University of St Andrews
 
 
Sea Mammal Research Unit

The Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) provides impartial, independent and innovative science that has high relevance to society.

We carry out interdisciplinary research into the biology of marine mammals, train marine mammal scientists through undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and advise governments, non-governmental organizations and industry on conservation issues.


Events

  • CBD Seminar series: Hide and seek in the open ocean
    speaker: Dr Sönke Johnsen (Duke University)

    building: Harold Mitchell
    room: Dyers Brae seminar room
    see also: additional details
    host/contact: Dr Maria Dornelas

    Camouflage is exceptionally challenging in open ocean environments, due to their featureless nature. Thus, it is perhaps no surprise that species in the water column have evolved highly sophisticated cryptic strategies, three of which – transparency, mirrors, and bioluminescence – are rare or absent in all other habitats. The visual systems of their predators are equally complex, and several visual capabilities, including UV and polarization sensitivity and colored filters, are thought to facilitate detection of camouflaged animals. This article reviews the optical nature of the oceanic realm and both the camouflage and camouflage-breaking strategies of its inhabitants, focusing primarily on underlying principles and what remains to be discovered. A theme throughout is that far more is known about the optical and visual structures involved than about their function, and that this imbalance is primarily due to the rarity of observations of undisturbed behavior. 


    refID: 1398

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  • BSRC Seminar Series: Multiscale Molecular Simulations of the Hydride Transfer in the Monoamine Oxidase B Catalyzed Metabolism of Dopamine
    speaker: Professor Janez Mavri (National Institute of Chemistry, Slovenia)

    building: BMS
    room: Lecture Theatre
    see also: additional details
    host/contact: Dr Rona Ramsay

    Monoamine oxidase (MAO), which exists in two isozymic forms, MAO A and MAO B, is an important flavoenzyme responsible for the metabolism of biogenic amines such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. In this work, we present atomic details of the rate-limiting step of dopamine degradation by MAO B, which consists of the hydride transfer from the methylene group of the substrate to the flavin moiety of the enzyme. This contribution builds on our previous quantum chemical study of the same reaction using a cluster model, but now considering the full dimensionality of the hydrated enzyme. Well converged activation free energies were calculated by employing the empirical valence bond (EVB) approach of Warshel and coworkers. We show that the MAO B enzyme is specifically tuned to catalyze the hydride transfer step from the substrate to the FAD prosthetic group and that it lowers the activation barrier by 12.1 kcal/mol compared to the same reaction in aqueous solution, a rate enhancement of more than 8 orders of magnitude. The calculated barrier in the enzyme of 16.1 kcal/mol is in excellent agreement with the experimental value of 16.5 kcal/mol. Additionally, we demonstrate that the protonation state of the active site Lys296 does not have an effect on the reductive half reaction of the enzyme. Relevance of nuclear quantum effects for this enzyme will be given.

     


    refID: 1396

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  • Spatial distributions of woody plants in tropical forests - Alicia Ledo, University of Aberdeen
    speaker: Alicia Ledo ( University of Aberdeen)

    building: The Observatory
    room: Seminar Room
    see also: additional details
    host/contact: Dr Janine Illian

    The cloud forest is a special type of forest ecosystem that depends on suitable conditions of humidity and temperature to exist; hence, it is a very fragile ecosystem. The cloud forest is also one of the richest ecosystems in terms of species diversity and rate of endemism. However, today, it is one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world.

    Little is known about tree species distribution and coexistence among cloud forest trees. For this study, an analysis of woody plant species distribution at a small scale in a north-Peruvian Andean cloud forest was performed, and some of the factors implicated in the observed patterns were identified. Different factors were investigated: (i) intra-specific arrangements, (ii) heterospecific spatial relationships and (iii) relationships with external environmental factors. To do so, a point pattern analysis approach was mainly used, along with some multivariate statistical analysis. These analyses were conducted first on standing woody plants and then on seedlings.

    The woody plants were found to be clumped in the forest. However, each species presented a specific pattern and specific spatial relationship among different-age individuals. Dispersal mode, growth form and shade tolerance played roles in the final distribution of the species. Spatial associations among species, either positive or negative, were observed. These associations were more numerous when considering individuals of the interacting species at different developmental stages. Some species appear to prefer certain habitat conditions and avoid other habitats. Seedling distribution was also associated with habitat conditions. The position of conspecific adult individuals also affected seedling distribution. The results from this thesis suggest that different species can coexist within a given space, forming a “puzzle” of species as a result of the intra- and interspecific spatial relationships along with niche preferences and adaptations that operate at different scales. These factors not only affect each species in a different way, but specific preferences also vary throughout species' lifespans.


    refID: 1379

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  • CBD Seminar series: Designing incentives for biodiversity conservation
    speaker: Prof Nick Hanley (University of St Andrews, Geography and Sustainable Development)

    building: Harold Mitchell
    room: Dyers Brae seminar room
    see also: additional details
    host/contact: Dr Maria Dornelas

    refID: 1399

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  • BSRC Seminar Series: Genomes, genes and technology
    speaker: Prof Ed Southern, FRS (Oxford University, Professor of Biochemistry Emeritus) (Oxford University, Professor of Biochemistry Emeritus)

    building: MBS
    room: Lecture Theatre
    see also: additional details
    host/contact: Dr Silvia Paracchini

    The focus of this lecture will be discussing technology development for genomic and functional genomics analyses.

    In the mid-1970s, Ed Southern developed a technique for transferring DNA from gels onto nitrocellulose paper; the Southern blotting. It quickly became a widespread technique and provided a template for mapping the human genome. The following Northern and Western blotting procedures have made a huge impact on the study of genes and proteins, significantly advancing biomedical research.

    Later on, Ed made another crucial contribution with the development of microarray technology which allows parallelising large screening of biological material. Microarrays are widely used both in basic research as well as in clinical diagnostic settings.

    Ed Southern, who is a Fellow of the Royal Society, has received the Royal Medal of the Royal Society of London in 1998, was made a Knight Bachelor in the June 2003 and was awarded the Lasker Award in 2005. Currently, Ed Southern is the Founder, Chairman and Chief Science Advisor of Oxford Gene Technology.


    refID: 1386

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  • SOI seminar: Project overview on social associations, relatedness, and group level sound production of killer whales (Orcinus orca) in Iceland AND Effects of ecological scaling on biodiversity patterns
    speaker: Sara Tavares AND Laura Henriques Antao ()

    building: SOI
    room: Gatty Lecture theatre
    see also: additional details
    host/contact: Dr Dave Ferrier

    refID: 1390

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  • CBD Seminar series: Gender, Science and Myths of Merit
    speaker: Prof Marlene Zuk (University of Minnesota, College of Biological Sciences)

    building: Bute
    room: Lecture Theatre D
    see also: additional details
    host/contact: Dr Maria Dornelas

    refID: 1400

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  • SOI seminar: Prof Colin Brownlee, Marine Biology Association, Plymouth and The University of Southampton
    speaker: Prof Colin Brownlee (Marine Biology Association, Plymouth and The University of Southampton)

    building: SOI
    room: Gatty Lecture theatre
    see also: additional details
    host/contact: Dr Dave Ferrier

    refID: 1391

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  • SOI seminar: Biological influences on Sediment Dynamics: an interdisciplinary study. AND Carrying a tag, what a drag - Impacts of animal-borne sensors on swimming behaviour of seals.
    speaker: Julie Hope AND Chris McKnight ()

    building: SOI
    room: Gatty Lecture theatre
    see also: additional details
    host/contact: Dr Dave Ferrier

    refID: 1393

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  • SOI seminar: TBA
    speaker: Kalliopi-Charitomeni (Popi) Gkikopoulou AND Simon Dailey ()

    building: SOI
    room: Gatty Lecture theatre
    see also: additional details
    host/contact: Dr Dave Ferrier

    refID: 1394

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  • SOI seminar: What have we learnt about ocean acidification and what is the way forward?
    speaker: Prof Jean-Pierre Gattuso (Laboratoire d'Océanographie de Villefranche, France)

    building: SOI
    room: Gatty Lecture theatre
    see also: additional details
    host/contact: Dr Dave Ferrier

    refID: 1392

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  • BSRC Seminar Series: High-throughput decoding of drug-resistance and virulence mechanisms in African trypanosomes
    speaker: Prof. David Horn (College of Life Sciences, University of Dundee)

    building: BMS
    room: Lecture Theatre
    see also: additional details
    host/contact: Prof Terry Smith

    refID: 1397

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