PROGRAMME for 2020
Monday 23 March – 6.30 pm – Beth Okamura – How birds shape freshwater biodiversity
Abstract: Ever wondered how volcanic islands, garden ponds and gravel pits develop a rich biota? Or why rowan trees grow near pines? The answers in part involve patterns of bird visitations. Darwin appreciated that avian activities might help to explain the widespread distributions of taxa that live in disjunct habitats. This conundrum famously led him to examine the attachment and survival of recently hatched snails on ducks’ feet. This talk will consider how our understanding of dispersal of freshwater invertebrates has improved since Darwin’s era. I will particularly focus on evidence for waterbird-mediated dispersal of freshwater animals that are poorly known but that have substantial ecological and practical impacts—colonial invertebrates called bryozoans (or ‘moss animals’) and their myxozoan parasites (‘slime animals’). I will illustrate how these unappealingly-named animals serve as ‘model systems’ that demonstrate the profound effect of waterbird movements on the development and dynamics of freshwater communities, and consequent impacts on water supply and emerging fish diseases.
Biography: Beth Okamura is a Merit Researcher at the Natural History Museum, London. Prior to this she held positions at the Universities of Oxford and Bristol, before becoming a Prof. in Aquatic Biology at the Univ. of Reading. Her Ph.D. from the Univ. of California, Berkeley, focused on the ecology and evolution of marine invertebrates, but her move to Oxford led to her long-term interests in how animals that live in isolated lakes and ponds manage to disperse and persist across the landscape. She has particular interests in the role of waterbirds as vectors of dispersal—a question that she is now beginning address in new ways by analysing DNA contained in faeces of ducks, geese and godwits (Limosa spp.)
Monday 18 May – 5.30 pm – Annual Review Meeting followed at 6.30 by a talk, details to be announced.
Monday 21 September – 6.30 pm – details to be announced.
Monday 16 November – 6.30 pm – the NBC’s 1000th meeting! Details to be announced.