Latest News

BLOG: Short-lived African turquoise killifish shed light on the evolutionary basis of vertebrate ageing

For this week’s Departmental Seminar we were fortunate to hear from Dario Valenzano, one of the main investigators pioneering the African turquoise killifish (Nothobranchius furzeri) as a model organism for vertebrate ageing and lifespan studies.

African honeybees as a mitigation method for elephant impact on trees

Researchers at the University of Oxford, in collaboration with Save the Elephants, Elephants Alive and Witwatersrand University, have found that African honeybees act as a mitigation method for elephant impact on large trees.

The team used the marula tree -a favourite amongst elephants - and tested the levels of impact such as trees having their bark stripped, branches snapped or even being toppled over. This was the first study to analyse the use of a combination of both active and dummy beehives as a mitigation method.

BLOG - Two puzzles: Hurricanes and menopause

Last Monday, the Department was very excited to welcome Prof Shripad Tuljapurkar for the weekly departmental lecture. This time the lecture was extra special: Prof Tuljapurkar’s impressive body of work using mathematical models in biology was recognised with the Weldon Memorial Prize this year. In his award lecture, Prof Tuljapurkar discussed two unsolved puzzles in ecology and evolution as examples of the large repertoire of questions that he has tackled in his career: the role of hurricanes in plant population dynamics and the evolution of senescence.

BLOG: An evolution of epigenetic mechanisms through genomic analyses of nematodes

The Department had the pleasure of hosting Peter Sarkies (Imperial College London) who gave a talk about his work concerning the evolution of epigenetic mechanisms through genomic analyses of the nematode phylum. Peter’s research has demonstrated how sampling organisms across a range of evolutionary distances within a single phylum, as opposed to being reliant on data from conventional model organisms that are evolutionarily very distant, can reveal fundamental molecular insights.

‘Friends of friends’ relationships may be simpler than they seem

Forget “It’s complicated”: Social life is actually less complex than it can appear.

New research, from Oxford University and University of Exeter, gives clues into how social networks can evolve by showing that complex social patterns observed across the animal kingdom may be simpler than they appear.

Not only are our own friends an important aspect of our life, but so are our friends’ of friends. These ‘friend-of-a-friend’ relationships are known as ‘indirect social connections’, and show where each individual is positioned within the overall social network.