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New Biological Sciences blog

Now you can keep up to date with QUB Biology by visiting the new QUBio blog.  Or, follow us on twitter@QUBio_Blog

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QUB researchers show shipping noise makes cuttlefish change colour

QUB researchers have shown that human-made sound, such as the boom of a ship's engine, makes common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) change the complex swirls of skin hues, stripes, and spots that they use for camouflage and communication. Like other cephalopods, such as octopus and squid, cuttlefish rely on visual and tactile signals to communicate and there has been little evidence so far to suggest that they perceive or respond to sound.  But when researchers placed a loudspeaker near cuttlefish tanks and played the sound of an underwater engine, the animals swam more and changed colours more often.  They also raised their first pair of arms, which are used to sense water movements, more frequently, the team reports in this month's issue of The American Naturalist.  The sounds of crashing surf had no effect, providing the first evidence that engine noise may stress the animals out.  The fast colour changes could hinder camouflage when ships are near, increasing the animals' chances of being spotted by predators.  Cuttlefish are important both as both predators and prey in marine ecosystems, thus, these changes might also ripple into wider impacts on life underwater.  This work was highlighted recently in Science magazine - you can read the full article published in The American Naturalist.

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Biological Sciences student named one of the 'brightest and most innovative in the world'

A Queen's University Biological Sciences student has won an international award for being one of the brightest and most innovative students in the world.

QUB Marine Biology graduate, Maran Lowry, from the Strand Road area of Derry won the award in the Life Sciences Category for his paper entitled 'Assessing the Escapement Success of Migrating European Silver Eel (Anguilla anguilla L.) from Lough Neagh Using Acoustic Telemetry to Corroborate a Traditional Mark/Recapture Method'.

Maran's entry was amongst 5000 from over 200 universities right across the globe.

Along with the other five winners from Queen's University he has been invited to attend The Undergraduate Awards Global Summit, which is taking place in Dublin, Ireland from November 19th-21st.  More...

Queen’s Communications Office press release.

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New study suggests humans to blame for plummeting numbers of cheetahs

A new study led by Dr Michael Scantlebury and co-researcher Dr Nikki Marks from Queen’s University Belfast into how cheetahs burn energy suggests that human activity, rather than larger predators, may force them to expend more energy and thus be the major cause of their decline.

Wild cheetahs are down to under 10,000 from 100,000 a century ago with conventional wisdom blaming bigger predators for monopolising available food as their habitat becomes restricted.  The traditional thinking has been that cheetahs no longer have sufficient access to prey to fuel their enormous energy output when engaging in super-fast chases.

But, in the first study of its kind, published today in the international journal Science, academics from Queen’s, other Universities and conservation institutions have made the surprising discovery that, in the main, cheetahs do not use significantly more energy than other, similar-sized mammals.

The scientists also discovered that, in searching for prey, cheetahs incur more energy loss than in outbursts of running which, although spectacular, are infrequent.  So, where their prey have been reduced or re-distributed through human impacts, their ability to balance energy budgets has been severely curtailed.  More...

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Prof Maggs wins Phycological Society of America’s Award for Excellence

Congratulations to Prof Christine Maggs (aqua fleece), who recently won the Award for Excellence from the Phycological Society of America and was presented the award at the Joint Aquatic Sciences meeting in Portland, Oregon, USA.  This prestigious award recognises her as a phycologist who has demonstrated sustained scholarly contributions in, and impact upon, the field of phycology over her career, and for her distinguished service to PSA and other phycological societies.

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Scholarships Plus Awards up to £2,500.

Queen’s University is delighted to introduce a brand new SCHOLARSHIPS PLUS AWARD
scheme for 2014 entry.  You can choose between:

  • a tuition fee scholarship
  • a tuition fee scholarship combined with accommodation and lifestyle benefits

Scholarship awards up to £2,500 are available and apply to each year of study.   [More...]

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