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Upcoming events

Seminars may be held in different locations, so please check the location information for each talk.


Dr. Evelyn Armstrong, Chemistry


Wednesday, May 3rd , 12.00pm

Dr. Angela Brandt

Postdoctoral researcher, Landcare Research

Products of history: Immigration timing of New Zealand plant ancestors affects present-day communities

Using dated molecular phylogenies to estimate order of arrival of plant ancestors to New Zealand, I show that early-arriving lineages tend to dominate communities in both relatively young (alpine) and older (forest) ecosystems. Moreover, evidence suggests this pattern persists in anthropogenically created habitats (secondary grassland created by forest clearing). However, non-native species invasion may alter the role of evolutionary history in shaping New Zealand’s plant communities.

Time and location

Wednesday, May 3rd , 12.00pm, Benham Seminar Room (B215), Department of Zoology


Wednesday, April 5th, 12.00pm

Rohan Allen

PhD Candidate, Department of Botany

The Ecological and Evolutionary Significance of Genetic Diversity in Phytoplankton Responses to Oceanic Climate Change.

Marine phytoplankton are responsible for approximately 50% of global primary production, and play a critical role in global biogeochemical cycling and trophic energy transfer. Climate change is causing rapid changes in the marine environment, raising questions about how these important microbes will respond. Here I will discuss what we know about phytoplankton responses to oceanic climate change, and how genetic diversity may be a key piece missing from the puzzle.

Time and location

Wednesday, April 5th, 12.00pm, Benham Seminar Room (B215), Department of Zoology



Thursday, March 9th

Professor Ulf Molau

Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: about the new platform IPBES

The Intergovernmental science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) was launched as a UN initiative in 2012. The creation of IPBES has been a decadal process within the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD). Many observers regard IPBES as the “little sister” of the climate panel IPCC; however, structure and goals are quite different. In my seminar I will provide the background of IPBES and the circumscription of Ecosystem Services (or - in more relaxed language - “Nature’s Benefits to People). Major tasks and ongoing assessments will be presented, all based on the IPBES Conceptual Framework. The seminar will also provide some NZ examples from our current contribution to the thematic assessment “Land Degradation and Restoration” to be finalized in 2018.

Time and location

Thursday, March 9th, 3.30pm, Benham Seminar Room (B215), Department of Zoology.

Thursday, March 2nd

Professor Elisabeth Cooper

Institute for Arctic and Marine Biology, Faculty of Biosciences, Fisheries and Economics, University of Tromsø, Norway.

High Arctic ecosystem responses to changes in snow cover.

The Arctic is experiencing increased temperatures and precipitation, especially in winter. Snow acts as an insulator, and depth changes affect the enhancement of thermally dependent reactions, such as microbial activity, affecting soil nutrient composition, respiration, and winter gas efflux. Snow depth and spring temperatures influence snowmelt timing, determining the start of plant growth and forage availability.

Mild periods in winter followed by a return to freezing have negative consequences for plants and invertebrates, and the resultant ice layers act as barriers to vertebrate foraging, triggering starvation of herbivores and their predators. Knock-on effects between seasons and trophic levels thus have important consequences for biological activity, diversity, and ecosystem function.

Elisabeth will present some of her work on ecosystem responses to changing snow dynamics on Spitsbergen, Svalbard, High Arctic Norway.

Time and location

Thursday, March 2nd, 3.00pm Hunter Centre, 279 Great King Street, Room 122