Monthly Archives: February 2011

UK-US adaptor please?

Hi! Does anyone possibly have a UK-US adaptor I could borrow for the next few weeks please? I’m off to Texas for a conference. Willing to offer payment in Hot Tamales / US candy of your choice…!
Thanks so much!
Anna (

Additional E&B seminar – BMS Seminar Room, 4pm Monday 21st Feb

Dear all,

John Colbourne, who led the effort to sequence the Daphnia genome,  is giving a talk next week. Abstract below.

Daphnia pulex: A Genome for the Environment

John Kenneth Colbourne, The Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics, Indiana University

In both basic and human health research, there is a pressing need to understand how environmental conditions influence genome structures and gene functions and, in turn, how individuals and populations cope with changing environments and exposure to toxicants. Two alternative approaches are available to address the complexity of genome-environment interactions. Researchers may opt to study the ecology of currently well-developed genomic model species, or alternatively, study the genome biology of a species previously well studied for its ecology and evolution. Taking this latter approach, a multidisciplinary network of investigators describes the genome sequence of Daphnia pulex, a keystone species of freshwater ecosystems.

The Daphnia pulex genome is found to contain at least 30,907 genes. The high gene count is a consequence of an elevated rate of gene duplication resulting in tandem gene clusters. More than 1/3 of Daphnia’s genes have no detectable homologs in any other available proteome, and the most amplified gene families are specific to the Daphnia lineage. The co-expansion of gene families interacting within metabolic pathways suggests that the maintenance of duplicated genes is not random, and the analysis of gene expression under different environmental conditions reveals that numerous paralogs acquire divergent expression patterns soon after duplication. Daphnia-specific genes – including many additional loci within sequenced regions that are otherwise devoid of annotations – are the most responsive genes to ecological challenges.

Accommodation needed 19 March – 27 April


Echo (a new PhD student) is looking for accomodation from the 19th of March until 27th of April. If you know of something, please contact her directly.

Yu-Hsun Hsu <>


Departmental email list?

Sheffield staff/students…do you think you are missing from the Dept. email list? (i.e.  did you get an email from Sue Carter re. Green Impact this morning ?). If not you need to contact to ask her to put you on so you don’t miss important Dept. info.



Green Impact 2011

Hi all- as you know Animal and Plant Sciences is taking part in the 2011 Green Impact environmental competition/accreditation scheme. Last year APS achieved ‘Working towards accreditation’ and the ‘Best energy saving idea’ awards. This year we hope for a ‘Bronze’- or maybe a ‘Silver’?  🙂

Auditing is on Thursday 17th February so in preparation for this we ask you to take a brief look at the APS Green Impact link In order to summarise how we can all reduce our environmental impact we have placed a few useful documents (as below) on the site and distributed some copies around the Dept.

1) The APS ‘Green Impact Guide’
2) The APS Lighting and Shutdown Responsibility plan
3) APS SMART action plan for greening opportunities



4 weeks accomodation required

Rachel Bristol is coming here for 4 weeks from the 28th feb and is looking for a room to rent. If you can help please contact Rachel directly on

NERC workshop on “omics technologies for marine models”

I would like to draw to your attention to a forthcoming NERC workshop
on “omics technologies for marine models” that we are organising.

We will now hold it at SAMS on Tuesday Apr 5 PM and Wed April 6 AM,
in order to facilitate travel to and from Oban.
Lunch will be provided on both days, as well as dinner on the evening
of Apr 5.

Registration is free.

I will be very happy to receive your abstracts for talks and / or
posters (300 words) before Friday Feb 25th.

More information is available on our website:

We’ll be striving to make the workshop both exciting and productive.
This event is co-organised with Colin Brownlee (Marine Biological
Association, Plymouth), and Mark Blaxter (Genepool, Edinburgh). Its
objectives are to build a community around the potential of -omics
technologies to improve the biological monitoring of marine
ecosystems. It will span across research councils, end users, and
government agencies in order to explore current strengths in -omics
and systems biology in the marine biology sector, foster
cross-council thinking and develop joint actions as appropriate, as
well as looking at the international landscape.

posted by Debs

Research Associate in Computational Complexity and Behavioural Evolution

University of Sheffield
Duration: 18-months with potential for extension
Deadline: 25th March 2011

This post will develop novel approaches to understanding the evolution of animal behaviour, by applying computational complexity and information theoretic approaches to the analysis of mechanisms for implementing animal behaviour. The classic approach to understanding behavioural evolution is in terms of models of optimal behaviour. Optimality theory is invaluable as a benchmark to assess a given behaviour or behavioural model against, but typically requires unrealistic limitations on the behaviour under consideration, and hence results in ‘complex models for simple environments’. However, real animals inhabit complex environments, and use simple rules of thumb to deal with them. There is clearly a trade-off between the marginal fitness gain from having a more and more complex behavioural model for an environment, and the fitness costs of the additional resources required for implementing that model. To date, the approach to understanding this trade-off has been somewhat heuristic. This project will seek to apply computational complexity theory and information theory in an attempt to gain a more quantitative understanding of the trade- off between behavioural complexity and behavioural optimality.
It is expected that the successful candidate will quickly take a lead in developing a research programme and securing funding to continue it. Researchers who have demonstrated an ability to direct their own research programme, whether during doctoral studies or subsequently, are therefore particularly encouraged to apply. We particularly welcome applications from theoretical computer scientists, theoretical physicists, and mathematicians. A demonstrated interest in biology would be an advantage.

The successful candidate will become part of the newly established Behavioural and Evolutionary Theory Lab at the University of Sheffield, Department of Computer Science, under the directionof Dr James Marshall ( It is anticipated that there will be opportunities for interaction with the Modelling Animal Decisions research group directed by Professors Alasdair Houston and John McNamara (Mathematics) at the University of Bristol (

For access to the full job advert, visit


Volunteer research assistants are needed to work with skilled field workers studying the abundance and movement patterns of medium to large mammals within the Central Belize Wildlife Corridor in Central America.

Training will be given in all field techniques. The field activities will vary seasonally but are expected to include the following –
1) Live trapping
2) Telemetry
3) Camera trapping
4) Sign surveys

Accommodation in the study area is ~US$450 per month for dormitory style accommodation and two cooked meals (morning and evening) every day. Limited funding may be available to cover accommodation /subsistence dependent on the needs of the volunteer and how long they commit to stay; priority for financial support will go to Belizean nationals, but consideration will be given to other well-justified requests. We cannot offer any financial support for international travel or insurance.

Volunteers are expected to stay a minimum of two months.

Selection Criteria
Essential –
1) Background in Biology, Zoology, Wildlife Management, Conservation Biology, Natural Resource Management or related subject
2) Genuine interest in neotropical wildlife
3) Physically fit and capable of undertaking fieldwork in hot humid conditions
4) Mature approach to fieldwork
5) Prepared to work unsocial hours
6) Prepared to work at night
7) Proven ability to work well in a team
8) Capable of working independently when necessary
9) Capable of following protocols, recording data and organising field notes
10) Capable of inputting data into a database
11) Ability to speak read & write English fluently Desirable –
1) Driving license
2) Ability to use, or willingness to learn, relevant GIS & telemetry software

Opportunities to be involved in data analysis and the preparation of manuscripts for publication may arise, depending on the contribution made by the individual. We also welcome graduate students who may like to use this opportunity to develop a project and collect data for an MSc thesis. Please enquire further.

Application procedure
Please send a CV and a cover letter detailing why you would like to work on this project and how you fulfil the selection criteria. There is no deadline for this post; we will consider applications as we receive them. We will take on a minimum of two and a maximum of ten volunteers at any one time. For informal enquiries, and to submit an application, please contact Dr Rebecca Foster (

posted by Hannah

Spring Seminar series 2011

the old website as linked below is defunct