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Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre
Newsletter | December 2020
Bring on 2021: A second super year for biodiversity

What started as the super year for biodiversity has ended with a different global focus than we had hoped, albeit strongly linked to pressures on nature. We know that biodiversity loss and the pandemic are clearly linked, as outlined in the recently released Executive Summary of the IPBES Workshop on Biodiversity and Pandemics.  

Many of the major biodiversity-focused events of 2020 have now been rescheduled for 2021. The IUCN World Conservation Congress will be held September, 2021 and the Convention on Biological Diversity COP15 will be held in the second quarter of 2021. The COP will be especially important in outlining the biodiversity agenda for the coming decades, as it will inaugurate the Post-2020 Framework for Biodiversity, which is the first step towards the 2050 Vision: “Living in Harmony with Nature.”

On the individual level, people around the world have moved to a more outdoor-friendly lifestyle, opening the door for the nature-deprived to reconnect with biodiversity around them. Friluftsliv (outdoor life) is booming here in Sweden, even as the days get shorter. While many of the GGBC partners have shut their doors, others, such as Västkuststiftelsen, Botaniska, and Slottskogens djurpark, saw record numbers of visitors in 2020.

It is a weird time, and it isn't over - but we would like to thank all of our members for being so flexible throughout the year and creating a sense of community even when we couldn't share ideas and cake at Bioteket. There have been many successes: small and large.

That said, we can't wait to see you all in person in Bioteket once it's safe again!

We wish everyone a safe, sane and predominately screen-free holiday.

Allison & Heléne
Upcoming events
Sea & Society day on Dec 17th
Online via Zoom, December 17, 13:00-15:30

Welcome to Sea and Society Day 2020! The programme is filled with short keynote speakers, panel- and group discussions. It will be a multidisciplinary, interactive and open-minded afternoon.

The digital conference is open for everyone with an interest in the topic, including, researchers, students and others who are engaged in the future of our oceans.

Read more and sign up here

Two PhD defenses in biodiversity this week
Towards data-driven biodiversity conservation in Africa
Harith Farooq
PhD candidate at the University of Aveiro, Portugal and visiting student at the Dept. of Biological and Environmental Science, GU
GU Supervisors: Alexandre Antonelli and Søren Faurby

December 17th, 15:00
You can join the defense via Zoom
Advancing evolutionary biology: genomics, Bayesian statistics, and machine learning
Tobias Andermann
PhD candidate at the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, GU
Supervisors: Alexandre Antonelli and Daniele Silvestro

December 18th, 14:00
You can join the defense via Zoom (please do not post this link publicly)
Other news
A new Dr. in biology!
A big congratulations to Sten Svantesson who successfully defended his PhD thesis "Taxonomy and Systematics of Thelephorales - Glimpses Into its Hidden Hyperdiversity" on the 20th of November!

Find the thesis here
Half-time seminar for Ntwae Moiloa
Ntwae presented the first half of his PhD project entitled: Species, a taxonomic category distinct from the lineage concept? A case study on species delimitation in Silene in Southern Africa on the 19th of November.
GGBC Member Meeting 2020
This year's GGBC member meeting (December 7-8) was active and fast paced, as well as busy: we had over 70 participants during the two days. Research, education and collaborations were presented, just scratching the surface of the many ongoing projects around biodiversity in Western Sweden.

Niklas Harring gave the keynote talk "
Why people who are concerned with biodiversity loss and climate change don’t take (enough) action," which was recorded and will be available on the GGBC website shortly.
Two GGBC'ers on the list of highly cited reserachers
Henrik Nilsson and Alexandre Antonelli were both listed on the Clarivate Web of Science list of Highly Cited Researchers for 2020!

In addition to being highly cited, Henrik Nilsson never skips the chance to review a paper: he has 367 verified peer reviews listed on Publons.
Join Havets Hus for a digital tour of the aquarium
Havets Hus is closed for visitors for now but you can still enjoy the exhibitions and newly built aquariums with this video featuring the inhabitants of the aquariums and the guides at Havets Hus.

You can also watch their latest release of the lesser spotted dogfish from Dec 11th.
Research funding
FORMAS funded projects

Ana Tronholm
Four million SEK granted for the project: Åtgärder mot farliga algblomningar: Utveckling av en innovativ och integrerande metod för att förutsäga giftiga cyanobakterier i en föränderlig miljö.

Johan Uddling
Three million SEK granted for the project: Heat stress in tropical trees and its implications for tree plantation success, forest carbon storage and biodiversity.
Nilsson-Ehle endowments
Three GGBC researchers recieved funding for taxonomic work through the Nilsson-Ehle foundation. Ntwae Moiloa was awarded a grant for his research on the plant genus Silene, Igor Kessous was awarded funding for his project PHYLOCON: PHYLOgeny and CONservation of wild pineapples (Bromeliaceae) and Anne-Sophie Quatela was awarded funding for her research on the plant genus Silene. Anne-Sophie also received a grant from Stiftelsen Lars Hiertas Minne for this research.

Congratulation Ana, Johan, Ntwae, Igor and Anne-Sophie!
Our members in the media

Flightless bird species at risk of extinction
A new study from Ferran Sayol Alexandre Antonelli, Søren Faurby and co-authors in Science Advances shows that bird species that have lost the ability to fly through evolution have become extinct more often than birds that have retained their ability to fly and that, in many cases, the extinctions have had anthropogenic origins. The findings from the study highlights how antropogenic activities can distort the patterns of biodiversity we see around us today.
Check out the press release from Göteborgs universitet or this short movie of Ferran talking about the results.

Read the original publication in Science Advances here
Evolution towards new species: with Magnus and Kennet

Watch as Kennet Lundin and Magnus Gelang, curators at the Gothenburg Natural History Museum talk about the forces of evolution on the development of new species in birds, nudibranches and bats. The discussion was recorded as part of the National Science Festival 2020 and is now available through UR, Sweden's largest educational radio channel.
Two research profiles from the GGBC

Kate Evans and Søren Faurby were interviewed by the Gothenburg Natural History Museum for their participation in Biodiversity in Numbers: A digital quiz and short talks at the national Science festival. Read what these two GGBC'ers have to say about their careers paths and research.

Read about Kate and her love for elephants in GNM's Facebook post here

Read about Søren and his work with big data in GNM's Facebook post here
A video game garden: the delights of virtual botany
Alexandre Antonelli talks about the dream of making a plant-spotting version of an augmented reality game such as Pokémon Go in The Guardian. Together with a forager and a programmer they discuss the educational possibilities of simulated plant life in video games

Read the article in The Guardian here.
Gothenburg scientists trying to save the Swedish corals
Read about how our partners at the Seafaring Museum and Aquarium are working to establish a genbank for corals as well as attempting to breed them in a collaboration together with reserachers at the University of Gothenburg.

Read the article in local newspaper Göteborgsposten here
PhD position on shark extinction mechanisms
Fully funded PhD position in evolutionary biology, focused on modelling evolutionary processes using shark paleontological and neontological data based at  the University of Zurich (UZH) and will be hosted at the Palaeontological Institute and Museum (PIM). The student will be supervised by Dr. Catalina Pimiento in collaboration with Daniele Silvestro.

Application deadline April 1, 2021.
More information and application details here.
Upcoming Transmitting Science courses - all online

Introduction to organic 3D modelling
January 11th-22nd, 2021

3D geometric morphometric
January 11th-15th, 2021

Geometric morphometrics in R
January 18th-26th, 2021

Introduction to macroevolutionary analyses using phylogenies
January 25th-29th, 2021

Naturalistic and scientific illustration 1: traditional techniques
January 25th-29th, 2021

Naturalistic and scientific illustration 2: digital techniques
February 1st-3rd, 2021

Introduction to genome-resolved metagenomics for microbial communities
February 8th-12th, 2021

GGBC members get a 20% discount on Transmitting Science courses. To receive this discount, note that you are a member in your application for the discount to apply.
Member research highlights
Higher evolutionary rates in life‑history traits in insular than in mainland palms

Christine D. Bacon and colleagues show that  islands are important arenas for trait evolution, stressing the importance of islands for conservation of functional, phylogenetic, and taxonomic diversity.

Read the publication in Scientific Reports here
Revisiting the taxonomic status of Apostolepis sanctaeritae, a forgotten Neotropical dipsadid snake

Thaís B. Guedes  and colleagues make a careful reanalysis of the coloration pattern, pholidosis, and the description of the skull morphology of  Apostolepis sanctaeritae, a rather controversial taxon described from a single specimen.

Read the paper in  SALAMANDRA, German Journal of Herpetology here
Pollinators drive floral evolution in an Atlantic Forest genus

Beatriz Neves, Igor Kessous, Christine Bacon, Alexandre Antonelli and colleagues determine if floral traits predict functional groups of pollinators as documented, confirming the pollination syndromes in Vriesea and test if genetic structure in Vriesea is driven by geography (latitudinal and altitudinal heterogeneity) or ecology (pollination syndromes).

Read the publication in AoB Plants here
Mapping Africa’s biodiversity: More of the same is just not good enough

Harith Farooq, Josué Azevedo, Alexandre Antonelli and Søren Faurby present a novel approach for quantifying sampling effort and its impact on biodiversity knowledge, focusing on Africa. They investigate whether the lack of knowledge of a site attracts scientists to visit these areas and collect samples of species and estimate the time required to sample 90% of the continent and find that it may take between 172 and 274 years, depending on the group.

Read the publication in Systematic Biology here
Have you published recently using your GGBC affiliation? Email a link to the publication to Heléne Aronsson so GGBC can promote your paper!
GGBC fun fact
Here in Sweden, at christmas time, home-made advent chandeliers are decorated with things from nature such as pine cones, rowan-berries and most importantly the beloved sphagnum known as "white moss" in Swedish. But is it really moss we're using?

Watch this Youtube video (in Swedish), claryfying once and for all the common mistake people make when talking about this ornament!

Contact information

Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre
Box 461, 40530, Gothenburg, SWEDEN
Copyright © 2020 University of Gothenburg, All rights reserved.

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