News Article | May 18, 2017
By deploying green clay caterpillars across six continents, researchers unmasked an important global pattern. Their study will be published in Science on May 19. Their discovery that predation is most intense near sea level in the tropics--in places like their study sites at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama--provides a foundation for understanding biological processes from crop protection and carbon storage to the effects of climate change on biodiversity. Insects drove the trend, not mammals or birds. "As someone who has studied insect biodiversity in the tropics for most of my life, I wasn't surprised that insects were responsible for most of the predation observed," said Yves Basset, leader of the ForestGEO Arthropod Initiative at STRI. The team put out almost 3,000 model caterpillars for four to 18 days at 31 different sites from Australia to Greenland at different altitudes, from zero to 2,100 meters above sea level. Based on characteristic marks left by predators in the clay, they could tell whether the models were attacked by birds, mammals or insects. Tropical sites were the most dangerous. In Greenland, the daily chances of a caterpillar model being attacked by a predator were only 13 percent of the odds at the equator. And for every 100 meters of increase in altitude, the chance of being attacked fell by almost 6.6 percent. At the highest forested site, the daily odds of a predator attack was only 24 percent of the odds of attack at sea level. "Most previous studies that didn't support the conclusion that predation is more intense in the tropics were pieced together from evidence gathered in different ways by different groups of people," Basset said. "My colleagues and I were part of a team of people from around the world who all used the same method at different sites, including a few of the ForestGEO sites. We deployed many replicates of fake caterpillars, modeled after a geometrid moth, and analyzed our results together." "This seems like a very simple experiment but the results are relevant to the way we understand some of the important processes in nature, like the innovation of defenses and how temperature changes may affect biodiversity," Basset said. "The results further emphasize the power of citizen science for simple, yet significant experiments." "Caterpillars eat plants, therefore causing crop damage and forcing plants to create new chemicals in their leaves to defend themselves," Basset said. "Caterpillars also defend themselves from predators. Our finding that predation pressure is stronger in the tropics also suggests that insects in the tropics have to be more innovative in order to defend themselves." The authors of this study represented 35 research centers and universities, including STRI; the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences; the University of Helsinki, Finland; the Institute of Entomology, Czech Academy of Sciences; the University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic; the New Guinea Binatang Research Center; the University of California-Irvine; Eidgenossische Technische Hochshule, Zurich; the University of Texas-Arlington; the University of New England, Australia; the University of Alberta, Edmonton; the University of Iceland; the University of Sao Paolo; the University of Hong Kong; the Natural History Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen; Instituto de Ecología, Xalapa, Mexico; Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Ecuador; the University of Ostrava, Czech Republic; Zoological Society of London, the University of Oxford; the University of Turku, Finland; Chinese Academy of Sciences; the University of Aberdeen; Makerere University, Uganda; Swarthmore College, U.S.; the State Institution of Education, Zditovo, Belarus; Aarhus University, Demark; the University of Tartu, Estonia; the University of Bergen, Norway; the University of Beyruth, Germany; and the University of Lancaster, UK. The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, headquartered in Panama City, Panama, is a part of the Smithsonian Institution. The Institute furthers the understanding of tropical nature and its importance to human welfare, trains students to conduct research in the tropics and promotes conservation by increasing public awareness of the beauty and importance of tropical ecosystems. STRI website: http://www. . Roslin. T., Hardwick, B., Novotny, et al. 2017. Higher predation risk for insect prey at low latitudes and elevations. Science.
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: INFRAIA-1-2014-2015 | Award Amount: 9.71M | Year: 2015
AQUAEXCEL2020 aims to integrate top class European aquaculture research facilities of very diverse nature, covering all relevant scientific fields for research and innovation in aquaculture, from genetics to technology through pathology, physiology and nutrition. It will put in place a user-friendly one-stop access to high-quality services and resources from 39 installations covering both established and new aquaculture species, all types of experimental systems as well as sequencing facilities. Giving a prominent place to EU aquaculture industry research needs through a strong involvement of the European Aquaculture Technology and Innovation Platform, it will enable excellent research and sustainable innovation to both public and private sector. It will benefit from the support of the ESFRI infrastructures EMBRC (Marine Biology) and ELIXIR (Life Sciences data) and bring aquaculture research specificities to their agendas. AQUAEXCEL2020 will be a key vehicle in the improvement of aquaculture research practices to the benefit of industry through finalized research and innovation, and of excellent science through the development of highly innovative methods and approaches such as Virtual Laboratories, standardized experimental fish lines and nano-sensors. It will also benefit to society through the development of methods for sustainable aquaculture, such as the use of cleaner fish to control parasites or Integrated Multitrophic Aquaculture, and also through a better management of animal experiments for research according to the 3 Rs, Reduction (via e.g. capitalization of data and provision of stable experimental fish lines), Refinement (via a better control of experimental procedures) and Replacement (via e.g. Virtual Laboratories). As a whole, AQUAEXCEL2020 will provide a world-class platform for all types of fish culture research, from biology to technology, in all types of rearing systems, with all major EU fish species, including the most promising new species.
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2014-ETN | Award Amount: 3.87M | Year: 2015
The IMPRESS European Training Network will provide a new generation of researchers with the multidisciplinary skills and competences needed to oversee new stocking strategies for Europes most important and threatened freshwater fish species (Atlantic salmon, European eel and sturgeons) thus enabling conservation and growth in a sector of significant economic and societal importance. Freshwater fish populations bring many benefits to Europes citizens through leisure activities, and enhance rural employment through fishing and tourism. The species included in IMPRESS are sentinel species of clean, healthy freshwater ecosystems and of major historical, cultural and economic importance. Over-exploitation and anthropogenic activities have critically endangered wild populations of these fish groups, especially sturgeons. As the main flaw of past stock enhancement is high post-release mortality, the researcher training in IMPRESS will build upon recent scientific advances, especially in fish genomics and enriched hatchery techniques, to develop innovative production regimes resulting in increased survival rates of released fish. This paradigm shift in stock enhancement strategies will require changes at every level of the production cycle, from broodstock management and gamete quality to hatchery design. New in vitro and -omics technologies will be developed to solve current bottlenecks in the production cycle of sturgeons. IMPRESS will also verse young researchers on the social dimensions of this complex issue, including the need to foster closer dialogue with the important stakeholders responsible for national and regional stocking programmes. Further, through dissemination and public engagement, all IMPRESS fellows will work actively to increase public awareness on the importance of these key fish species to freshwater biodiversity, and on the major societal benefits of healthy fish populations, both for recreational activities and for supporting rural employment.
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-TP | Phase: KBBE.2013.1.2-10 | Award Amount: 7.96M | Year: 2014
Only about 10% of todays global aquaculture production use genetically improved stocks. In Europe, some breeding programmes consist of only the basic components of a breeding scheme. Hence, there is large potential to increase efficiency and profit by domestication and genetic improvement of farmed finfish. The main challenge of FISHBOOST is to realise this potential into economic and social acceptable breeding schemes, and advance these for each of the six target species. Acknowledging the different capacities of the species, the aim of FISHBOOST is: To improve the efficiency and profitability of European aquaculture by advancing selective breeding to the next level for each of the six main finfish species through collaborative research with industry. FISHBOOST considers the main components of breeding programmes for Atlantic salmon, common carp, European seabass, gilthead seabream, rainbow trout and turbot. Disease resistance and production efficiency are genetically improved through detailed phenotyping and advanced genomic technologies. The economic impact and producers perceptions will be assessed for the recommendations for each of the species. 14 well-recognised RTD participants in Europe on aquaculture breeding will collaborate in a five year comprehensive research project with 7 SMEs, 4 large industries and 1 NGO throughout Europe that are in the lead of the development of their species breeding programmes or are vectors between industry and RTD. A mixture of low and high-tech technological advances depending on current capacities of the species will be developed to move each species breeding program to the next level. This step-change advance will facilitate balanced and sustainable breeding programmes applying a wide set of traits, breeding tools and technologies. A dissemination program will deliver these results to SMEs and other end-users, thereby advancing existing and stimulating new aquaculture breeding programmes in Europe.
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-SA | Phase: KBBE.2013.1.2-11 | Award Amount: 2.15M | Year: 2014
The overall vision of the OrAqua project is the economic growth of the organic aquaculture sector in Europe, supported by science based regulations in line with the organic principles and consumer confidence. OrAqua will suggest improvements for the current EU regulatory framework for organic aquaculture based on i) a review of the relevant available scientific knowledge, ii) a review of organic aquaculture production and economics, as well as iii) consumer perceptions of organic aquaculture. The project will focus on aquaculture production of relevant European species of finfish, molluscs, crustaceans and seaweed. To ensure interaction with all relevant stakeholders throughout the project a multi stakeholder platform will be established. The project will assess and review existing knowledge on fish health and welfare, veterinary treatments, nutrition, feeding, seeds (sourcing of juveniles), production systems, including closed recirculation aquaculture systems (RAS), environmental impacts, socio-economic and aquaculture economic interactions, consumer aspects, legislations and private standards for organic aquaculture. The results will be communicated using a range of media and techniques tailored to involve all stakeholder groups. Further, Multi Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) and SWOT analysis will be used to generate relevant and robust recommendations. A wide range of actors from several countries will participate and interact through a participatory approach. The 13 OrAqua project partners form a highly qualified and multidisciplinary consortium that includes four universities, five aquaculture research institutes, three research groups in social science, a fish farmer organisation, a fish farmer and two organic certification/control bodies. The main outcomes of the project will be recommendations on how to improve the EU regulation, executive dossiers and a Policy Implementation Plan (PIP). Further the project will deliver recommendations on how to enhance economic development of the European organic aquaculture sector.
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-CSA | Phase: Fission-2013-3.1.1 | Award Amount: 10.26M | Year: 2013
Within the OPERRA project, it is proposed that the MELODI Association, as a well-advanced network, takes the lead in establishing the necessary structures able to manage the long-term European research programmes in radiation protection, also taking advantage of the valuable experience gathered through the DoReMi network of excellence. Whilst in fields adjacent to low-dose risk research (radioecology, nuclear emergency management) scientific issues would continue to be hosted by the sister associations, Alliance and NERIS, these associations are encouraged to join MELODI to establish an umbrella structure as equal partners. OPERRA will exploit the synergies of EURATOM and other EC programmes considering the most relevant joint program areas and mechanisms for funding joint activities. The project will also strengthen the links with national funding programs as well as the European education and training structures. Also, it will take steps towards a greater involvement of those new Member States who could benefit from increased participation in the radiation research programmes. Finally, OPERRA will take steps to further integrate the joint use of infrastructures in European countries, and to develop and facilitate an easier access to research infrastructures. The final objective of this project is to build up an umbrella coordination structure that has the capacity in a legal and logistical sense to administer future calls for research in radiation protection as a whole (including low-dose risk, radioecology, nuclear emergency management, and also research activities related to the medical uses of ionizing radiation) on behalf of the European Commission. OPERRA will prepare the organisation for a first competitive call by the end of 2013 for projects in low-dose risk research and a second competitive call in 2014 for broader projects in radiation protection research, subject to the approval of EC services, with the support of Go-between administrator operator and an external advisory entity.
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: SiS.2012.2.2.3-1 | Award Amount: 5.35M | Year: 2013
ASSIST-ME is a high level research project with a societal impact that will investigate formative and summative assessment methods to support and to improve inquiry-based approaches in European science, technology and mathematics (STM) education. Based on an analysis of what is known about summative and formative assessment of knowledge, skills and attitudes related to key STM competences and an analysis of European educational systems, the project will design a range of combined assessment methods. These methods will be tested in primary and secondary schools in different educational cultures in Europe in order to analyse the conditions that support or undermine the uptake of formative assessment related to inquiry processes. The resulting synthesis of opportunities and restrictions for implementing an assessment culture using both formative and summative approaches will be evaluated and discussed in relevant forums in order to formulate guidelines and recommendations for policy makers, curriculum developers, teacher trainers and other stakeholders in the different European educational systems.