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2011 News

Invisible fungi crucial for rainforest diversity

A complex network of fungi in the lower canopy could be one reason tropical rainforests are home to so many different types of insects, spiders and centipedes, say scientists.

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Why locusts swarm

New research has found that a protein associated with learning and memory plays an integral role in changing the behaviour of locusts from that of harmless grasshoppers into swarming pests.

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A cockroach that jumps

Professor Malcolm Burrows and colleagues from South Africa have written a paper that shows that a newly discovered species of cockroach jumps, unlike the 4000 other cockroaches which merely scuttle around.

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EMBO Young Investigator Programme

22 young European scientists have been selected for excellence in research to join the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) Young Investigator Programme and one of those Young Investigators is Dr Irene Miguel-Aliaga from the Department.

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Student Conference updates

At the start of October the Student Conference on Conservation Science (SCCS) - begun here in Zoology back in 2000 - was held for the second time in New York. The US event, hosted by the American Museum of Natural History in partnership with a consortium of east coast universities and conservation NGOs, included 400 delegates from over 30 countries.

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The future of rainforests in a changing landscape and climate

Rainforests are vanishing worldwide and their protection is of pressing concern. This special issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society outlines how human beings are shaping the future of rainforests. The focus lies on the Danum Valley Conservation Area, one of the last remaining primary forests of Malaysian Borneo and on its surrounding forest.

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Aboriginal Australians were first explorers

An old lock of hair has enabled researchers to sequence the genome of an Aboriginal Australian, and show that modern Aboriginal Australians are direct descendants of the first people to arrive there.

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Research reveals how butterflies copy their neighbours to fool birds

The mystery of how a butterfly has changed its wing patterns to mimic neighbouring species and avoid being eaten by birds has been solved by a team of European scientists. The study is published in the journal Nature.

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Sparing or sharing? Protecting wild species may require growing more food on less land

Separating land for nature and land for crops may be the best way to meet increased food demand with the least impact on wild species

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Lifting the lid on Ice Age dating

A team of scientists, led by chemists from the BioArCh laboratories, University of York, and palaeontologists from the Department of Zoology, has developed a method of dating Ice Age sediments using fossil snail shells contained within them.

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Keep your eyes on the wing…

The stunning wing patterns of Heliconius butterflies have inspired biologists since the time of Darwin. In a paper published in Science, researchers from Cambridge, California, and Panama have shown that a gene called optix is responsible for painting red patterns onto Heliconius wings.

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ZSL Scientific Medal 2010

The department is delighted to offer its congratulations to Dr Rebecca Kilner, who has been awarded a Zoological Society of London Scientific Medal.

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The true cost of saving rainforest and improving food security

New research shows that international plans to pay developing countries to reduce tropical forest destruction may increase rural poverty because critical income streams to rural people have been ignored.

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New Fellow of the Royal Society

The Department offers its congratulations to Professor Andrew Balmford who has become the latest member of the Department to be made a Fellow of the Royal Society.

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Biological arms races in birds

New research reveals how biological arms races between cuckoos and host birds can escalate into a competition between the host evolving new, unique egg patterns (or 'signatures') and the parasite new forgeries.

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A Closer Look at Counterfeit Eggs

Researchers in the Department of Zoology have a long history of studying the common cuckoo, the well-known brood parasite that lays its eggs in the nests of other species.

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Poster Competition Successes 2011

Zoology graduates have again done exceptionally well in various poster competitions recently.

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Science Festival 2011

As usual the department will be contributing to the annual Cambridge Science Festival.

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Come in No. 8 your time is up - or is it?

Insects hold atomic clues about the type of habitats in which they live. Members of the Departments of Plant Sciences and Zoology discover an 'atmospheric imprint' in insects, revealing where they are most likely to survive should climate change alter their ecosystem.

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