson as part of the 50th birthday celebrations for the School of Biological Sciences.

Professor Stephen Simpson will talk about the link between locusts and human obesity
Professor Stephen Simpson will talk about the link between locusts and human obesity

Locust plagues are one of the most infamous insect scourges, affecting the lives of one in 10 people on the planet. But they have also provided important new clues into the causes of human obesity, how we age and the complex behaviour of crowds.

Professor Stephen Simpson takes us on a strange journey that begins in the midst of a locust swarm and ends with the human obesity epidemic. Along the way you will see what you can discover by ticking a locust's leg with a paintbrush, how recreational drugs turn shy solitary locusts into swarming party animals, how aircraft are being used to track swarms, the sinister role played by cannibalism in locust swarms and how a powerful appetite for protein can explain not only locust mass marching but also human obesity and ageing.

The herbivore's dilemma: to eat or be eaten   View Summary
20 February 2013

Join us for this special lecture by Dr Clare McArthur as part of the 50th birthday celebrations for the School of Biological Sciences.

As Ulysses sails home, he is confronted with many perils. Negotiate poorly and he is either attacked by Scylla, the six-headed monster, or drowned in the swirling whirlpools of Charybdis. Like Ulysses, herbivores must negotiate their own perils — and not just once, but every time they go out for a meal. On one hand, they may be poisoned by the plants they eat, and on the other, they may themselves be eaten by predators; provoking the never-ending daily dilemma of what to eat without being eaten.

Night vision of a bushbaby contemplating the risks of a meal
Night vision of a bushbaby contemplating the risks of a meal

Using captive and free-ranging leaf-eaters (Australian brushtail possums) and free-ranging fruit-eaters (African thick-tailed bushbabies), Associate Professor Clare McArthur will demonstrate how these animals solve the foraging dilemma by changing their behaviour and use of food patches in response to the interplay between toxin concentration and patch safety. You will be surprised at how the animals detect, quantify and compare the costs of food and fear and, by manipulating the quality of food patches, Clare can pinpoint where the animals consider the two costs to be equal.

Finally, you will see how the personality of individual animals may shift the foraging balance between food and fear, with implications not just for individuals, but for ecological populations and communities.

Semester 1, 2013 Honours Introductory Seminar   View Summary
1 March 2013

Please join us to hear our semester 1 honours students give their introductory seminars on March 1st.

Hear the latest cohort of students share their plans for 2013 before joining us for refreshments. Whether you're a weather-beaten old Professor or a bright-eyed undergrad, there's something for everyone.

All welcome.

1.30-1.42pm Sarah Beaumont - Dieter Hochuli
Does time heal all wounds? Determining the long-term trajectory of urban restoration efforts in the Cumberland Plain Woodland

1.42-1:54pm Alicia Boyd - Peter McGee & Thomas Tendo Mukasa Mugerwa
Impacts of melanitic endophytic fungi and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi on soil aggregation and carbon sequestration

1.54-2.06pm Zoe Britton-Harper - Robyn Overall
Plasmodesmata: pitfalls in pit fields

2.06-2.18pm Ireni Clarke - Mathieu Lihoreau & Steve Simpson
Collective nutrition in Drosophila and the influence of genetic group composition

2.18-2.30pm Jordan Krucler - Clare McArthur & Peter Banks
Possum personality traits: comparative methodologies and links to habitat use

2.30-2.50pm Afternoon Tea

2.50-3.02pm Ashley Montagu - Nate Lo & Ben Oldroyd
Pleometrosis in the Termite Species Nasutitermes exitiosus: Genetic Polyethism and Conflicts in Reproduction

3.02-3.14pm Alexandra Richardson - Fiona Clissold & Steve Simpson
Linking morphometrics of grasshopper mandibles with functional outcomes

3.14-3.26pm Amelia Saul - Peter Banks & Charlotte Taylor
Aliens replacing natives: are black rats effective substitutes for extinct mammalian pollinators?

3.26-3.38pm Jun Tong - Nate Lo, Dieter Hochuli & Simon Ho
Digging deep: charting the evolution of soil and wood burrowing cockroaches

3.40pm Please join us for refreshments

Defence and the Dark Arts: plants fight back in glowing colours   View Summary
6 March 2013

Join us for this special lecture by Professor Peter Waterhouse as part of the 50th birthday celebrations for the School of Biological Sciences. This is also your last chance to see the exhibition before it closes on Friday 8th March.

Professor Peter Waterhouse gives the final lecture in the 50th birthday series
Professor Peter Waterhouse gives the final lecture in the 50th birthday series

Semester 2, 2012 Honours Final Seminar   View Summary
14 March 2013

So what's it all come to? Please join us to hear our semester 2 Honours students give their final seminars on March 14.

Hear them outline their results and what they mean before joining us for refreshments afterwards.

Download book of abstracts

All welcome.

Chairs - Dieter Hochuli & Simon Ho

1.30pm Welcome -Dieter Hochuli (Co-Chair)

1.35-1.50pm Samantha McCann -M.Greenlees / R.Shine
Thermal tolerance and micro habitat use of cane toads (Rhinella marina) in Northern NSW

1.50-2.05pm Jessie McKenna -M.Thompson / K.Belov
Linking embryo survival and cancer susceptibility: using skinks to investigate angiogenesis

2.05-2.20pm Katherine Roth -B.Oldroyd / M.Beekman
The evolution of eusociality and the Reproductive Ground Plan hypothesis

2.20-2.35pm Rachel Tucker -B.Oldroyd / T. Latty / M.Duncan (UWS)
Usurping the throne: Developing a trap forApis mellifera queens

2.35-2.50pm Stuart Foggo -C.Taylor / R.Major (Aus. Museum)
Patterns in agonistic behaviour of the Noisy Miner (Manorina melanocephala)

2.50-3.05pm Charles Foster-S.Ho / B.Conn / M.Henwood
Systematic relationships within Logania (Loganiaceae): how do they relate to the geological history of Australia?

3.05-3.20pm Dan Watts -D.Hochuli
The effect of artificial night lighting on the ecology of nocturnal insects

3.20-3.40pm Afternoon Tea

3.40-3.55pm Ryan Leonard -D. Hochuli & C. McArthur
Another one bites the dust - the effects of wind and dust on plant-animal interactions

3.55-4.10pm Claire MacAlpine -D.Hochuli / S.Wilder
How floral traits affect host choice in crab spiders and their prey

4.10-4.25pm Song-Hee Schumacher -A.Ward / R.Coleman
Fishing for information: Investigating learning and information use in social groups of mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki)

4.25-4.40pm Jesse Hawley -S.Wilder / S.Simpson
Flesh flies killed by protein: the influence of diet on the longevity and fecundity of acarnivore

4.40-4.55pm Emma Spencer -M.Crowther / C.Dickman
Predation risk and its effect on the foraging behaviour and habitat usage of desert rodents in the Simpson Desert, Queensland

4.55-5.10pmSteven Hawes -W.Figuera
Modelling tropical-temperate connectivity of marine fish: evaluating larval sources and the importance of biophysical transport processes

5.10pm Refreshments

School seminar series: Cooperative breeding: long-term studies in the time of twitter   View Summary
15 March 2013

Andrew Cockburn (Division of Evolution, Ecology & Genetics, Research School of Biology, The Australian National University)

Cooperative breeding, where more than two individuals combine to rear a single brood ofoffspring, is one of the major problems of evolutionary biology, as some carers must be provisioning offspring that are not their own. Cooperative breeding has evolved hundreds of times in birds, and has been investigated with many of the most intense long-term studies of any wild organisms. This seminar will probe two unresolved problems and a unique opportunity that emerges from these studies. The first problem is why has an 'ecological' predictor for cooperative breeding has remained so elusive. Second, I will show that sexual conflict is a common consequence of the evolution of cooperative breeding, necessitating theory that explains how these societies often remain extremely stable despite such conflict. I will then demonstrate how the unique data sets that emerge from the study of cooperative breeding afford unique opportunities to probe other important theoretical questions in evolutionary ecology. I willillustrate this opportunity by describing how massive pedigrees of superb fairy-wrens can be used to illuminate the troubling question of how geneticvariation can resist depletion when females impose strong selection throughmate choice, and how this leads to a new theory of how condition-dependence and sexual signalling interact.

Followed by lunch at the Grandstand - please let Shawn know if you wish to come along

School seminar series: The causes and consequences of variation in dispersal distance   View Summary
22 March 2013

Winsor H. Lowe, Associate Professor, Division of Biological Sciences, The University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812, USA
Visiting Associate Professor, Australian Rivers Institute, Griffith University, Nathan, Queensland 4111, AU

Dispersal is a fundamental process in population biology, ecology, and evolution. In most species, dispersal distributions are characterized by many individuals that remain close to their origin and large variation in the distances moved by those that leave. Darwin saw that long-distance dispersal played a key role in range expansion, and models show that dispersal distance can strongly affect population and community dynamics. But despite these wide-ranging implications, we have little understanding of how variation in dispersal distance is maintained in natural populations and, more specifically, the fitness consequences of long-distance dispersal. My research uses a stream salamander system to address these gaps in our understanding of the proximal causes and consequences of variation in dispersal distance. This work does not support the widely held view that fitness consequences of long-distance dispersal are unpredictable, and instead suggests that consistent evolutionary mechanisms may explain the prevalence of long-distance dispersal in nature.

Followed by lunch at the Grandstand ($5 students, $10 staff) - please RSVP to Shawn by 5pm Thursday if you wish to come along

School seminar series: Multiple functions of hibernation and daily torpor   View Summary
12 April 2013

Fritz Geiser (Centre for Behavioural and Physiological Ecology, Zoology, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.

Although energy conservation by cold-climate adult endotherms in winter is often viewed as the main function of torpor, recent evidence suggests that this may not always be the case and other functions of torpor may be equally or even more important in some instances. Daily torpor and hibernation, which are used by mammals and birds from all climate zones, permit prolonged female sperm storage in bats, allow reproduction with limited or fluctuating food supply, and delay parturition until more favourable periods. Torpor appears to increase the efficiency of energy and nutrient use during development and also enhances fat storage during migration. Further, torpor reduces water requirements, appears to ensure persistence during droughts, permits co-existence of competing species, and also reduces the risk of predation and mammalian extinctions. Thus, the functions of torpor are diverse and go well beyond energy conservation in winter.

Followed by lunch at the Grandstand ($5 students, $10 staff) - please RSVP to Shawn by 5pm Thursday if you wish to come along

School seminar series: The cognitive dimension of insect social behaviour   View Summary
19 April 2013

Dr Mathieu Lihoreau, Postdoctoral Researcher, School of Biological Sciences and the Charles Perkins Centre, The University of Sydney.

Attempts to explain the origins of primate intelligence suggest that the computational demands of living in social groups require larger brains with enhanced cognitive capacities. Whether such reasoning can apply to all social animals is an open question. I'll discuss these evolutionary relationships in insects based on data about how bees solve factorial problems and flies build consensus with a brain the size of a pinhead.

Followed by lunch at the Grandstand ($5 students, $10 staff) - please RSVP to Shawn by 5pm Thursday if you wish to come along

School seminar series: Mutation, selection, and evolution   View Summary
26 April 2013

Presented by Dr Katrina McGuigan, School of Biological Science, The University of Queensland

Many different traits appear to be under selection, and all appear to have ample genetic variation. However, if variation in these traits contributed independently to fitness, and if mutations independently affected each trait, fitness would be implausibly low, and the mutation rate implausibly high. Theories exploring the evolution ofgenetic variation predict that standing genetic variation will be predominantly composed of low frequency alleles with deleterious pleiotropic effects on fitness. These theoretical expectations are consistent with different types of evidence, and have broad implications for understanding the targets of selection in natural populations. In this talk I will present data from experiments in the native vinegar fly, Drosophila serrata, exploring the effects of selection and mutation on genetic variation, and on the evolution of traits.

Followed by lunch at the Grandstand ($5 students, $10 staff) - please RSVP to Frank Seebacher by 5pm Thursday if you wish to come along (

School seminar series: Epigenetics, environment, and evolution   View Summary
3 May 2013
Presented by A/Prof. Catherine Suter, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute
Keast Lecture: Beauty and the beast - the evolutionary ecology of male reproductive antics   View Summary
10 May 2013

Dr Bob Wong (Biological Sciences, Monash University) presents the 2013 Keast Lecture.

Dr Bob Wong, Keast lecturer for 2013.
Dr Bob Wong, Keast lecturer for 2013.

The reproductive interests of males and females rarely coincide. The idea of reproduction as a cooperative and harmonious venture between the sexes is a fallacy - the animal world is, in fact, rife with sexual conflict. So how does this conflict play out when it comes to finding a suitable mate?

Traditionally, males are thought to maximise their reproductive pay offs by mating with as many females as possible. Indeed, in most species, males will compete vehemently with each other for access to mating opportunities. For females, however, it's more a case of quality rather than quantity, with evidence suggesting that females maximise their reproductive success by being selective over their choice of mating partners.

Both mechanisms - male competition and female mate choice - underpin sexual selection, the process first proposed by Charles Darwin to explain the evolution of elaborate secondary sexual traits, such as the beautiful plumes of the male bird of paradise and the claw waving antics of the fiddler crab.

So how do the two processes of sexual selection operate in practice? Are the biggest and most dominant males the best suitors for choosy females (as Darwin himself had originally surmised)? And are males as permissive when it comes to sex as traditionally thought? This talk will provide answers by drawing on recent insights into male reproductive strategies from the sexual selection literature.

School seminar series: The coevolution of fig trees, pollinators and parasitoids   View Summary
17 May 2013

Presented by Prof. James Cook, Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, UWS (Host: A/Prof. Dieter Hochuli).

Symbiosis - the intimate ‘living together’ of different species - plays a huge role in both evolutionary innovation (e.g. the origin of plants) and ecosystem function (e.g. nitrogen fixation). Symbiosis is very common in nature and intimately interacting species are likely to influence each other strongly in terms of both adaptation and speciation. Many host-symbiont interactions are antagonistic, but others are mutualisms in which both partners derive benefits. A classic case involves fig trees, which provide a year-round supply of fruit to diverse animals, from tiny insects to bats, birds and elephants. This ecosystem function relies on an obligate pollination mutualism between fig plants and tiny fig wasps. I will discuss the origin and patterns of speciation in figs and fig wasps during their radiation to produce >750 species pairs spread across all tropical continents. This research supports substantial long-term co-speciation, but also additional modes of speciation in the wasps. I will also describe how the intricate symbiosis with fig trees has influenced genome evolution in the pollinators. I will then present a striking pattern of coadaptation between the pollination behavior of the wasps and floral sex ratio in the figs. Finally, I will consider how climate change impacts upon this intricate symbiosis, both in terms of immediate ecological population dynamics, and longer-term adaptation and speciation.

Special seminar by Dr Raymond J. Ritchie   View Summary
20 May 2013

The Use of Solar Radiation by a Photosynthetic Bacterium Living as a Mat or in a Shallow Pond or Flatbed Reactor.

Presented by Dr Raymond J. RITCHIE

Tropical Plant Biology, Faculty of Technology and Environment, Prince of Songkla University Phuket Campus, Kathu, Phuket 83120 Thailand

School seminar series: Marine fish nurseries - baby paradise or Hobson's choice?   View Summary
24 May 2013

Presented by A/Prof. Ivan Nagelkerken, Marine Biology, University of Adelaide.

Various animal species show a stage-structured life cycle where individuals occupy spatially separated juvenile and adult habitats during different life phases. In the marine seascape one such example is that of fish species which use mangrove and seagrass habitats as juvenile nurseries and live as adults on coral reefs. While the appreciation for this phenomenon has increased significantly over the last two decades, empirical data that provide an understanding of the underlying mechanisms are still largely lacking. We still know little about the way in which settlement-stage oceanic fish larvae locate and navigate towards inshore nursery habitats, the costs and benefits of such a life-history strategy, what triggers movement from nurseries to the adult habitat, and the degree to which these fish replenish adult populations and colonize distantreefs. The latter has important consequences for management of fish stocks and marine reserve design. During this presentation, recent advances in this field will be presented, based on a variety of laboratory and field experiments using a range of research methods (e.g., habitat choice experiments, stable isotopes, modeling). In contrast to the general belief, use of specific nursery habitats is based on trade-offs between various life history traits. Nevertheless, maintenance of ecosystem connectivity is important for successful replenishment of populations of a variety of economically and ecologically important species and can enhance the functioning, productibility, and resilience of coastal marine ecosystems.

School seminar series: Reading macroevolutionary patterns from molecular phylogenies   View Summary
31 May 2013

Presented by Prof. Lindell Bromham, Research School of Biology, ANU (Host: A/Prof. Simon Ho)

The term "macroevolution" is generally used to describe changing patterns of biodiversity over time, space or lineages, as opposed to microevolution which focuses on changing allele frequencies in populations. The debate over whether macroevolutionary patterns lead to inference of mechanisms that cannot be explained by microevolutionary processes has been simmering for at least 150 years. Discussions of macroevolution have lately been reinvigorated by the study of patterns of diversity from molecular phylogenies. The beauty of molecular phylogenetic analyses is that they provide a way of examining genome-level, population-level and lineage-level patterns in a single analysis. I will illustrate this approach to using molecular phylogenies in macroevolutionary studies with three examples: the relationship between molecular change and diversification; rates of molecular evolution in parasites; and the evolution of salt tolerance in grasses.

Everybody welcome! Contact Simon Ho if you wish to attend the lunch

School seminar series: Adventures in nutrient space   View Summary
7 June 2013

Presented by Prof. David Raubenheimer, School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Science, and Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney.

At face value, the challenge of eating sensibly is relatively straightforward: put enough of the right foods in your mouth and you've done the job. But scratch the surface, even lightly, and you will unearth a staggeringly complex tangle of interrelated questions. What, for example, are the right foods, and why these and not others? How much is enough of each, and how does this change with recent eating experiences and with other circumstances? How can you minimise the consequences of eating the wrong foods or too little or too much of the right foods? Such problems are solved on a daily basis by animals from insects to humans, but big challenges remain for researchers to understand how this done. In this seminar I will introduce a simple geometric device, the nutrient space, which has been invented as an aid to dealing with the complexities of nutrition. After discussing the basic concepts surrounding the nutrient space, I will provide "proof of concept" from tightly controlled laboratory experiments. Using studies of wild baboons, giant pandas, spider monkeys and mountain gorillas, I will then demonstrate that the nutrient space concept can help us to understand foraging not only in the lab, but also in the much more challenging setting of the field. Along the way I will show that the nutrient space can also help to understand the bizarre nutritional ecology of our own species.

Postgraduate Showcase   View Summary
13 June 2013

Join us for this important event on the School's calendar, which showcases the abundant talent of the School's postgraduates. This is a great opportunity for you to interact with our Postgraduate students and learn about the wide range of projects they are researching.

Download abstracts

Co-Chairs Dr  Matthew Greenlees, Dr  Camilla Whittington & Dr James Van Dyke

9.30am - 10.00am Registration

10.00am Welcome by  Associate Professor Peter Banks

10.05am Daej Arab
Australian Nasutitermitinae Phylogenetics and Evolution

10.25am Kerrie Bennison
Dingoes in arid Australia - good, bad or indifferent? Research to guide vertebrate pest and fauna management in semi-arid national parks

10.45am Joshua Christie
Biting the hand that feeds: genomic conflict in the acellular slime mould Physarum polycephalum

11.05am Morning tea

11.25am Steve Doo
The role of large benthic foraminifera in a changing ocean at One Tree Reef

11.45am Natasha  Hardy
Apex predators and marine community dynamics: interactions between Australian Fur Seals (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus) and marine parks in SE Australia

12.05am Christopher Hellyer
The Ecology and Population Dynamics of the Pipi, Donax deltoides

12.25 Lunch

1.15pm Rebecca Morris
Ecologically engineering seawalls using 'flower pots' to increase biodiversity

1.35pm Daniel Natusch
Resource use by snakes in Cape York Peninsula

1.55pm Lucy Taylor
Nature, who needs it? How urban animal and plant life affects human wellbeing

2.15pm Melinda  Wilson
The influence of bushfire on the hunting behaviour of dingoes, cats and foxes in central Australia


2.40pm Poster presentations by 2nd years


3.40pm Refreshments




School seminar series: Plant cell walls   View Summary
9 August 2013

Biosynthesis and role as cell surface sensors during development

Professor Tony Bacic graduated his BSc Hons from James Cook University of Nth Queensland in 1975. He moved to Melbourne to attend LaTrobe University where he was awarded his PhD in 1980 under the supervision of the late Prof Bruce A Stone.

Professor Bacic currently holds a Personal Chair in the School of Botany at the University of Melbourne and is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences (FAA). Professor Tony Bacic is Director of the Bio21 Molecular Science and Biotechnology Institute, The University of Melbourne. Appointed in October 2009 to December 2014, Professor Bacic previously held the position of Interim Director since January 2008.

He leads the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls team at the University of Melbourne and is Deputy Director of that Centre. He is Director of the Plant Cell Biology Research Centre at the School of Botany, is Platform Convenor of the NCRIS-funded, Metabolomics Australia, and he is on the Management Committee of Bioplatforms Australia Ltd.

Internationally recognized as an Australian leader in plant biotechnology his research is focused on the structure, function and biosynthesis of plant cell walls and their biotechnological application as well as the application of functional genomics tools in biological systems.

School seminar series: Biological stoichiometry of nutrient limitation in ecology and evolution   View Summary
13 August 2013

Prof. Jim Elser, School of Life Sciences, University of Arizona

(Host: Arianne Cease)

Biological stoichiometry is the study of the balance of energy and multiple chemical elements in living systems. This talk will introduce some of the basic principles of stoichiometric theory and apply them to understanding the occurrence and impact of nutrient limitation in ecological and evolutionary settings using examples from both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Finally, the talk will deal with how nutrient limitation might itself shape the long-term sustainability of human society, focusing on issues related to phosphorus and its role in agriculture and water quality.

School seminar series: Explorations of a 'simple' olfactory system   View Summary
16 August 2013

Prof. John Hildebrand, Department of Neuroscience, University of Arizona

Murray Lecture: Carbon Copies - Inheritance of the human genome   View Summary
21 August 2013

Professor Bruce Stillman (President of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, USA) presents the 2013 Murray Lecture. This lecture forms part of the Faculty of Science's Sydney Science Forum.

Dr Bruce Stillman, President of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, will deliver the 2013 Murray lecture.
Dr Bruce Stillman, President of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, will deliver the 2013 Murray lecture.

We take it for granted that our DNA replicates normally in our cells every day, but when these processes go wrong in our body's cells we can end up with abnormal cells, the wrong rate of cell replacement and even cancer. When DNA replication goes wrong in a developing baby, it can cause primordial dwarfism, microcephaly or a small brain.

In the annual Murray Lecture, Professor Bruce Stillman, President of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, will discuss how the human genome is copied and inherited each time a cell divides. Professor Stillman's research has elucidated the mechanism of how a cycle of copying the DNA double helix is initiated and how it is coordinated with chromosome segregation during mitosis - when a normal body cell segregates its chromosomes to form two identical body cells.

Delve deep into your cells and find out how important DNA replication is to you every day.

Registration essentialhere.

Semester 2, 2013 Honours Introductory Seminar   View Summary
22 August 2013

Please join us to hear our semester 2 Honours/GD students give their introductory seminars.

Hear the latest cohort of students share their plans for 2013/2014 before joining us for refreshments. Whether you're a weather-beaten old Professor or a bright-eyed undergrad, there's something for everyone.

All welcome.

Download abstracts

1.30pm Welcome - Dieter Hochuli - Honours/GD Committee Chair

1.32-1.44pm Gregory Clarke - Rick Shine & Michael Crossland
Tadpole warfare: using intraspecific chemical suppression to control the invasive cane toad (Rhinella marina)

1.44-1.56pm Charlotte Fletcher - Peter Banks & Bradley Law (DPI)
Competitive Interactions of Microbats in Urban Sydney

1.56-2.08pm Lauri Hopkins - Murray Henwood, Barry Conn & Trevor Wilson
The molecular systematic of Physopsis, Newcastelia and Lachnostachys (Chloantheae: Lamiaceae)

2.08-2.20pm Casey Jessop - Osu Lilje, Jodi Rowley (Aus Museum) & Frank Gleason
Understanding the pathogenicity of isolated filamentous microbial pathogens on several species of fish during egg and embryo development

2.20-2.32pm Christopher Jolly - Matthew Greenlees & Rick Shine
Alien vs. Predator: Ecological impacts of cane toads on native predators in northeastern New South Wales

2.32-2.44pm Margot Law - Dieter Hochuli & Clare McArthur
Trees under pressure: disruptions to insect-plant interactions along an urban gradient

2.44 - 3.10pm Afternoon Tea

3.10-3.22pm Elissa McFarlane - Mathew Crowther, Clare McArthur & Daniel Lunney (EOH)
Quantifying landscape ecology for koalas on the Liverpool Plains, north-western New South Wales

3.22-3.44pm Felicity Nelson - Rick Shine & Gregory Brown
Parasites lost: a tale of cane toads, native frogs and lungworms

3.44-3.56pm Kaitlyn Preece - Madeleine Beekman
Dance this way - the evolution of the honey bee waggle dance and its role in pollen foraging

3.56-4.08pm Douglas Roy - Ashley Ward
Conditioning of Motivational, Emotional, and Attentional Processes in Teleosts

4.08-4.20pm Lakshmi Sunderasan - Clare McArthur & Peter Banks
Possums, problems and personality: How do individuals respond to novel situations and challenges in their environment?

4.20-4.32pm Pamela Wong - Osu Lilje, Peter McGee, Dennis Dwarte (ACMM) & Floris van Ogtrop
Foraging, colonisation and resource utilisation by filamentous fungi

Please join us for refreshments at the conclusion of the seminar

School seminar series: Nutritional immunology: A multidimensional approach   View Summary
23 August 2013

Dr. Fleur Ponton, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Sydney

Nutrition is critical to immune defence and resistance to pathogens, with consequences that affect not only the health, welfare and reproductive success of individual organisms, but also have profound ecological and evolutionary implications. My research focuses in better understanding the network of interactions that define the relationships between nutrition, immune function, infection, and microbiota to provide a more comprehensive and robust understanding of the key determinants of the outcome of host-pathogeninteractions.

School seminar series: Seriously weird stuff in South African honeybees   View Summary
30 August 2013

Social cancers, paternal imprinting, genome elimination

On the southern tip of South Africa there dwells a little black honey bee called Apis mellifera capensis. It's not nearly so fierce as its yellow cousin to the north, the infamous 'killer bee' (Apis mellifera scutellata), but it is none the less extraordinary in its own way. Unlike all other honey bees, when an unmated worker lays an unfertilised egg it develops not as a male, but as a female, a clone of its mother. This provides workers with extraordinary opportunities for reproductive cheating, which they do with alacrity. It also provides researchers with the opportunity to study some remarkable evolutionary phenomenon. I will discuss three of them. 1) Reciprocal crosses between A. m. scutellata and A. m. capensis suggest that Capensis males epigenetically modify their sperm to increase the size and reproductive capacity of their worker offspring. 2) A clonal lineage of Capensis workers that has infested the beekeeping industry for over 20 years has retained heterozygosity without sex. This lineage provides the opportunity to answer a controversial question in evolutionary biology: why is fitness so often correlated with heterozygosity? 3) Is the foraging behaviour of modern social insects controlled by the same gene network that once regulated the reproductive cycle of solitary insects?

Staff Training Needs Analysis   View Summary
31 August 2013

What training do you need to be safe at work?

This August, the School Safety Committee is focussing on Training Needs Analysis. By the end of the month, each work group will need to have submitted a plan.

Face-to-face training courses are available through CareerPath. These include training for staff who act as local emergency personnel and targeted sessions for staff and research students working with chemicals, biological agents or radiation. Plan your health and safety training now!

School seminar series: The evolution of viviparity and ecotoxicological effects on reproduction   View Summary
6 September 2013

Adventures in basic and applied science

Dr. James Van Dyke, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Sydney

School seminar series: Fossils, faeces and forensics   View Summary
13 September 2013

The many and varied applications of next generation sequencing

A/Prof. Mike Bunce, School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University

(Host: A/Prof. Simon Ho)

Semester 1, 2013 Honours Final Seminar   View Summary
19 September 2013

So what's it all come to? Please join us to hear our semester1 Honours students give their final seminars on September 19.

Hear them outline their results and what they mean before joining us for refreshments afterwards.

Download abstracts

All welcome

Chair:A/Prof Dieter Hochuli

1.30pm Welcome - A/Prof Dieter Hochuli

1.35-1.50pm Jun Kwei Tong - N. Lo, S. Ho & D. Hochuli
The evolution of Australian burrowing cockroaches

1.50-2.05pm Amelia Saul - P. Banks & C. Taylor
Aliens replacing natives: are black rats effective substitutes for extinct native mammalian pollinators?

2.05-2.20pm Zoe Britton-Harper - R. Overall & D. Barton
Intercellular communication in plants

2.20-2.35pm Ashley Montagu - N. Lo & B. Oldroyd
Polygyny and genetic influences on caste determination in Nasutitermes exitiosus

2.35-3.00pm Afternoon tea

3.00-3.15pm Jordan Krucler - C. McArthur & P. Banks
Possum personality traits: defining and linking tohabitat use

3.15-3.30pm Ireni Clarke - M. Lihoreau & S. Simpson
Genetic and social influences on nutritional choices in Drosophila

3.30-3.45pm Alexandra Richardson - F. Clissold & S. Simpson
Linking the morphometrics of grasshopper mandibles with functional outcomes

3.45-4.00pm Alicia Boyd - P. McGee & T. Mukasa Mugerwa
Examining the role of viral endosymbiosis and melanin production on heat tolerance of melanitic endophytic fungi from the genus Curvularia

4.00-4.15pm Sarah Beaumont - D. Hochuli
The slow road to partial recovery: diversity, function and invasion in revegetated urban woodland

4.15pm Please join us for refreshments

School seminar series:Community ecology theory as a framework for understanding biological invasions   View Summary
20 September 2013

Dr. Jane Catford, School of Botany, University of Melbourne & Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University & Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota

School seminar series: Genomics and evolution of male pregnancy in seahorses and pipefish   View Summary
27 September 2013

Dr. Camilla Whittington, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Sydney

30 September 2013

Before you buy - think safety!

Pre-Purchase Risk Assessments are September's Work Health Safety focus. Purchases are divided into broad categories based on relative potential for hazard. Each category has a checklist and actions required. Our focus will be mainly on hazardous chemical purchases. By the end of the month there will be a random audit to demonstrate documentation of the process.

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Considerations for before you buy

School safety information

School seminar series: On the energetics of personality   View Summary
11 October 2013

Insights from the comparative, artificial selection, and quantitative genetics approaches

Dr. Vincent Careau, School of Life and Environmental Science, Deakin University

School seminar series: Impacts of beach nourishment propagate up food webs   View Summary
18 October 2013

Dr. Melanie Bishop, Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University

Back to School - Annual Alumni Social   View Summary
18 October 2013

The School of Biological Sciences invites all alumni to its annual social...and lab class

Do you remember the fun of dissections? The thrill of peering down the microscope? The buzz you get from grasping a new idea? Re-live your University days and join us in the lab for the annual biology alumni social.

Take a class, refresh your knowledge, run an experiment and then relax with a beer. Bring along family and friends and share your experiences. Lab work is more fun when there are drinks at the end (and no exam)!

4:30-6:00pm Lab demonstrations and activities

5:30pm-7:00pm Drinks and nibbles

RSVP registrationessential at

'More Than Honey' film screening and forum   View Summary
24 October 2013
Co-presented with the Swiss Australian Academic Network (SAAN), the Consulate General of Switzerland, Sydney and the School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, the University of Sydney
School seminar series: Female strategies and the stress of having an unattractive partner   View Summary
25 October 2013

Dr Sarah Pryke, Research School of Biology, Australian National University

School seminar series: Drought, deluge and elevated CO2   View Summary
1 November 2013

A/Prof. Sally Power, Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, University of Western Sydney

Postgraduate Showcase   View Summary
7 November 2013

Join us for this important event on the School's calendar, which showcases the abundant talent of the School's postgraduates. This is a great opportunity for you to interact with our Postgraduate students and learn about the wide range of projects they are researching.

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Co-Chairs TBA

9.30am Welcome by Associate Professor Peter Banks (Postgraduate Coordinator)

9.35am - Announcement of the SoBS Postgraduate Excellence Prize - Professor Robyn Overall  

9.40am Prudence Fabian     Supervisors: P. Banks & C. McArthur
Identify factors influencing reintroduction success of the Natvie Bush Rat (Rattus fucipes) in the Sydney Harbour foreshore region: Does personality and sociality play a part?

10.00am Steven Hawes    Supervisors: W. Figueira & M. Byrne
Modelling tropical-temperate connectivity of reef fish: evaluating larval sources and the importance of biophysical transport processes.

10.20am Cameron Hudson     Supervisors: R. Shine & G. Brown
Phenotypic evolution in the invasive cane toad (Rhinella marina); adaptations for dispersal.

10.40am Frank (Fangzhi) Jia     Supervisors: S. Ho & N. Lo
The time-dependency of the hominoid mutation rate

11.00am Morning tea

11.20am Georgia Ward-Fear     Supervisors: R. Shine & G. Brown
Assessing the impacts of invasive cane toads on apex predators in tropical Australia.

11.40am Melanie Laird     Supervisors: M. Thompson, C. Murphy & B. McAllan
Unlocking amniote live birth: the 'other' mammalian model.

12.00pm Jodie Gruber     Supervisors: R. Shine & G. Brown
A mind for invasion: Cognition of the cane toad across its invasion range in Australia

12.20pm Peter McDonald     Supervisor: C. Dickman
Mammals on mountains: mammal refuges and predator ecology in the desert uplands of central Australia

12.40pm Kianoush Nikoumanesh     Supervisors: J. Saleeba & B. Jones
Root System Architecture in Arabidopsis thaliana: Contribution of three different genes.

1.00pm Lunch

1.40pm Eveline Rijksen     Supervisors: C. Dickman
Does predation pressure drive divergent behaviour in desert dragon lizards?

2.00pm Isobel Ronai     Supervisors: B. Oldroyd & P. Griffiths
Anarchy in the honey bee colony: the genetic basis of worker sterility.

2.20pm Umme Salma     Supervisor: F. Seebacher
Does hypoxia acclimation interact with other environmental variables to influence fish performance?

2.40pm Lauren Young     Supervisor: C. Dickman
Understanding the characteristics and role of refuges in the persistence of plains mice in arid landscapes.

3.00pm Hayley Mills     Supervisors: R. Coleman & M. Byrne
The feeding behaviour of Cirolana harfordi a non-indigenous isopod in Sydney Harbour.

3.20pm Poster presentations

3.50pm Refreshments