Sunday, January 18, 2015

The recent cold and lean months are responsible for an increased coyote presence within Lawrence city limits, local ecology officials say. However, Lawrencians need not be afraid of the more active canines. Robert Timm of the KU Biodiversity Institute said there probably hasn't been an increase in the local coyote population, nor have the creatures been displaced by construction. Most likely, he said, the animals are more active simply because of the season.

Published in the Lawrence Journal-World
 

Mammalogy
Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Andrès Lira Noriega, who has been mentored by Jorge Soberón and A. Townsend Peterson, defended and graduated with honors this week. His dissertation title was “Scale and Ecological and Historical Determinants of a Species’ Geographic range: The Case of the Vector-borne Plant Parasite Phoradendron californicum Nutt. (Viscaceae).” He is currently working as a post-doctoral researcher with Carlos Martínez del Rio at the University of Wyoming.

Biodiversity Modeling
Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Delegates are invited to register for the 21st meeting of the GBIF Governing Board (GB21), taking place at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi from 16-18 September 2014.

Official delegates and invited observers may register for the Governing Board meeting and associated events.

A symposium entitled Innovation and Impact through GBIF will be held on 17 September, and is open to the public and media, following free registration. Speakers at the symposium will present GBIF achievements in the last year, projects, policy-relevant applications and innovative uses of data accessed through GBIF. All presentations will also be available online for those unable to attend the symposium in person. Details will be given closer to the time.

Further information on the venue, programme and logistics are available here.  

Biodiversity Modeling
Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Mycetoma, a mysterious illness largely unknown in developed nations, has wreaked havoc on the health of farmers, herdsmen, children and others in close contact with the land in tropical and subtropical regions of our planet.

It’s thought the disease is contracted by coming into contact with a microorganism that lives in the soil or on a thorn from an Acacia tree.

“Two forms of mycetoma are recognized — actinomycetoma caused by a group of filamentous bacteria, and eumycetoma caused by any of 30–50 species of hyaline and pigmented fungi,” said Abdallah Samy, a Fulbright scholar and doctoral student at the University of Kansas’ Biodiversity Institute.

Recently, for his research comparing known cases of mycetoma with Acacia tree distribution in the Sudan, using a technique dubbed “ecological niche modelling,” Samy won the Young Investigator Award at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and he met billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates in the process.

Gates“A few days before the meeting, I received an email informing me I was a Young Investigator Award candidate,” Samy said. “I presented my information on mycetoma in a poster session, and then they asked for an oral presentation — and I was named the winner for the 2014 Young Investigator Award. Bill Gates was the keynote speaker of the ASTMH meeting, where he gave a talk about dealing with future epidemics like Ebola. He’s contributed a lot to the challenge of combating neglected tropical diseases around the world through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Before we knew who won the competition, I asked to take a picture with him, and he accepted.”

Samy, who is from Cairo, plans a career studying disease ecology and researching new skills to understand disease transmission and control. Working with mentor A. Townsend Peterson, University Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Samy hopes his scholarly work will improve human health around the world.

Peterson said the Young Investigator Award was a reflection of the hard work and detailed insights of his protégé.

“I was extremely pleased to hear of this recognition of Abdallah’s work and abilities, and I would say that this honor was very well-deserved,” he said. “Abdallah is an extremely promising young academic from Ain Shams University in Egypt, where he expects to return after finishing his doctoral studies at KU. He is one of a small but very effective and efficient research group working in disease ecology and biogeography at KU, and it is more than a privilege to be working with him.”

Indeed, Samy’s work on mycetoma could eventually help health workers to suppress the disease, which is not well-understood but can have devastating effects on people.

Dr. Ahmed Fahal, who treats Sudanese patients with mycetoma in his role as director of the Mycetoma Research Centre at Soba University Hospital in Khartoum, worked personally with Samy during his investigation there. Fahal underscored the seriousness of the disease to those who suffer its effects.

“It’s still challenging and hard to treat patients with mycetoma, for which the available antifungal therapy is still not optimal,” said Fahal. “In order to treat this infection, both extensive and destructive surgery and prolonged antifungal treatment are necessary. The treatment outcome is disappointing, characterized by low cure rate and frequent amputation, high patient followup dropout and high recurrence rates.”‎

Samy said he hopes his experience modeling occurrences of mycetoma in Sudan will inform his future research on other diseases through the world. Currently, with his mentor Peterson and colleagues from Sudan, Mexico and the Netherlands, he’s developing extensions of the Sudan work across Latin America and Asia. 

“Public health problems are my field of interest,” said the KU doctoral student. “I’m always intending to help people. Such work has the potential to change lives.”

-Brendan Lynch, KU News 

Photos, from top: Acacia tree (WikiCommons); Abdallah Samy with Bill Gates.

Biodiversity Modeling
Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Mycetoma, a mysterious illness largely unknown in developed nations, has wreaked havoc on the health of farmers, herdsmen, children and others in close contact with the land in tropical and subtropical regions of our planet.

It’s thought the disease is contracted by coming into contact with a microorganism that lives in the soil or on a thorn from an Acacia tree.

“Two forms of mycetoma are recognized — actinomycetoma caused by a group of filamentous bacteria, and eumycetoma caused by any of 30–50 species of hyaline and pigmented fungi,” said Abdallah Samy, a Fulbright scholar and doctoral student at the University of Kansas’ Biodiversity Institute.

Recently, for his research comparing known cases of mycetoma with Acacia tree distribution in the Sudan, using a technique dubbed “ecological niche modelling,” Samy won the Young Investigator Award at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and he met billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates in the process.

Gates“A few days before the meeting, I received an email informing me I was a Young Investigator Award candidate,” Samy said. “I presented my information on mycetoma in a poster session, and then they asked for an oral presentation — and I was named the winner for the 2014 Young Investigator Award. Bill Gates was the keynote speaker of the ASTMH meeting, where he gave a talk about dealing with future epidemics like Ebola. He’s contributed a lot to the challenge of combating neglected tropical diseases around the world through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Before we knew who won the competition, I asked to take a picture with him, and he accepted.”

Samy, who is from Cairo, plans a career studying disease ecology and researching new skills to understand disease transmission and control. Working with mentor A. Townsend Peterson, University Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Samy hopes his scholarly work will improve human health around the world.

Peterson said the Young Investigator Award was a reflection of the hard work and detailed insights of his protégé.

“I was extremely pleased to hear of this recognition of Abdallah’s work and abilities, and I would say that this honor was very well-deserved,” he said. “Abdallah is an extremely promising young academic from Ain Shams University in Egypt, where he expects to return after finishing his doctoral studies at KU. He is one of a small but very effective and efficient research group working in disease ecology and biogeography at KU, and it is more than a privilege to be working with him.”

Indeed, Samy’s work on mycetoma could eventually help health workers to suppress the disease, which is not well-understood but can have devastating effects on people.

Dr. Ahmed Fahal, who treats Sudanese patients with mycetoma in his role as director of the Mycetoma Research Centre at Soba University Hospital in Khartoum, worked personally with Samy during his investigation there. Fahal underscored the seriousness of the disease to those who suffer its effects.

“It’s still challenging and hard to treat patients with mycetoma, for which the available antifungal therapy is still not optimal,” said Fahal. “In order to treat this infection, both extensive and destructive surgery and prolonged antifungal treatment are necessary. The treatment outcome is disappointing, characterized by low cure rate and frequent amputation, high patient followup dropout and high recurrence rates.”‎

Samy said he hopes his experience modeling occurrences of mycetoma in Sudan will inform his future research on other diseases through the world. Currently, with his mentor Peterson and colleagues from Sudan, Mexico and the Netherlands, he’s developing extensions of the Sudan work across Latin America and Asia. 

“Public health problems are my field of interest,” said the KU doctoral student. “I’m always intending to help people. Such work has the potential to change lives.”

-Brendan Lynch, KU News 

Photos, from top: Acacia tree (WikiCommons); Abdallah Samy with Bill Gates.

Biodiversity Modeling
Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Mycetoma, a mysterious illness largely unknown in developed nations, has wreaked havoc on the health of farmers, herdsmen, children and others in close contact with the land in tropical and subtropical regions of our planet.

It’s thought the disease is contracted by coming into contact with a microorganism that lives in the soil or on a thorn from an Acacia tree.

“Two forms of mycetoma are recognized — actinomycetoma caused by a group of filamentous bacteria, and eumycetoma caused by any of 30–50 species of hyaline and pigmented fungi,” said Abdallah Samy, a Fulbright scholar and doctoral student at the University of Kansas’ Biodiversity Institute.

Recently, for his research comparing known cases of mycetoma with Acacia tree distribution in the Sudan, using a technique dubbed “ecological niche modelling,” Samy won the Young Investigator Award at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and he met billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates in the process.

Gates“A few days before the meeting, I received an email informing me I was a Young Investigator Award candidate,” Samy said. “I presented my information on mycetoma in a poster session, and then they asked for an oral presentation — and I was named the winner for the 2014 Young Investigator Award. Bill Gates was the keynote speaker of the ASTMH meeting, where he gave a talk about dealing with future epidemics like Ebola. He’s contributed a lot to the challenge of combating neglected tropical diseases around the world through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Before we knew who won the competition, I asked to take a picture with him, and he accepted.”

Samy, who is from Cairo, plans a career studying disease ecology and researching new skills to understand disease transmission and control. Working with mentor A. Townsend Peterson, University Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Samy hopes his scholarly work will improve human health around the world.

Peterson said the Young Investigator Award was a reflection of the hard work and detailed insights of his protégé.

“I was extremely pleased to hear of this recognition of Abdallah’s work and abilities, and I would say that this honor was very well-deserved,” he said. “Abdallah is an extremely promising young academic from Ain Shams University in Egypt, where he expects to return after finishing his doctoral studies at KU. He is one of a small but very effective and efficient research group working in disease ecology and biogeography at KU, and it is more than a privilege to be working with him.”

Indeed, Samy’s work on mycetoma could eventually help health workers to suppress the disease, which is not well-understood but can have devastating effects on people.

Dr. Ahmed Fahal, who treats Sudanese patients with mycetoma in his role as director of the Mycetoma Research Centre at Soba University Hospital in Khartoum, worked personally with Samy during his investigation there. Fahal underscored the seriousness of the disease to those who suffer its effects.

“It’s still challenging and hard to treat patients with mycetoma, for which the available antifungal therapy is still not optimal,” said Fahal. “In order to treat this infection, both extensive and destructive surgery and prolonged antifungal treatment are necessary. The treatment outcome is disappointing, characterized by low cure rate and frequent amputation, high patient followup dropout and high recurrence rates.”‎

Samy said he hopes his experience modeling occurrences of mycetoma in Sudan will inform his future research on other diseases through the world. Currently, with his mentor Peterson and colleagues from Sudan, Mexico and the Netherlands, he’s developing extensions of the Sudan work across Latin America and Asia. 

“Public health problems are my field of interest,” said the KU doctoral student. “I’m always intending to help people. Such work has the potential to change lives.”

-Brendan Lynch, KU News 

Photos, from top: Acacia tree (WikiCommons); Abdallah Samy with Bill Gates.

Biodiversity Modeling
Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Graduate student Sarah Gibson's DDIG Proposal, "DISSERTATION RESEARCH: The Evolution of Specialized Teeth and Jaws in Early Mesozoic Ray-Finned Fishes and Their Impact on Widespread Niche Differentiation,” has been funded by the National Science Foundation. The PI for the grant is Hans-Peter Schultze, and co-PIs are Sarah Gibson and Paul Selden.

The ray-finned fishes (e.g., trout, clownfish, seahorse, bass) are the most diverse group of vertebrates on Earth today and display a vast array of physical differences with regard to body shape, skull and jaw morphology, and tooth specializations. Ray-finned fishes have a long evolutionary history, and this study focuses on two extinct groups of fishes that lived during the Early Mesozoic (250-190 million years ago): the disc-shaped, deep-bodied dapediids and the torpedo-shaped, primitive redfieldiids. These two groups of fishes provide an ideal contrast (e.g., deep body versus narrow body, differences in jaws) for testing hypotheses of the impact of specialization of tooth and jaw anatomy and morphology. The researches will compare this body shape contrast with the diet, habitat preference, behavior, and niche specialization of the fish. The project will study fossils from the Early Mesozoic, a volatile time in Earth's history with global tectonic events changing the geography of the planet and shaping the diversity of organisms in different ecosystems. This research will increase our understanding of how these two groups of extinct fishes have adapted to occupy different ecological spaces and exploit different food sources. 

The research will utilize state-of-the-art two- and three-dimensional digital imaging techniques, such as micro-computed tomography (CT) scanning. These tools will measure jaw and cranial anatomy and morphology as well as tooth microwear, in well-preserved redfieldiid and dapediid fossils. Using these data the investigators of this project will be able to address hypotheses about how tooth and jaw morphology relate to ecological niche space and evolutionary history. This project will provide graduate and undergraduate training in morphological and morphometric techniques, and data obtained from this study will be catalogued in online data repositories.

Ichthyology
Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Graduate student Sarah Gibson's DDIG Proposal, "DISSERTATION RESEARCH: The Evolution of Specialized Teeth and Jaws in Early Mesozoic Ray-Finned Fishes and Their Impact on Widespread Niche Differentiation,” has been funded by the National Science Foundation. The PI for the grant is Hans-Peter Schultze, and co-PIs are Sarah Gibson and Paul Selden.

The ray-finned fishes (e.g., trout, clownfish, seahorse, bass) are the most diverse group of vertebrates on Earth today and display a vast array of physical differences with regard to body shape, skull and jaw morphology, and tooth specializations. Ray-finned fishes have a long evolutionary history, and this study focuses on two extinct groups of fishes that lived during the Early Mesozoic (250-190 million years ago): the disc-shaped, deep-bodied dapediids and the torpedo-shaped, primitive redfieldiids. These two groups of fishes provide an ideal contrast (e.g., deep body versus narrow body, differences in jaws) for testing hypotheses of the impact of specialization of tooth and jaw anatomy and morphology. The researches will compare this body shape contrast with the diet, habitat preference, behavior, and niche specialization of the fish. The project will study fossils from the Early Mesozoic, a volatile time in Earth's history with global tectonic events changing the geography of the planet and shaping the diversity of organisms in different ecosystems. This research will increase our understanding of how these two groups of extinct fishes have adapted to occupy different ecological spaces and exploit different food sources. 

The research will utilize state-of-the-art two- and three-dimensional digital imaging techniques, such as micro-computed tomography (CT) scanning. These tools will measure jaw and cranial anatomy and morphology as well as tooth microwear, in well-preserved redfieldiid and dapediid fossils. Using these data the investigators of this project will be able to address hypotheses about how tooth and jaw morphology relate to ecological niche space and evolutionary history. This project will provide graduate and undergraduate training in morphological and morphometric techniques, and data obtained from this study will be catalogued in online data repositories.

Ichthyology
Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Graduate student Sarah Gibson's DDIG Proposal, "DISSERTATION RESEARCH: The Evolution of Specialized Teeth and Jaws in Early Mesozoic Ray-Finned Fishes and Their Impact on Widespread Niche Differentiation,” has been funded by the National Science Foundation. The PI for the grant is Hans-Peter Schultze, and co-PIs are Sarah Gibson and Paul Selden.

The ray-finned fishes (e.g., trout, clownfish, seahorse, bass) are the most diverse group of vertebrates on Earth today and display a vast array of physical differences with regard to body shape, skull and jaw morphology, and tooth specializations. Ray-finned fishes have a long evolutionary history, and this study focuses on two extinct groups of fishes that lived during the Early Mesozoic (250-190 million years ago): the disc-shaped, deep-bodied dapediids and the torpedo-shaped, primitive redfieldiids. These two groups of fishes provide an ideal contrast (e.g., deep body versus narrow body, differences in jaws) for testing hypotheses of the impact of specialization of tooth and jaw anatomy and morphology. The researches will compare this body shape contrast with the diet, habitat preference, behavior, and niche specialization of the fish. The project will study fossils from the Early Mesozoic, a volatile time in Earth's history with global tectonic events changing the geography of the planet and shaping the diversity of organisms in different ecosystems. This research will increase our understanding of how these two groups of extinct fishes have adapted to occupy different ecological spaces and exploit different food sources. 

The research will utilize state-of-the-art two- and three-dimensional digital imaging techniques, such as micro-computed tomography (CT) scanning. These tools will measure jaw and cranial anatomy and morphology as well as tooth microwear, in well-preserved redfieldiid and dapediid fossils. Using these data the investigators of this project will be able to address hypotheses about how tooth and jaw morphology relate to ecological niche space and evolutionary history. This project will provide graduate and undergraduate training in morphological and morphometric techniques, and data obtained from this study will be catalogued in online data repositories.

Ichthyology
Monday, March 9, 2015

Christopher Beard and colleagues have published their first scientific paper based on field work in Libya that he and colleagues undertook just after the Libyan revolution that overthrew Qaddafi in early 2013. The paper, "A new early Oligocene mammal fauna from the Sirt Basin, central Libya: Biostratigraphic and paleobiogeographic implications,” was published in the Journal of African Earth Sciences:


Abstract
We report the discovery of a new early Oligocene vertebrate fauna from the vicinity of Zallah Oasis in the Sirt Basin of central Libya. The Zallah Incision local fauna has been recovered from the base of a fluvial channel within a rock unit that has been mapped as ‘‘Continental and Transitional Marine Deposits.’’ This rock unit has produced fossil vertebrates sporadically since the 1960s, but the Zallah Incision local fauna is the most diverse assemblage of fossil mammals currently known from this unit. In addition to lower vertebrates, the fauna includes an indeterminate sirenian, the anthracothere Bothriogenys, a new species of the hyracoid genus Thyrohyrax, new species of the hystricognathous rodent genera Metaphiomys and Neophiomys, Metaphiomys schaubi, and a new species of the parapithecid primate genus Apidium. The Zallah Incision local fauna from Libya appears to be close in age to Fayum quarries V and G in the Jebel Qatrani Formation of Egypt and the Taqah locality in the Ashawq Formation of Oman. Considered together, these early Oligocene faunas support a modest level of faunal provincialism across the northern part of Afro-Arabia during the early Oligocene.

Vertebrate Paleontology