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Centre for Research into Ecological & Environmental Modelling

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The Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling is an inter-disciplinary research centre at the University of St Andrews, linking researchers from the Schools of Mathematics and Statistics, Biology and Geography and Geosciences. CREEM's remit is to develop and apply advanced mathematical and statistical methods to practical problems in biology, ecology and geography.

RUWPA: Research Unit for Wildlife Population Assessment



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academic
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Bailey, Prof Rosemary Professor of Statistics
(School of Mathematics & Statistics)
rab24@st-and.ac.uk
 
Prof Rosemary Bailey

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Borchers, Prof David Professor of Statistics
(School of Mathematics & Statistics)
dlb@st-and.ac.uk
(44) (0) 1334 461843
  Wildlife Population Assessment; Fisheries Assessment; Sampling Theory
Prof David Borchers

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Buckland, Prof Steve Professor of Statistics
(School of Mathematics & Statistics)
steve@st-and.ac.uk
(44) (0) 1334 461841
  Wildlife population assessment, modelling biodiversity, population dynamics
Prof Steve Buckland

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Donovan, Dr Carl Lecturer in Statistics
(School of Mathematics & Statistics)
crd2@st-and.ac.uk
(44) (0) 1334 461802
  Non-linear models, multivariate analysis, splines, GAMs, datamining
Dr Carl Donovan

Current Research Projects

Predicting the impacts of adverse weather on power distribution networks

This is a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between ourselves and Scottish and Southern Energy. It is a 3-year project finishing at the end of 2011. We are building predictive models that will identify the likely type and location of faults given weather forcast data. This provides the basis of a cost-benefit analysis for resource distribution e.g. the deployment of resource crews/materials and the probable extent of customer power interruptions. Several other research paths have already branched from this main thread.

Risk mitigation for low-frequency military sonar

There is concern about the potential impacts of new powerful low-frequency sonars (typically military) on the marine environment, marine mammals in particular. We have been collaborating with commercial partners in the production of software that quantifies potential impacts on marine mammals and advises on mitigation possibilities. This software is currently deployed in its first version and is the result of 2 years collaboration. Further extensions and variants are currently being developed. 

Smoothing over complex 2D surfaces

 

 





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Gaggiotti, Prof Oscar MASTS Professor
(School of Biology)
oeg@st-and.ac.uk
01334 463513
  Ecology, population genetics, evolution and conservation biology
keywords:
Biodiversity, Ecological modelling, Evolutionary biology, Statistics
Prof Oscar Gaggiotti

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Hammond, Prof Philip Professor
(School of Biology)
psh2@st-and.ac.uk
01334 463222
  Population dynamics, ecology and foraging behaviour of seals and cetaceans
keywords:
Conservation biology, Ecology, Marine biology, Marine mammals, Population biology
Prof Philip Hammond

Population dynamics and ecology

Foraging behaviour and diet of seals and cetaceans. Estimation of animal abundance. Statistical and mathematical modelling of marine mammal population parameters and processes. Interactions between marine mammals and man: management of whaling, cetacean bycatch in fisheries, seal-fishery interactions; conservation of vulnerable species.




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Harwood, Prof John Professor
(School of Biology)
jh17@st-and.ac.uk
  Population and conservation biology
keywords:
Biodiversity, Ecological modelling, Environmental modelling, Marine biology, Statistics
Prof John Harwood

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Illian, Dr Janine Senior Lecturer in statistics
(School of Mathematics & Statistics)
jbi@st-and.ac.uk
(44) (0) 1334 461803
  Spatial statistics
Dr Janine Illian

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MacKenzie, Dr Monique Lecturer in Statistics
(School of Mathematics & Statistics)
mlm6@st-and.ac.uk
(44) (0) 1334 461836
  GAMMs; GEEs; Repeated measures/longitudinal data; spatially adaptive smoothing
Dr Monique MacKenzie

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Magurran, Prof Anne Professor
(School of Biology)
aem1@st-and.ac.uk
01334 463506
  Fish behaviour and evolution
keywords:
Behavioural biology, Evolutionary biology, Zoology
Prof Anne Magurran
magurran

Anne with the model cormorant used to test the anti-predator response of piranhas.

 

Evolution of adaptive variation in fish communities; antipredator behaviour; speciation; species diversity and conservation of freshwater fish in the neotropics (Brazilian Amazon, Mexico and Trinidad) and UK.

 

Upper Aripo River, Trinidad

Much of my group's work is on the Trinidadian guppy, Poecilia reticulata, a species that has become a model system for investigating evolution in action. We are examining the evolution of reproductive isolation between fish in the Caroni and Oropouche drainages in Trinidad. These river systems have been separated for 1-2 million years. Although the guppies in them can still interbreed if given the opportunity, some post-mating reproductive barriers are already evident. For example, sperm from the female's own river system outcompete foreign sperm, and hybrid offspring formed when guppies from the two drainages are crossed are less viable than pure-bred fish. This research is being done with Anna Ludlow and Stephen Russell.

Northern Range, Trinidad.

Other investigations using the guppy concern aspects of mating behaviour (with Kit Magellan), the effect of thermal regime on behaviour and development (with Lars Pettersson), mutiple mating (with Alfredo Ojanguren) and interactions between guppies and their sister species Poecilia picta (with Indar Ramnarine of the University of the West Indies) .


Anne and Helder tagging piranhas prior to release back to the wild.

I am also interested in the evolution of schooling behaviour. Helder Queiroz (of the Mamirau· Sustainable Development Institute) and I are studying red-bellied piranhas, Pygocentrus nattereri, in the flooded forests of the Brazilian Amazon. Although piranhas are widely depicted as vicious, pack-hunting predators, in fact they are themselves preyed upon by river dolphins, caiman, piscivorous fish such as the pirarucu, and fish-eating birds including cormorants. Our work is showing that piranhas school as a defence against predation.
 

Esox lucius

In the UK I collaborate with Si‰n Grffiths (University of Cardiff), John Armstrong (FRS, Pitlochry) and Alfredo Ojanguren in a project on individual recognition and the benefits of associations between familiar groups of fish. We are using the European minnow, Phoxinus phoxinus, to test our ideas. The work is taking place in the artificial stream system at the Almondbank, FRS laboratory. A second project (with Lorraine Hawkins and John Armstrong) based at Almondbank is examining behavioural interactions between salmon, Salmo salar, and pike, Esox lucius - one of their most important natural predators.

 

My longstanding interest in the measurement of biological diversity and the structure of ecological assemblages is reflected in the recent publication of my book Measuring Biological Diversity.In addition, Peter Henderson (Pisces Conservation Ltd) and I are exploring changes in species abundance distributions over time.

Sigmoid display by male guppy.

Finally, I am interested in the conservation of biological diversity, particularly of freshwater fish assemblages. Constantino MacÌas Garcia (UNAM) and I are beginning to quantify the impact of introduced poeciliids on endangered fish in Mexico. I am continuing to investigate the biodiversity of freshwater assemblages in Trinidad with my colleagues there. Anuradha Bhat has recently joined the group. Her research is on fish assemblages in the Western Ghats region of India, one of the world's biodiversity hotspots. This will open up new challenges in biodiversity conservation.




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Matthiopoulos, Prof Jason Professor of spatial and population ecology, Glasgow Jason.Matthiopoulos@glasgow.ac.uk
 


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Meagher, Prof Thomas Professor
(School of Biology)
trm3@st-and.ac.uk
office 3364, lab 3347
  Plant evolutionary biology
keywords:
Biodiversity, Ecology, Evolutionary biology, Plant biology
Prof Thomas Meagher

My research interests are in parentage analysis, quantitative genetics, phenotypic evolution, sexual dimorphism, evolutionary genomics of plants, and societal applications of science

Research Group

Doctoral Students

  • 2007-present  Ms Malin Rivers. Conservation status and conservation genetics of Delonix in Madagascar.
  • 2003-2007 Dr. Mark Looseley. A Comparative investigation of nuclear DNA content and its phenotypic impacts in Silene marizii and S. latifolia
  • 1994-2000 Dr. Jessica Wright . The effects of positive and negative selection on floral characters in natural population of Silene latifolia. Currently a Conservation Geneticist, USFS, University of California, Davis, CA, USA
  • 1990-1997 Dr. Elizabeth Elle. Sex allocation and reproductive success in a perennial hermaphrodite, Solanum carolinense. Currently Associate Professor, Department of Biology, Simon Fraser University
  • 1989-1995 Dr. Deborah Sheely . The ecological impact of genetic diversity on seedling recruitment in a tropical tree Campnosperma brevipetiolata (Anacardiaceae). Currently a Program Officer with USDA Competitive Grants.
  • 1998-1993 Dr. Diane Byers . The genetic consequences of rarity in Eupatroium resinosum. Currently an Associate Professor at Illinois State University.

Postdoctoral Fellows

  • 2005-2006 Dr. Rebecca Yahr , Ph.D. Duke University (advisors Dr. R. Vilgalys and Dr P. Depriest) population biology and genetics of lichen symbioses. Research Fellow, RBGE.
  • 2000-2004 Dr. Christine Vassiliadis , Ph.D. University of Lille (advisors Dr. P. Vernet and Dr Saumitou-Laprade) evolution and maintenance of androdioecy. Lecturer, University of Orsay
  • 1990-1994 Dr. Denise E Costich , Ph.D. University of Iowa (advisor, Dr. H. F. Howe) evolution of dioecy in plants. Cornell University/Boyce Thompson Institute
  • 1989 Dr. Lynda F. Delph . Ph.D. University of Canterbury, New Zealand (advisor Dr. D. G. Lloyd) gender specific resource allocation in plants Associate Professor, Indiana University.

Parentage analysis & quantitative genetics

I have a long-standing interest in the application of statistical methods of genealogical inference to the analysis of the structure and genetic dynamics of natural populations. Applying likelihood methods that originated in forensic analysis of human paternity, the assignment of male parentage in plant populations provides information on gene flow and impacts of specific phenotypic traits on male reproductive success. Specific contributions in this area have included development of likelihood models for paternity analysis, application of such models to understating the structure of a range of plant populations, and the delelopment of a Windows-based software package, PatQuest, for conducting such analyses. Present work in this area includes development of statistical methods for the integration of likelihood-based paternity inference with REML estimation of quantitative genetic parameters, to be applied to natural populations where standard multigenerational quantitative genetics experiments are not practical. In addition, models for investigating gene flow, based on approaches derived from paternity analyses, have been applied to investigation of gene flow in transgenic cultivars.

  • Meagher TR (1986) Analysis of paternity within a natural population of Chamaelirium luteum . I. Identification of most-likely male parents. American Naturalist . 128: 199-215.
  • Meagher TR, Thompson EA. (1987) Identification of parentage for seedlings within a natural population of Chamaelirium luteum . Ecology 68: 803-812.
  • Thompson EA, Meagher TR (1998) Genome sharing and the estimation of pairwise relationship. Theoretical and Applied Genetics 97: 857-864.
  • Smouse PE, Meagher TR, Kobak CJ (1999) Parentage analysis in Chamaelirium luteum (L.) Gray (Liliaceae): why do some males have disproportionate reproductive contributions. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 12: 1069-1077.
  • Elle E, Meagher TR (2000) Sex allocation and reproductive success in the andromonoecious perennial, Solanum carolinense (Solanaceae). II. Paternity and functional gender. American Naturalist 156: 622-636.
  • MeagherTR, Vassiliadis C (2003) Spatial geometry determines gene flow in plant populations. Hails RS, Beringer JE, Godfray HCJ (eds.) Genes in the environment. Pp. 76-90.
    Oxford, UK, Blackwell Science Ltd. Meagher T., Belanger FC, Day PR (2003) Using empirical data to model transgene dispersal. Trans. Royal Society (London) B 358: 1157-1162.

 

 

Sexual dimorphism and sex-specific selection

 

 

Reproductive success as male or female parents in plants is based on very different pathways, subject to sex-specific processes of selection. In dioecious species, long-term consequences of such sex-specific selection can lead to sexual dimporphism in a wide range of traits, from the molecular level to the ecological. My interest in this area began with an investigation of resource allocation and life history impacts of such in Chamaelirium luteum (Liliaceae, pictured above), a flowering plant that exhibits extreme sexual dimorphism in inflorescence structure. More recent work on this phenomenon has focused on floral dimorphism in the dioecious Silene latifolia , which has a well-established genetic basis for sex determination, and a shorter life-span that is more amenable to genetic investigation.

  • Meagher TR (1984) Sexual dimorphism and ecological differentiation of male and female plants. Annals Missouri Botanical Garden 71: 254-264.
  • Meagher TR (1994) The quantitative genetics of sexual dimorphism in Silene latifolia . II. Responses to sex-specific selection. Evolution 48: 939-951.
  • Delph LF, Meagher TR (1995) Sexual dimorphism masks life history trade-offs in the dioecious plant Silene latifolia . Ecology 76: 775-785.
  • Meagher TR, Delph LF (2001) Individual flower demography, floral phenology, and life history in Silene latifolia . Evolutionary Ecology Research 3: 845-860.
  • Costich DC, Meagher TR (2001) Impacts of floral gender and whole-plant gender on floral evolution in Ecballium elaterium (Cucurbitaceae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 74: 475-487.
  • Wright JW, Meagher TR (2004) Selection on floral characters of natural Spanish populations of Silene latifolia . Journal of Evolutionary Biology , in press.
     

Evolutionary genomics and phenotypic evolution

My investigations into the genetic basis of floral dimorphism in flower size in Silene latifolia have inexorably led to a more detailed analysis of the genetic basis of flower size in general. As this is a quantitative trait, initial investigations involved quantitative genetics approaches. More recently, a link has been established between quantitative variation in flower size and genome size/organization. This latter discovery has led to a phylogenetic investigation of the relationship between genome size and flower size evolution across related taxa, and a joint QTL analysis of flower size and DNA content.

Present work in this area is exploring the possible role of specific repetitive sequences, such as retrotransposons, in DNA content variation associated with flower size evolution. We are also investigation the role of such DNA content variation in contributing to reproductive isolation between species.

  • Meagher TR, Costich DE (1994) Sexual dimorphism in nuclear DNA content within and between populations of Silene latifolia . American Journal of Botany 81: 1198-1204.
  • Meagher TR, Costich DE (1996) Nuclear DNA content and floral evolution.Proceedings of the Royal Society (London), Series B 263: 1455-1460.
  • Meagher TR (1999) The quantitative genetics of sexual dimorphism. In Sexual dimorphism in plants , M. Geber, T. Dawson, and L. Delph, eds. Springer-Verlag New York.

 


Societal applications of science

Science is conducted within a broader societal context, and indeed is based on support derived from that context in the form of government financing. As a practicing scientist, one has an obligation to identify connections between basic research and potential application to societal needs. My activities in this area have been several fold. First, I have applied methods of paternity analysis and other analytical tools from evolutionary biology to the issue of gene flow from transgenic cultivars to adjacent ruderal populations. On a science policy level, I was a co-chair of a US national initiative on Evolution, Science and Society, which was directed towards outlining the importance of scientific contributions of evolutionary biology, I have served as a founding and current member of the Society for the Study of Evolution 's Education Committee, and I am presently a member of the Science Advisory Council of the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

 

  • Meagher TR (1999) Evolution and today's society. BioScience 49: 923-925.
  • Meagher TR, Futuyma DJ (eds) (2001) Evolution, Science and Society: evolutionary biology and the national research agenda. California Journal of Science Education 1: 19-32.
  • Meagher TR, Futuyma DJ (2001) Executive document: Evolution, science, and society - Foreword: Evolution in the century of biology. American Naturalist 158: 1-46 Suppl. S.
     

Science is conducted within a broader societal context, and indeed is based on support derived from that context in the form of government financing. As a practicing scientist, one has an obligation to identify connections between basic research and potential application to societal needs. My activities in this area have been several fold. First, I have applied methods of paternity analysis and other analytical tools from evolutionary biology to the issue of gene flow from transgenic cultivars to adjacent ruderal populations. On a science policy level, I was a co-chair of a US national initiative on Evolution, Science and Society, which was directed towards outlining the importance of scientific contributions of evolutionary biology, I have served as a founding and current member of the

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Papathomas, Dr Michail Lecturer in Statistics
(School of Mathematics & Statistics)
mp67@st-and.ac.uk
(44) (0) 1334 461818
  Bayesian statistics, model selection, dimensionality reduction, Biostatistics, genetics, elicitation
Dr Michail Papathomas

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Popov, Dr Valentin Teaching Fellow
(School of Mathematics & Statistics)
vmp@st-and.ac.uk
(44) (0) 1334 461807
 
Dr Valentin Popov

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Smout, Dr Sophie Lecturer
(School of Biology)
scs10@st-and.ac.uk
01334 461829
  Predator life history and trophic interactions
keywords:
Ecological modelling, Environmental modelling, Marine biology, Statistics
Dr Sophie Smout

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Thomas, Dr Len Reader
(School of Mathematics & Statistics)
lt5@st-and.ac.uk
(44) (0) 1334 461801
  Statistical ecology; Computer-intensive statistical methods
Dr Len Thomas

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Worthington, Dr Hannah Teaching Fellow
(School of Mathematics & Statistics)
hw233@st-and.ac.uk
(44) (0) 1334 461806
  Integrated Stopover Models for Mark-Recapture Data
Dr Hannah Worthington

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