News archive - 2013

Pigeon project highlighted on BBC’s Winterwatch

Many people view pigeons as pests, or even ‘rats with wings’ - but according to one student, they are ‘super doves’.

MSc students visit Kenya

Few people enjoy the wintry weather of late January, but it is probably particularly hard on the Centre for Ecology and Conservation postgraduate students who have just returned from their two-week long field course in sunny Kenya.

Plant biology text book selected for prestigious Choice award

Functional Biology of Plants, a text book co-authored by Exeter Professor Emeritus, John Bryant and Martin Hodson from Oxford Brookes University, has been listed as an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice.

Rising ocean acidity makes the effects of pollutants more damaging

Increasing levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere are changing ocean chemistry, making seawater more acidic.

Ship noise makes crabs get crabby

A study published today in Biology Letters found that ship noise affects crab metabolism, with the largest crabs faring worst, and found little evidence that crabs acclimatise to noise over time.

Reducing numbers of one carnivore species indirectly leads to extinction of others

A team from the University of Exeter and the University of Bern has now found that reducing the numbers of one species of carnivore can lead to the extinction of others. 

Lizards facing mass extinction

Climate change could lead to dozens of species of lizards becoming extinct within the next 50 years, according to new research published today.

How birds of different feathers flock together

When different species of birds flock together, their flight formations are determined by social dynamics between and within species.

Bioscience to battle ash dieback

The University of Exeter is a member of a consortium awarded £2.4M by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) for urgent research into the ash dieback fungus and the genetics of resistance in ash trees.

Henry White brings Wellcome Fellowship to Biosciences

Henry White, a molecular immunologist has been appointed on a Wellcome Trust Career Re-Entry Fellowship,

University of Exeter Fellow publishes third contribution to prestigious New Naturalist series

Dr Michael Proctor, a University of Exeter Honorary Fellow since his retirement in 1994, makes his third contribution to the popular New Naturalist series with the release of his book “Vegetation of Britain and Ireland”.

NERC grant success to investigate effects of oestrogens on wild fish populations

Prof Charles Tyler has successfully secured a highly competitive Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) grant of £600k to investigate the adaptation of wild roach (Rutilus rutilus) populations to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in Britain’s rivers.

Academic features on Countryfile

Dr Fiona Mathews has appeared on the BBC programme Countryfile, introducing host Matt Baker to the many species of bats hibernating in Beer caves.

Listen up! Exeter on form in BBC Radio 4 quiz

On Monday 1 April, a team of academics and students from the University of Exeter will be pitting their wits against each other on BBC Radio 4’s lively quiz show, The 3rd Degree.

Future European Science Leaders to Work on Cutting-edge Peroxisome Research

The Marie Curie Initial Training Network PERFUME announces the start of a new multiple year research programme on Peroxisome Function Metabolism.

University ranks 49th best institution in the world

The Leiden University World Rankings shows that the University of Exeter ranks 49th best institution in the world.

French retreat for salmon during last Ice Age

Scientists from the University of Exeter have identified an important refuge for Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) during the last Ice Age using genetic techniques.

Bugs produce diesel on demand

It sounds like science fiction but a team from the University of Exeter, with support from Shell, has developed a method to make bacteria produce diesel on demand. 

Battling with bugs to prevent antibiotic resistance

New scientific research published in the journal PLoS Biology shows that bacteria can evolve resistance more quickly when stronger antibiotics are used.

Fish win fights on strength of personality

When predicting the outcome of a fight, the big guy doesn’t always win, suggests new research on fish. 

Two Exeter academics appointed Wolfson Research Merit Award holders

The Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science, has announced the appointment of two Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award holders from Exeter out of a total of 27 new awards.

Exeter leads campaign to include marine science in National Curriculum

The University of Exeter jointly funded a workshop with Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation bringing together leading science, education and industry representatives to mount a national response to proposed changes to the National Curriculum.

Coral reefs' collapse isn't inevitable, researchers say

Coral reefs are in decline, but their collapse can still be avoided with local and global action.

Food security expert, Sarah Gurr, gives talk for Research Focus Week

Food security is a global issue which affects us all. From production to supply, feeding a rapidly expanding population requires cutting edge technology and complex logistical networks.

Study of the machinery of cells reveals clues to neurological disorder

Investigation by researchers from the University of Exeter and ETH Zurich has shed new light on a protein which is linked to a common neurological disorder called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. 

Exeter undergraduate secures ASAB project scholarship

University of Exeter Biology student, Angharad Thomas, has seen off competition to secure a project scholarship from the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB).

Molecular genetics researcher receives European honour

Professor Nick Talbot has been elected to the membership of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO).

Scientists pave the way for vaccine to combat devastating avian disease

Recent reduction in the use of antibiotic growth promoters in animal feeds has resulted in a dramatic increase in the severe poultry disease - necrotic enteritis. 

Talking Trees

University of Exeter’s Dan Bebber takes his research to prestigious summer science festivals

New research discovers snail shell coiling programmed by protein patterning

Snail shells coil in response to a lopsided protein gradient across their shell mantles, suggests research in BioMed Central’s open access journal EvoDevo.

Shedding light on moths: whiter street lighting attracts more moths, but some like it more than others

Like their more visible cousins the butterflies, moths are undergoing rapid population declines.

Personality is the result of nurture, not nature, suggests study on birds

Personality is not inherited from birth parents says new research on zebra finches.

Study of Badgers on campus provides clues to spread of bovine TB

A biosciences academic has been studying the movement of badgers on Streatham campus to learn more about the spread of bovine TB.

Gannets don’t eat off each other’s plates

Colonies of gannets maintain vast exclusive fishing ranges despite doing nothing to defend their territory from rival colonies, scientists have discovered. 

British butterfly desperate for warm weather this summer

Butterflies are extremely sensitive to changes in temperature and new research has revealed that when summer weather turns bad the silver-spotted skipper battles for survival. 

New technology uncovers secrets of White Cliffs of Dover

Mark van der Giezen, Bryony Williams,Darren Soanes and Thomas Richards from the University of Exeter recently contributed to a major international project to sequence the genome of Emiliania huxleyi, the microscopic plankton species whose chalky skeletons form the iconic White Cliffs of Dover. The results of this project are published this week in Nature.

Rice blast research reveals details on how a fungus invades plants

A study by an international team of researchers has shed light on how the rice blast fungus, Magnaporthe oryzae, invades plant tissue.

Older males make better fathers says new research on beetles

Mature males work harder and care less about female infidelity.

Study reveals uncertainty over the benefits of feeding birds in winter

The results of a new study has found that feeding wild blue tits in winter resulted in less successful breeding during the following spring.

Boat noise stops fish finding home

Boat noise disrupts orientation behaviour in larval coral reef fish, according to new research from the Universities of Exeter, Bristol and Liège.

Student work exhibited at Falmouth Aquarium

Undergraduates from the University of Exeter Cornwall Campus have kindly donated part of their degree work to Falmouth Aquarium as an educational resource.

Ship noise impairs feeding and heightens predation risk for crabs

A study published in the journal Animal Behaviour found that the noise of passing ships disrupts feeding for the common shore crab. 

Biosciences undergraduate to explore impacts of climate change on the Newlyn fishery

University of Exeter 2nd year Biosciences student Zara Botterell has secured a prestigious Society of Biology / British Ecological Society Summer Bursary and further funding from the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers to assess past and future impacts of warming seas on the Newlyn fishery.

Biosciences Undergraduate Student Conference 2013

More than 130 students took part in the second University of Exeter Biosciences Undergraduate Student Conference, held on 29 and 30 May 2013 on Streatham Campus.

Study investigates extraordinary trout with tolerance to heavily polluted water

New research from the University of Exeter and King’s College London has shown how a population of brown trout can survive in the contaminated waters of the River Hayle in Cornwall.

PhD Award for Exeter Graduate

An Exeter graduate is to receive a prestigious PhD award as he embarks on research which aims to reduce the impact of some of humankind’s most devastating diseases.

Explore the wonders of our planet at free interactive event in Falmouth

After the huge success of last year, researchers from the University of Exeter's Cornwall Campus will be back sharing their passion for science at this year’s Science in the Square event.

Science in the Square

Thousands of people were inspired to share their passion for science, and the natural world around them, when they got hands-on with a range of dynamic activities at a fun, free, family event.

University recognised for positive progress on gender equality

The University of Exeter Medical School (UEMS) and the combined departments of Biology and Geography (CLES Cornwall) at the University of Exeter’s Penryn campus are delighted to announce that both departments have been awarded Athena SWAN Bronze department awards.

Life Science ranked in the world's top 100

Life Sciences at the University of Exeter has been ranked in the world’s top 100 by an influential international league table.

Bacteria hold the clues to trade-offs in financial investments and evolution

Scientists have found that bacteria have the potential to teach valuable investment lessons.

New Test to Predict Death Risk from C. difficile

Accurate, robust and simple method of identification has potential benefits to patients, hospitals and health services around the world.

New partnership launched to predict impact of underwater noise on fish

A three-year Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)-funded Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between HR Wallingford and the University of Exeter has been launched this month, funded through NERC’s Marine Renewable Energy Knowledge Exchange (MREKE) programme.

University study uncovers the secret lives of UK garden snail

Researchers track nocturnal snail activity for the first time, using LED lights and time-lapse photography. Snails were tracked over 72 hours, with researchers measuring their speed, distance travelled and exploration habits.

Playing tag with sharks off the west coast of Scotland

Twenty-seven basking sharks have been tagged in the second year of a project to find out more about their life cycle.

International experts to explore new “wonderdrug” at conference

A gas associated with the smell of rotten of eggs is now being proven to have widespread health benefits.

University of Exeter researchers identify wildlife refugia in Dartmoor National Park

Researchers from the University of Exeter are surveying Dartmoor to identity places that shelter wildlife from climate change.

Spread of crop pests threatens global food security as Earth warms

A new study has revealed that global warming is resulting in the spread of crop pests towards the North and South Poles at a rate of nearly 3 km a year. 

Bad news for prey: New research shows that predators can learn to read camouflage

Camouflaged creatures can perform remarkable disappearing acts but new research shows that predators can learn to read camouflage. 

Maths predicts rise and fall of empires

Researchers have developed a new mathematical model that accurately describes the evolution of ancient empires.

Cheats of the bird world – Cuckoo finches fool host parents

Cuckoo finches that lay more than one egg in their victims' nests have a better chance of bamboozling host parents into fostering their parasitic young.

Scientist discovers more about Horseshoe bats on BBC One wildlife programme

An academic from Biosciences has appeared on the BBC One programme ‘Britain’s Big Wildlife Revival’.

Basking shark tagging nominated for Best Conservation Project – four days left to vote

A shark tagging project run by the University of Exeter and Scottish Natural Heritage has been shortlisted for Best Conservation Project in the Countryfile Magazine awards. 

Gathering information about food is not top priority for individuals with high metabolisms

New research has revealed that individuals with the highest metabolic rates within populations should be the least pre-occupied with keeping track of changes in their environments that could lead them to sources of food. 

Research Fellow compares the meerkats in BBC2 documentary

An academic from Biosciences is to feature in an episode from the BBC Two series ‘Natural World’ later this month.

Exeter students create E.coli camera for international competition

A team of students from the University of Exeter are making their final preparations before taking part in a prestigious international synthetic biology competition.

Infection connections: Badger surveillance project reveals how TB infects their social networks

Researchers at the University of Exeter and the AHVLA’s National Wildlife Management Centre have shown that the social lives of badgers are related to their risk of infection with bovine tuberculosis (TB).

Stress makes snails forgetful

Snail study reveals that stress is bad for memory.

Incredible ‘gannet cam’ captures birds’ eye view

Scientists from the University of Exeter and the RSPB have captured incredible footage of what it’s like to fly with the UK’s largest seabird.

Microplastics make marine worms sick

Tiny bits of plastic rubbish could spell big trouble for marine life, starting with the worms.

Arctic study shows key marine food web species at risk from increasing CO2

A research expedition to the Arctic, as part of the Catlin Arctic Survey, has revealed that tiny crustaceans, known as copepods, that live just beneath the ocean surface are likely to battle for survival if ocean acidity continues to rise. 

Smart phone technology is revolutionising ecological and evolutionary research say scientists from the University of Exeter

The varied and valuable uses of smart phones and their apps deserve much wider scientific recognition and exploitation by environmental researchers concludes a review of research app development published this week.

Spiders partial to a side order of pollen with their flies

Spiders may not be the pure predators we generally believe, after a study found that some make up a quarter of their diet by eating pollen.

Outstanding impact in technology awarded to Biosciences project

Professor John Love and the Exeter Microbial Biofuels Group have been awarded the technology prize in the Exeter Impact Awards 2013.