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Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre
Newsletter | November 2020
"What if win-win means that people and non-human nature have enough to thrive?"

That was the question that Prof. Sandra Diaz reflected on at the end of her talk for the Third Annual GGBC Annual Biodiversity Lecture. She shared the threats biodiversity is facing today, current trends, and how we must re-evaluate our relationship with nature if we want to conserve it in the future.

On the 21st of October we welcomed Prof. Sandra Diaz, Co-chair of the IPBES Global Assessment, as well as Dr. Anne Larigauderie, Executive Secretary of IPBES to speak about the work of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) for our annual biodiversity lecture, in connection with the Win-Win Gothenburg Sustainability Award.

The event took place via Facebook Livestream and we had participants joining from all over the world, making this our most-attended Biodiversity Lecture to date. Thank you all for your participation!

The recording is available on our Facebook page.
Upcoming events
Save the Date: 7-8 December
GGBC Annual Member Meeting

The GGBC's 2020 Member Meeting will be a lunch to lunch meeting held online on 7-8 December. The meeting will be split into two days, one focusing on how and why the public response to biodiversity loss is limited, and the second on biodiversity research related to the GGBC. The program is still open for suggestions. If you have any ideas or suggestions on what you think should be included, please contact GGBC coordinator Heléne Aronsson before 10 November.

Register for the meeting here.
Act! Sustainable: Citizen science and biodiversity

17 Nov 10:00 - 12:00
Online via Zoom

Do you want to contribute to research from the comfort of your own living room? Then join us for this online seminar and workshop where we explore the possibilities of using citizen science to understand Earth’s biodiversity.

Join the Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre and the Centre for Sea and Society in this event as part of the Act! Sustainable week. GU researchers Dick Kasperowski and Matthias Obst, as well as Kate Evans from Elephants for Africa will present citizen science and projects about deep-sea diversity off the coast of Sweden and elephants in Botswana using citizen science to collect data. You will also be able to try some of these citizen science tools online.

Find the program and sign up here.

Half time seminar for Ntwae Moiloa - Species, a taxonomic category distinct from the lineage concept? A case study on species delimitation in Silene in Southern Africa

19 Nov 13:00
Online via Zoom

Join Ntwae as he presents the progress and future plans of his PhD thesis: Species, a taxonomic category distinct from the lineage concept? A case study on species delimitation in Silene in Southern Africa.
Email for more information and access the zoom link.
Other news
Nordens Ark in successful breeding program for the lesser white-fronted goose
The lesser white-fronted goose has been threatened with extinction for many years in Sweden. One of the main concerns is hybridisation (breeding between species) with the greater white-fronted goose. A recent study in Scientific Reports shows that inbreeding is not as prevalent as previously thought and that the captive breeding program led by Nordens Ark and partners has been successful.

Read more about the project and its background on Nordens Ark's website.
Västkuststiftelsen wins Naturbonusen 2020

Using the 550.000 SEK prize money from the Swedish outdoor brand Naturkompanietthey will build barbecue places and toilets in the two nature reserves Svartedalen and Vättlefjäll close to Gothenburg. Making nature accessible for the people is an important step towards better appreciating nature's value and live more sustainable on this planet.

Find out more about the prize and the money will be used for at Västkuststiftelsen's website.
ShinyBIOMOD wins 2020 GBIF Ebbe Nielsen Challenge
A multinational team led by Ian Ondo, a research assistant at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew was awarded this prestigious prize in the fields of biosystematics and biodiversity informatics for developing ShinyBIOMOD, together with a team that includes Alexandre Antonelli, GGBC member and RGB Kew Director of Science. The program improves visualization, accounts for data biases and familiarizes users with best practices in species distribution modelling.

Read more about the prize and the jury's motivation on GBIF's website.
Lectures now available online: GGBC at Hållbarhetsfestivalen Västra Götaland
Så vilda! - meet and greet with teachers of the project
Participants joined online to view the informational films from this FORMAS communication project focusing on teaching Swedish school children about our local flora diversity.

Ecosystem collapse event with Gothenburg Natural History Museum
Biodiversity enthusiasts joined the Gothenburg Natural History Museum online for short lectures from GGBC researchers Anne Bjorkman, James Hagan and Christine Bacon. But first, teacher Ola Brushede at the museum demonstrated what a game of Jenga has to do with ecosystem collapse.

Preserving threatened plants
Botanist and curator at the Gothenburg Botanical Garden Stina Weststrand talked about both regional and global conservation projects focusing on plants in an evening lecture in Herrljunga.

Lunch seminar with Ocean Blues
On the final day of Hållbarhetsfestivalen, Ocean Blues took to the stage at the Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg to talk about climate anxiety in young adults and how to combat it through action. By highlighting positive and successful examples, Grazzia Matamoros, educational facilitator with the project and Allison Perrigo, director of the GGBC gave the audience an insight in to what is possible to achieve when there is will.
WIN WIN theme for 2021: Anti-corruption
We thank WIN WIN Gothenburg Sustainability Award for a fruitful collaboration! It has been a great pleasure and honour to work together with them on the 2020 theme of biodiversity. This collaboration enabled us to welcome IPBES for our Annual Biodiversity Lecture and to join forces to put biodiversity even higher on the agenda here in Western Sweden.

Next year they will tackle another ambitious theme affecting sustainability: anti-corruption! In the words of Win Win themselves: “corruption is one of the biggest obstacles to sustainable development”. Thus we believe that even though the theme of biodiversity is finished, next year’s award will help increase and accelerate the work for biodiversity, all over the world.

Our members in the media
Watch this TedEd video where the concepts behind the Great American Biotic Interchange are explained.
What happened to South America’s missing mega-mammals?

A recent study led by Juan Carrillo of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris and GGBC member, formerly at the University of Gothenburg, on the asymmetry of large mammals in North- and South America was highlighted in the New York Times, Science News and The Conversation. The study was carried out together with Søren Faurby, Daniele Silvestro, Christine D. Bacon, and Alexandre Antonelli as well as co-authors, who explore the after-effects of the Great American Biotic Interchange. They find that find that asymmetry results from high extinction of native mammals in South America as supposed to the prevailing view is that the asymmetry resulted from higher origination of immigrant mammals in South America.

Read the article in Science News

Read the article in The Conversation

Read the feature in New York Times

Read the original publication in PNAS
Radio P4
Gothenburg Natural History Museum talks about the animal trade

In light of a recent verdict in the Swedish court on animal trading, local radio contacted the Gothenburg Natural History Museum to talk to curator Magnus Gelang about animal trading and its effects on biodiversity. The museum have been aiding Swedish customs and police for many years with identifying confiscated animals. This work is an important part of preventing the illegal animal trade. Direct exploitation of species, through for example the wildlife trade, is one of the biggest drivers of biodiversity loss on earth.

Listen in from 2:07:00 for the interview in radio P4 (in Swedish).
Dagens Nyheter
Highlighting good biodiversity initiatives over horror stories

Karin Bojs, one of Sweden's most famous popular scientific journalists talks about showcasing positive initiatives over horror stories of nature in this piece in national newspaper Dagens Nyheter. We love to see biodiversity lifted in the news and even more so when large news outlets pick up on the hard work of GGBC members. This piece highlights the threats against biodiversity but then takes a turn in to the positive things we can do to help it by giving the example of the communication project Så Vilda!

Read the popular scientific piece in Dagens Nyheter here (in Swedish).
Leading with Social Impact Podcast: Conservation of elephants

GGBC'er and conservationist Kate Evans talks about loss of biodiversity and how losing elephants will drastically shift the ecological system in the areas they inhabit in this episode of the podcast Leading with Social Impact. She describes how her organisation Elephants for Africa tackles challenges like elephant conservation, poaching, education and living harmoniously with wildlife.

Check out Leading with Social Impact's Facebook post for multiple ways to listen to the podcast.
Post Doc opportunity in computational biology and molecular phylogenetics

Open call for a post doc project entitled "Online phylogenetics with the Antonelli Lab. The full-time, 2-year position will be based at the University of Gothenburg. Application deadline is November 24th.

Apply here
Upcoming Transmitting Science courses

Introduction to bash for bioinformatics
December 1st-4th, 2020 (ONLINE).

Model-based statistical inference in evolutionary biogeography
December 7th-11th, 2020 (ONLINE).

3D geometric morphometrics
December 14th-18th, 2020 (ONLINE).

Introduction to Python biologists
January 11th-15th, 2021 (ONLINE).

Manipulation of NGS data for genomic and population genetics analyses
January 18th-22nd, 2021 (ONLINE).

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
Feeding specialization and longer generation time are associated with relatively larger brains in bees

Ferran Sayol and colleagues address whether differences in insect brain sizes are mainly the result of constraints or selective pressures. by combining prospective and retrospective phylogenetic-based analyses of brain size for a major insect group, bees. They find that that body size was the single best predictor of brain size in bees and that ecologically specialized species with single generations have larger brains relative to their body size.Their findings suggest the importance of ecological pressures over social factors in evolution of insect brain size.
sampbias, a method for quantifying geographic sampling biases in species distribution data
Alexander Zizka together with GGBC'ers Alexandre Antonelli and Daniele Silvestro present an algorithm and software for quantifying the effect of accessibility biases in species occurrence data sets.

Read the paper in Ecography
Identifying Australian snakes by color patterns
Harith Farooq and colleagues investigate if Australian snakes can be identified using their color, pattern, size and location. They find that for most localities the four criteria presented in the study: brown, banded, blotched and highly variable are sufficient to narrow down the number of possible species to fewer than 21 species and in most cases accurate identification on a species level is possible with a few photos for comparison.

Read the paper in Vertebrate Zoology
No one-size-fits-all solution to clean GBIF
Alexander Zizka and Alexandre Antonelli together with co-authors investigate the effect of automated filtering in databases and how much data is lost. By applying 13 different recently proposed filters on occurrence data from GBIF, they find that automated filtering can indeed help in identifying problematic records. However, it also requires customization in terms of which tests and thresholds should be applied depending on which taxonomic group or geographical area is investigated.
Frugivore-fruit size relationships between palms and mammals reveal past and future defaunation impacts
Søren Faurby and colleagues reveal a positive global relationship between fruit size and body size of fruit-eating animals and investigate the potential impact on plant assemblages when fruit-eating species are lost. The results suggest that the effect on plant assemblages will be higher in the Old World tropics and while some plant species may be able to keep pace with future extinction of fruit eaters by adapting their fruit size, large-fruited species may be especially vulnerable to continued defaunation.
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
Many of the turtles we are used to seeing move their heads up and down. But did you know there are almost a hundred species of turtles, mostly found in the Southern Hemisphere, that come from a group that moves their heads side-to-side? It is strange to see! Check out the critically endangered Roti Island snake-necked turtles at our partner Nordens Ark. You can see the strange head movement in this film. To learn more about the evolutionary history of turtles read this paper in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution by Anieli Pereira et al (2017). Anieli is a GGBC member who did her post-doc at the University of Gothenburg.

Contact information

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

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