Research news

To stray or stay: population genetics of sea trout helps guide management

New research led by the University of Exeter in partnership with the Environment Agency and Westcountry Rivers Trust highlights how studying population genetics could improve the management of sea trout within the southwest.

The foundation of aquatic life can rapidly adapt to global warming, new research suggests

Important microscopic creatures which produce half of the oxygen in the atmosphere can rapidly adapt to global warming, new research suggests.

Soft coral species exhibit strikingly different patterns of connectivity around the British Isles

The evolution of land animals has been shaped by barriers such as oceans and mountains which have divided them and sent them down different genetic paths. 

Breeding oilseed rape varieties for pollinator-friendly traits

Amounts and sugar content of nectar vary between commercial varieties of oilseed rape (OSR) produced with different breeding systems, when tested in the glasshouse. 

New ‘frog-swab’ testing device revolutionises diagnosis of the deadly amphibian chytridiomycosis disease

University of Exeter researchers, Dr. Michael Dillon, Dr. Jamie Stevens, and Dr. Chris Thornton have joined forces with Dr. Andrew Bowkett of the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust in developing a ground-breaking new diagnostic device for the rapid detection of the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd).

Scientists reveal core genes involved in honey bee immunity

An international team of researchers has identified a core set of genes involved in the responses of honey bees to multiple diseases caused by viruses and parasites.

A Tool for understanding the future of global coral reefs

Researchers at the University of Exeter, as part of a global collaborative research programme, have produced a guide to help coral reef managers understand the impacts of stressors on coral reef ecosystems.

Banded mongooses go to war over sex and territory

Gang warfare is not unique to humans – banded mongooses do it too.

Planned protection area would help basking sharks

A proposed Marine Protected Area (MPA) off Scotland’s west coast would help basking sharks, researchers say.

Watching birds near your home is good for your mental health

People living in neighbourhoods with more birds, shrubs and trees are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress, according to research.

Exeter helps protect Myanmar marine life

A new plan to protect Myanmar’s diverse marine life has been announced.

Warming ponds could accelerate climate change

Rising temperatures could accelerate climate change by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide stored in ponds and increasing the methane they release, new research shows.

Tough early life makes wild animals live longer

Growing up in tough conditions can make wild animals live longer, new research suggests.

Climate change and fishing create ‘trap’ for penguins

Endangered penguins are foraging for food in the wrong places due to fishing and climate change, research led by the University of Exeter and the University of Cape Town has revealed.

Penryn research excellence illustrated by competition success

Penryn PhD students are celebrating after sweeping the board at a high-profile research competition.

LED lighting could have major impact on wildlife

LED street lighting can be tailored to reduce its impacts on the environment, according to new research by the University of Exeter.

Climate change scientists should think more about sex

Urgent need to check how males and females respond differently to ocean acidification.

Antibiotics can boost bacterial reproduction

The growth of bacteria can be stimulated by antibiotics, scientists at the University of Exeter have discovered.

Mammal testing could be cut by moth larvae

The number of mammals used in animal testing could be cut dramatically and replaced with moth larvae.

Breakthrough by Exeter cell biologists

We all need contacts – how organelles hug in cells

Why hospital antibiotic management strategies do little to curb resistance

With an alarming growth in antibiotic resistance and doctors increasingly having to resort to last-chance antibiotics to save patients, is there a better way for hospitals to manage antibiotic treatment regimens?

Exeter research helps protect loggerhead turtles

A long-running research and conservation project is helping save an at-risk species of turtle.

PREDICTS database shines a light on ‘dark data’- making projected biodiversity responses to human pressures freely available

Despite a commitment being made during the 1993 Convention on Biological Diversity to reduce the rate of global biodiversity loss by 2010, indicators of species richness and abundance continue to show unrelenting declines.

Climate change has mixed effects on migratory geese

Climate change improves the breeding chances of migratory geese in the Arctic – but puts mother geese at more risk of death, according to a new study.

Using ‘fire to fight fire’ to combat disease, including cancer, could make it worse, tests show

A treatment billed as a potential breakthrough in the fight against disease, including cancer, could back-fire and make the disease fitter and more damaging, new research has found.

Ash dieback: Insect threat to fungus-resistant trees

Ash trees which can resist the killer dieback fungus may be more vulnerable to attacks by insects, according to new research.

Mass insect migrations in UK skies

As Britain voted for Brexit amid furious debate over migration, trillions of migrants were coming and going, unseen by all but the sharpest eyes.

Internet data could boost conservation

Businesses routinely use internet data to learn about customers and increase profits – and similar techniques could be used to boost conservation.

From English beavers to burrowing bees, NatureWatch is back

An English beaver and her young steal the spotlight in the latest captivating episode of NatureWatch, released today.

Beach litter study finds rise in polystyrene foam, balloons and fishing nets

Researchers from the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory have studied the findings from beach litter surveys carried out over a ten year period.

Electronic Tracking of Song Birds Shows Roads and Urban Features Influence Choice of Gardens

Bird feeders visited more often in suburban gardens than terraced streets.

Universities unite with industry to foster next generation researchers

The University of Exeter is part of a newly awarded £19 million doctorial training partnership programme with industry leaders.

Microplastics’ Impact on Human Health Needs “Urgent Research,” says leading expert

One of the world’s foremost marine pollution experts has welcomed today’s (Monday) announcement that there will be a Government review into the impact of microplastics on human health.

Production of seedless fruits an under-estimated tool for improving food security, research shows

The opportunity to produce bountiful levels of vital food crops such as apples, tomatoes and watermelons could be boosted by reducing a crop’s demand for pollinators, new research has shown.

First UK assessment of underwater noise published

The first assessment of underwater noise in the UK marine environment has been carried out by a research partnership including the University of Exeter.

Hundreds of bat deaths at wind farms could be prevented, finds new research

Hundreds of bat deaths at on-shore windfarms in the UK could be prevented by better risk assessments and simple changes to the operation of turbines.

Bees use multiple cues in hunt for pollen

Bees use a variety of senses and memory of previous experiences when deciding where to forage for pollen, research by the University of Exeter suggests.

Large-scale study reveals new insights into coral and symbiotic algae partnership

A large-scale study of Caribbean coral has yielded discoveries on the pairing process between an endangered coral and the microscopic symbiotic algae they rely on for survival.

Food supply – not ‘live fast, die young’ mentality – makes male crickets chirpy

Shedding a few pounds might be a good strategy in the human dating game, but for crickets the opposite is true.

Classrooms connect with science through skype: bringing plastics to the people

Research at the University of Exeter goes live this month, with scientists investigating microplastic pollution beaming their work straight into schools.

New warning over spread of ash dieback

The ash dieback fungus could spread more quickly and affect more trees than previously expected, according to research at the University of Exeter.

Take advantage of evolution in malaria fight, scientists say

Scientists could harness the power of evolution to stop mosquitoes spreading malaria, according to new research by the University of Exeter and the University of California, Berkeley.

No evidence climate change boosts coffee plant disease

Fears that climate change is promoting a fungal disease which can devastate coffee crops may be unfounded, research by the University of Exeter suggests.

Wanted: Hedgehogs, Dead or Alive

The public have been urged to help solve the mystery of why one of Britain’s best-loved animals, the hedgehog, is in decline.

Climate Change Impairs the Survival Instincts of Fish and Can Make Them Swim Towards Predators

Fish farms may hold key to studying the impact of rising CO2 on marine life, and if fish could adapt to climate change.

Scientists search for regional accents in cod

Fish may have regional accents and use slightly different “chatter” in different parts of the world.

Large animals, such as the imperious African elephant, most vulnerable to impact of human expansion

Some of the most iconic giants of the animal kingdom, such as the imperious African elephant and the majestic lion, are most vulnerable to the detrimental impact of human expansion.

International Success for Six Early Career Researchers

Six talented early career researchers have received international recognition for their research efforts.

Exeter scientists awarded prestigious Royal Society University Research Fellowships

Three outstanding early-career scientists from the University of Exeter have been bestowed with prestigious fellowships from the Royal Society.

Coastal wildlife more vulnerable to microplastics than expected

Coastal dwelling marine wildlife, including crabs, lobsters and shellfish, which play a crucial role in the food chain, are more vulnerable to harmful plastic pollution than previously expected.

Consistency builds cohesion - the art of group success

New research finds that fish with consistent and predictable personalities are more successful in social groups and help to build tighter and more coordinated shoals.

Ocean fronts attract ocean wanderers – foraging gannets on the front line

Foraging seabirds use oceanic fronts as an efficient means to forage for food, according to an international study that could help safeguard the future of protected species.

Are our pharmaceuticals a burden on aquatic life?

What happens when pharmaceuticals reach the marine environment? Marine biologists from Exeter have published the results of their recent investigations in Environmental Science & Technology last month. In their article, they highlight the impact that human pharmaceuticals can have on aquatic species.

More than one in ten UK species threatened with extinction, new study finds

Climate change, urban expansion and agricultural intensification blamed for risk to some of Britain’s best loved species

A long shadow cast by our chemical past

The production of many insecticides such as DDT has now been banned in Europe and most of the rest of the world. However, high traces of these chemicals can still be found in fish today near where production sites used to be.

Rotten egg gas could help protect diabetics from heart complications

A gas that was formerly known for its noxious qualities could help people with diabetes recover from heart and blood vessel complications.

University of Exeter welcomes call for ban on microbeads in cosmetics

A University of Exeter academic has welcomed calls from MPs for a ban on the use of microbeads in cosmetics because of the marine pollution they are causing.

Biological invasions threaten biodiversity, economy and human livelihood in developing countries

Invasions from alien species threaten the economies and livelihoods of residents of some of the world’s poorest nations.

Climate change alters the rules of sperm competition in the sea

The impact of climate change on global seawater conditions could change the rules of sperm competition for many important marine species.

Sea habits of migratory birds highlight conservation need in the Canary Current

Scientists have tracked the behaviour of seabirds migrating across the Atlantic to better understand how these animals use the marine environment.

Exeter professor honoured for world-class fish research

A University of Exeter marine biologist has won a prestigious award for his world-class work in the field of fish ecology.

Shining a light in the dark: Glowing sharks DNA reveals distinct populations

An international team, led by Dr Andrew Griffiths, has been investigating the population structure of the deep sea velvet belly lanternshark, known for its luminous blue glow, in an effort to protect them from fisheries bycatch.

Tiny microbe turns tropical butterfly into male killer, scientists discover

A scientist from the University of Exeter has helped to identify a male-killing microbe in a tropical butterfly called the African Queen.

Scavenger crows provide public service, research shows

Crows are performing a useful function and keeping our environment free from rotting carcasses, research carried out at the University of Exeter in Cornwall has discovered.

Exeter expert delivers talk to UN on ocean plastic pollution

A marine pollution expert from the University of Exeter has given a high level presentation at the United Nations headquarters.

Night-time light pollution causes Spring to come early

Human use of artificial light is causing Spring to come at least a week early in the UK.

Birds pushed to the edge by floods

A flock of cranes that ended up at the centre of a once-in-200-year flood has given researchers a rare insight into how wildlife copes with extreme weather.

In pheasant harems, bigger is not always better

Too many females in a wild pheasant harem harms the ability of the group to spot predators, experts from the University of Exeter have found.

Scientists uncover route for finding out what makes individuals nice or nasty

A University of Exeter scientist has helped develop an innovative mathematical model for exploring why some individuals evolve to be genetically programmed to be nice, while others stay nasty.

University of Exeter researchers offer local clubs and societies £1,000 team challenge

Researchers at the University of Exeter are inviting groups of people from across Cornwall to take part in a fun experiment.

Major outbreak of pest moth spotted in Cornwall

Millions of moths that destroy vegetable crops have been spotted in Cornwall by a University of Exeter expert.

Camouflage influences life-and-death decisions that animals make

Nesting birds time their escape from an approaching predator depending on how well camouflaged their eggs and their own bodies are.

Risk-taking in birds is more contagious at certain times, research shows

Birds copy one another when trying new foods but will take more risks when doing so at different times of year.

Roads “a serious threat” to rare bats

Roads present a serious threat to bat populations, indicating that protection policies are failing.

Genetic switch that turned moths black also colours butterflies

The same gene that enables tropical butterflies to mimic each other’s bright and colourful patterning also caused British moths to turn black.

How to organise a cell: novel insight from a fungus

University of Exeter researchers have found novel insight into the ways cells organise themselves.

City birds are less afraid of litter says Exeter researcher

Urban birds are less afraid of litter than their country cousins according to a new study co-authored by a University of Exeter academic.

New £1M facility to reveal the secrets of marine microbial communities one member at a time

University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory have unveiled a state of the art facility for the study of environmental microbes.

Too much sex causes genitals to change shape, beetle study shows

Sexual conflict between males and females can lead to changes in the shape of their genitals, according to research on burying beetles.

Pregnant mothers may shield unborn young from damage and risk their own mortality

Mammals can protect their unborn young from harmful chemicals in their blood even at the expense of their own survival odds.

Citizen science game is “Big Brother for bugs”

A citizen science website game akin to “big brother for crickets” allows participants to take part in important hands-on research using insects.

Conservation laws need reshaping to protect sea turtles, research finds

Researchers call for socio-economic influences to be factored into future protection policies

Exeter marine plastics expert to advise parliamentary select committee

A University of Exeter expert on marine pollution will be giving advice to a cross-party committee of MPs at the Palace of Westminster in London today (Monday).

Sonic net could save birds and aircraft, study suggests

Introducing a noise net around airfields that emits sound levels equivalent to those of a conversation in a busy restaurant could prevent collisions between birds and aircraft.

£100,000 grants for two medical research leaders of the future

Two talented researchers from the University of Exeter have each been awarded £100k to further their work.

Low concentrations of oxygen dramatically changes the toxicity of a metal pollutant to fish embryos

Low concentrations of oxygen in water systems, hypoxia, results in dramatic changes in how toxic copper is to fish embryos, new research has shown.

Exeter scientists call on public to look and listen out for cuckoos

Devon residents are being asked to record cuckoos seen or heard in the county as part of an ongoing conservation project.

Genetic diversity helps to limit infectious disease

New research by University of Exeter academics shows that genetic diversity helps to reduce the spread of diseases by limiting parasite evolution.

Improving the lives of coastal communities in Central Africa

University of Exeter experts will work to improve the livelihoods of coastal communities and conserve marine life in Central Africa.

 

Divers and researchers help protect UK reef habitats

Divers and experts are calling for more action to protect biodiversity-rich UK rocky reefs for the future.

Mediterranean loggerhead turtles dying in waters off the Middle East and North Africa

Thousands of loggerhead turtles are killed annually in areas of Syria, Libya and Egypt and Tunisia where they travel to find food.

Sushi-bar-coding in the UK: another kettle of fish

CRITICALLY-endangered species of fish are being sold in sushi restaurants in the UK without adequate labelling.

Green light stops sea turtle deaths

Illuminating fishing nets is a cost-effective means of dramatically reducing the number of sea turtles getting caught and dying unnecessarily.

Changes to environment helps protect young pheasants

Making changes to the early lives of young pheasants can help prevent them dying needlessly, University of Exeter researchers have found.

Microsporidia: tiny parasites destabilising global ecosystems

An international consortium of scientists including researchers from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences (CEFAS) and Dr. Bryony Williams from the University of Exeter have published a new review uncovering the direct impacts and drivers of microsporidian disease infecting a diverse range of animal taxa.

Female animals look drab to avoid sexual harassment, study shows

A new explanation for why female animals are usually less colourful and decorated than their male counterparts has been suggested by scientists from the University of Exeter – it could be to avoid sexual harassment.

There she blows? Unlocking the mysteries of deep ocean cetaceans

Researchers use genetic tools to reveal new insights into populations of the secretive Gray’s beaked whale throughout the waters of New Zealand and across to West Australia.

Real-life aliens extremely efficient at turning their hosts into new parasites

The way parasitoid wasps feed may be gruesome, but it is an extremely efficient way to exploit prey, University of Exeter research has found.

£90K investment gives undergraduates more chances to learn in the world class Aquatic Resources Centre

Dr Gregory Paull, Manager of the Aquatic Resources Centre (ARC) (with support from Elizabeth James) recently applied and received £90,000 from the HEFCE STEM Teaching Capital to upgrade facilities and purchase new specialist equipment for the ARC.

Beetles assert dominance by being a lover not a fighter, new research shows

Beetles that demonstrate same-sex sexual behaviour may be asserting dominance over rival males without having to resort to fighting, a new study has shown.

The overlooked commotion of particle motion in the ocean

Most aquatic species sense sound via particle motion, yet few studies on underwater acoustic ecology have included measurements of particle motion.

Intense competition for reproduction results in violent mass evictions

Intense levels of reproductive competition trigger violent evictions of male and female banded mongooses from their family groups, University of Exeter researchers have found.

New vaccine could save thousands of lives

Work led by University of Exeter experts could help to protect thousands of people from an often fatal disease found in most tropical regions.

Exeter student wins £1000 prize for pioneering plastics research project

A University of Exeter student has won a top £1,000 research award for her pioneering work into plankton and plastic.

Marine microplastics: Not just a drop in the ocean

The University of Exeter’s Professor Tamara Galloway and Dr Ceri Lewis have published a new commentary in the journal PNAS this week, highlighting the importance of a recent study on microplastics and their impact on the survival and reproduction of marine invertebrates.

Combined effects pose a challenge in predicting coastal futures

A new study, led by Dr Ceri Lewis at the University of Exeter, has highlighted physiological differences in the way two keystone species respond to environmental copper toxicity under near-future ocean acidification scenarios, raising concerns that we may be underestimating the impact of ocean acidification on coastal marine species exposed to persistent pollution. 

Deception and trickery are rife in natural world, scientist says in new book

A University of Exeter academic is the author of a new book that describes how animals and plants use ingenuity and cunning to exploit and mislead one another in order to survive and reproduce.

Scientists - Think more broadly to predict wildlife climate change survival

Scientists studying whether species can adapt to climate change should not simply focus on how far they can move, says a conservation biologist at the University of Exeter.

Motorboat noise gives predators a deadly advantage

The rate that fish are captured by predators can double when boats are motoring nearby, according to pioneering work led by a University of Exeter marine biologist.

Bee virus spread manmade and emanates from Europe

The spread of a disease that is decimating global bee populations is manmade, and driven by European honeybee populations, new research has concluded.

Stress in fish from noise may be short-lived, new research shows

Two commercially important fish species can rapidly recover from stress attributed to short-term exposure to man-made underwater noise pollution, new research has shown.

Competition between mothers starts in the womb, new study suggests

Female mammals, including humans, may try to outcompete one another by producing bigger babies, ground-breaking research conducted by scientists at the University of Exeter has suggested.

Camouflage really does reduce the chances of being eaten

A ground-breaking study has confirmed the long held assumption that camouflage protects animals from the clutches of predators.

Lizards camouflage themselves by choosing rocks that best match the colour of their backs

New research shows wild Aegean wall lizards found on Greek islands choose to sit on rocks that better match their individual colouring.

Land management could help wildlife beat the challenges brought by climate change

The harmful effects of climate change on wildlife habitats can been counteracted by localised land management, a new research paper has suggested.

Promiscuity could reduce benefits of successful mating, research shows

Mating with a large number of partners may not be as good an indicator of success as it appears, new research has shown.

Plastic ingestion means less energy available for growth in shore crabs

A new study, led by Dr Andrew Watts at the University of Exeter, has shown that the ingestion of tiny plastic rope fibres by shore crabs leads to a reduction in food intake resulting in less energy available for growth.

Small males have more sex appeal, new research shows

Female burying beetles are more attracted to small partners because they are less likely to get into fights, a study by researchers at the University of Exeter has found.

Scientist helps bring Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef into UK homes

A marine biologist from the University of Exeter has taken part in a David Attenborough series which is giving viewers unprecedented interactive access to the Great Barrier Reef via an innovative new website.

£2M grant to reduce major aquaculture diseases

The University of Exeter and the Centre for the Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences (Cefas) are leading on a £1.97M BBSRC-Newton Fund project.

A far from perfect host

Biologists at the universities of Exeter and York have published new research which shows that an ancient symbiosis is founded entirely on exploitation, not mutual benefit.