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lördag 21 april 2012

CAnMove Collaborators elevated to FRSes

In Great Britain being elected an FRS (Fellow of the Royal Society) is considered as one of the finest recognitions of scientific excellence. Two long-term collaborators with CanMove Scientists have now received this distinction, namely Professors Alasdair I Houston and John McNamara. John lectured at the PhD course in Animal Migration as late as last October (2011), and Alasdair has lectured on Theoretical Ecology in Lund, as well as having acted as faculty opponent during theses defense. The Royal Society gave the following motivation for electing John and Alasdair:

"Houston, together with McNamara, pioneered, developed and formalized the dynamic optimization approach to behavioural ecology, and has applied it widely, generating fundamental insights. Currently the gold standard for modelling state/time dependency in animal behaviour from the perspective of the selective forces that act in nature, their approach uses stochastic dynamic programming to find the strategies that maximise inclusive fitness. Their work is now an obligate reference in domains as far apart as temporal organization of daily routines, sexual selection, migration, risk sensitivity, dynamic games, and fat levels. Behavioural ecology would not have its present form without their outstanding contribution. "

We congratulate them both and look forward to future interaction and collaboration!

fredag 20 april 2012

Assisted dispersal to the last continent?

K. quadrata
Small (µm –mm scale) aquatic organisms rarely have strong enough morphological features to actively migrate over long distances. Despite this many taxa occur almost everywhere on Earth and the expression “everything is everywhere” has been used regarding these small creatures. During an expedition to one of the most hostile and isolated freshwater systems on Earth, the Dry Valley Lakes in Antarctica, we did, however, not expect a high biodiversity regarding, for example, rotifers and crustacean zooplankton, due to biogeographical borders (salt water oceans). We were therefore very, very surprised when finding, not only the endemic species previously recorded, but also several cosmopolitan species and thereby the highest biodiversity with respect to rotifers ever recorded on the Antarctic mainland! Some of these species, such as Keratella cochlearis and K. quadrata (upper photo)can be found in any pond or lake, even the one outside the Ecology Building in Lund! A plausible question is therefore: how did they come to the Dry Valley lakes? Although we can only speculate, which we do in a recent paper published in Antarctic Science (for a pdf), a likely explanation is that, despite strong restrictions, those animals have unintentionally been brought to the Dry Valleys by the few scientists that have got permission to work there. We can also speculate regarding that this “assisted dispersal” has occurred probably more than ten years ago, since several of the rotifers show relatively high population densities, but probably after the mid-1980ties, since sampling at that time did not register those cosmopolitan species. Although in this case we can only guess regarding the processes, it is likely that small organisms may have a lot of assistance in their dispersal by larger animals, including humans, even to very remote regions. In addition to this surprising dispersal and high biodiversity, we are also proud to show a photo of the most Sothern copepod ever recorded. Hence, we can also extend the southern border of dispersal for Boeckella sp. to 77oS (photo below)! 

//Lars-Anders Hansson