Tagged / environment

Study reveals risks from carp parasite

A joint Bournemouth University(BU) & Environment Agency (EA) study, published in the Public Library of Science journal ‘PLoS One’, has revealed how infections of the tapeworm Bothriocephalus acheilognathi affect juvenile carp Cyprinus carpio in fisheries in England andWales.

CarpDr Chris Williams from the EA said: “This work provides important evidence about how alien parasites can cause harm to our fish populations. It gives us a better understanding of the risks these parasites pose to fish, the environment and our fisheries.”

The study showed the parasite comprised up to 12 % of an infected carp’s body weight. The tapeworm was always found in the intestine, causing considerable damage. Infected fish were found to be lower in weight, growing more slowly and feeding on less nutritive foods.

Dr Robert Britton, who led the study from BU’s ecology department, said: “It was highly apparent that infected carp suffered multiple pathological and ecological consequences, suggesting fisheries infected with Bothriocephalus will be damaged.”

The fact that carp fisheries and the recreational value of carp fishing are worth millions of pounds to the UK economy means it is vital to prevent infection. Fortunately, the Asian tapeworm is currently subject to strict regulation inEnglandandWalesby the Environment Agency.

Dr Williams continued: “We will use this knowledge to advise our regulation of fish movements and the advice we provide to fishery managers to minimise the spread and impact of these parasites.”

Migration and Climate Change

The Migration and Global Environmental Change Report (commisioned by government) has been published today. The report warns of the serious implications of climate change for the world’s poorest people, who will be forced to migrate away from sterile land. The report suggests that migration will need to be managed – which is in itself controversial because migration is usually seen as a bad thing by aid agencies. Further, unless carefully managed, migration often gives rise to unrest and conflict, particularly where the migrants either impose an extra burden or are unwelcome by those living in the areas to which they migrate. Some difficult issues will need to be planned for – unfortunately such issues are often low down the priority in terms of planning .

The report can be accessed at:

http://www.bis.gov.uk/foresight

 

Rio plus 20

As we move into the run up for Rio plus 20 a number of colleagues in the UK are seeking to influence the thinking of key delegates and power brokers (unfortunately the UK delegates are not announced yet). November 1st is the deadline for receiving formal submissions which will be considered for the text to be negotiated at the Summit (compilation text). 

The EAUC is asking members to input their views.

http://www.eauc.org.uk/giving_eauc_members_a_powerful_international_vo

 It is critically important that the role of education in relation to sustainable development does not slide off the table. My colleague Professor Daniella Tilbury has been engaged in the PreComs and has alerted that there is a real danger that the dialogue is moving away from the Agenda 21 vision and UN DESD, to focus on technical and specialist training approaches (with little reference to learning based change and social community learning). There is still time to influence (sustainability will not be achieved by technical solutions alone – it requires education and behaviour change) and to stress the importance of ESD. You can influence either through EAUC or Education Caucus, or other channels you may have access to

To find out more about the processes leading up to Rio

http://www.earthsummit2012.org/

Or

http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/

 If you have ideas about influencing it would be interesting to hear them.

At the same time as the Summit there is a World Symposium on Higher Education and SD. The call for papers is still open

http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/index.php?page=view&type=13&nr=289&menu=27nd

 If you are developing research for Rio it would be great to hear about it

Funding for Environmental Research

Foundation for Research of Natural Resources in Finland: Grants for Environmental Research: These grants are open to research groups involving talented young researchers for projects promoting the sustainable utilisation of Finnish natural resources. In 2011 the majority of the grants were worth between €30,000 and €50,000. Deadline 30.09.11

European Science Foundation Short Visit & Exchange Grants for Climate Change: These grants are for short visit and exchange grants related to climate change manipulation experiments/ Exchange grants are supported with a weekly subsistence allowance of €400 for up to six weeks, plus travel expenses to a maximum of €500. Short visit grants are to last for up to 15 days and are reimbursed on a per diem basis of €85 plus travel expenses to a maximum of €500. Deadline 01.10.11

BU REF preparations – next mock exercise underway

Hot on the heels of our REF light-touch review of outputs last winter, our subsequent mini-mock exercise in two UOAs, and the release of the final REF Guidance on Submissions and draft panel criteria documentation, BU’s next mock REF exercise is now underway.

The BU winter 2011 mock will concentrate solely on the impact and environment elements of the submissions (i.e. individual outputs will not be reviewed). During the autumn term BU Unit of Assessment (UOA) Leaders have been asked to produce 2-3 impact case studies, an impact statement and an environment statement for each UOA. These will be sent to the external reviewers (at least 2 per UOA) in early December, and feedback will be shared with the UOA Leaders in February 2012.

The next review of outputs is planned for spring 2012.

These mock exercises are intended to shape and craft our submissions to REF2014 to ensure we put forward the strongest submissions possible.

If you have any questions or suggestions regarding our internal preparations for the REF then send me an email 🙂

Overview of the REF draft panel criteria – what are the subtleties between panels?

At the end of July the REF team released the draft panel working methods and criteria documentation (see our previous blog post for access to the documents).

We’ve spent the week wading through the four main panel documents and have produced a very brief overview of the subtleties between the panels on key criteria (such as the use of citation data, co-authored outputs, additional environment data, etc) in a tabular format.

You can access the overview table here: REF – draft panel criteria comparison table

Unfortunately this is no substitute for reading the actual documentation (sorry!) but does highlight the key points and differences between panels.

These documents are currently open to sector-wide consultation until 5 October 2011. BU will be submitting a single institutional response coordinated by the Research Development Unit. BU staff are invited to submit feedback for consideration as part of this response. Please email all comments to Anita Somner by 20 September 2011.

European focused funding available

The Central Europe Programme offers funding for projects on the facilitating innovation across Central Europe; improving accessibility to, and within, Central Europe; using our environment responsibly; enhancing competitiveness and attractiveness of cities and regions. The budget for this call is at least €22.5 million and the recommended funding amount is €1m to €2.5m per project. Closing date: 14 October 2011

BU on the EU stage

Recent research conducted by a team in the School of Applied Sciences (ApSci) has highlighted the need for a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to environmental management and policy development.  It is a project which is well placed in BU’s movement towards research focused on societal themes and aims to establish how stakeholder values of their local environment can be used to improve the effectiveness of ecosystem management creating stronger links between citizens and policy makers.

This European collaboration is nearing completion. The Transactional Environmental Support System Project (TESS), supported by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission was coordinated by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (www.tess-project.eu) and involved several ApSci staff.  The rationale for this project had its foundations in the move towards citizen-driven environmental governance and policy development.  The aim of TESS was to provide a platform through which biodiversity information collected at a local level can be incorporated into policy development and land-use management.  Could a system of this type encourage local communities to have more involvement in collection of these important data, and a greater role in the maintenance and restoration of their local environment and ecosystem services?

The project involved partnership with 14 other institutions from 10 different European countries. The project identified what information is required by both local land users and policy makers in order to develop effective environmental policy which will benefit both biodiversity and economic development.  The results were tested through 11 local case studies which were then used to further develop the TESS portal (due to go online in the next month or so).  BU’s involvement with the project has allowed us to develop strong, collaborative relationships with a number of institutions across Europe, linking strongly with the University’s desire to become more active on the European stage. 

During the project, the ApSci team, including Prof. Adrian Newton, Dr. Kathy Hodder, Lorretta Perrella, Jennifer Birch, Elena Cantarello, Sarah Douglas, James Robins and Chris Moody, carried out a local case study within Dorset’s Frome Catchment Area.  This case study site falls within the Dorset AONB and includes a SSSI, Local Nature Reserves, National Nature Reserves and Special Areas of Conservation. We were able to incorporate local knowledge and opinion into a novel evaluation of the ecosystem services and biodiversity benefits that might be realised through implementation of SW Biodiversity Implementation Plan. Such strategies have the implicit assumption that working on a landscape-scale to develop ‘ecological networks’ should have potential to  facilitate adaption to climate change, increase ecological ‘resilience’ and  improve the UK’s ability to conform to international policy commitments, such as the Habitat Directive.  However, it is accepted that the cost of the ecological restoration required for such initiatives could be substantial and little work has been conducted on cost-benefit analysis of restoration initiatives.  The work carried out by BU for the TESS project addressed the knowledge gap surrounding the cost effectiveness of ecological restoration approaches to climate change adaptation.

We currently have a paper in review with the Journal of Applied Ecology based on this work. It shows that spatial Multi Criteria Analysis could be used to identify important ecological restoration zones based on a range of criteria, including those relating to ecosystem services, biodiversity and incorporating the values of a range of stakeholders.  This tool could be of direct value to the development of ecological networks in the UK as a climate change adaptation measure.  Such tools developed through TESS may enable future plans for ecological restoration to incorporate local stakeholder values, improving the chances of societal benefits and long-term success of the schemes.

The wider results of the TESS project were presented at a conference in May 2011, hosted by the European Parliament Intergroup at the European Parliament in Brussels.  BU was represented at the conference by one of our postdoctoral researches, Emma McKinley.

Health and Wellbeing (Wei-Jun Liang, Kevin McGhee and David Osselton)

Author: Kevin McGhee, Wei-Jun Liang, M. David Osselton (ApSci)

Alternative name suggestion:

Living with environmental change – Health and Wellbeing in the Fast-changing Environments

Functional Genomics and Integrated Systems Biology

Brief theme summary: 

In the dynamic and fast-changing natural or social environments, we are exposed to a variety of pollutants, drugs, viruses and deadly pathogens. As the ages of our population are rising, so are degenerative diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular and Alzheimer’s diseases. Therefore, understanding those environmental impacts on human health and aging is paramount and becomes one of the top priorities in the vision of RCUK.

Differences in genetic make-up between individuals and different populations make us respond differently to harmful agents including prescribed medicinal drugs, beneficial to some or detrimental to others.  The desire to understand detailed mechanisms in order to provide better healthcare had been monumentally dispirited before we were able to reveal the detailed differences in our genomes. Ever since the completion of human genome sequencing in 2004, the advancement in genome sciences in conjunction with that of environmental sciences provides opportunities for substantiating the improvement of human health and wellbeing as well as management of  healthcare of aging populations. Since the genomic sequences of many other important organisms have also been determined, comparative genomic studies between humans and amongst other organisms is currently the most powerful way to unravel the intricate interrelationships of human health and environment. In the post-genome era, this newer vision of biological sciences driven by the concept of systems biology is currently pursued internationally.

With our expertise in molecular biology, human genetics, toxicology and analytical chemistry as well as some of the essential equipment, we can take advantage of functional genomics in order to drive the research theme in human health and wellbeing, and aging, in relation to environmental, social and cultural factors.

Scope of theme: what is included?

 Our current on-going research embraces the following areas:

 Pharmacogenomics

  • Molecular networks of integrin-linked mechanical signalling in relation to human heart disease – Bioimaging (in collaboration with Professor Jiang Jun Zhang of Media School and Professor Adrian Podoleanu of Kent University).
  • Impacts of SNP (genetic variations) on the toxicities of methadone amongst populations (in collaboration with Professor David Paunder of Dundee University).
  • Impacts of SNP (genetic variations) on the efficacy of morphine in patient pain management (collaboration with Tamas Hikish of Royal Bournemouth Hospital and Dr Joy Ross of Royal Marsden Hospital in London).

Biodiversities and conservation

  • Evaluation and protection of local red squirrel populations in Dorset (in collaboration with Dr Kathy Hodder).
  • Evaluation and protection of local Padina species to exploit their economic potential (in collaboration with Dr Roger Herbert).
  • Molecular mechanisms of pheromone-communications of diverse species (in collaboration with Professor Rudy Gozlan).
  • DNA profiling for human and animal identifications in the fields of anthropology and archaeology.

Our topics of interests in the immediate future:

  • Human vitamin C transport and its impact on human degenerative diseases, such as cardiovascular and Alzheimer’s diseases.
  • Human detoxification pathways in relation to the glucuronidation and transport, and personalised medicine (in collaboration with Prof Stephen Wong of Wake Forest University, USA)
  • Molecular mechanisms of infectious diesease (in collaboration with Professor Rudy Gozlan).

Scope of theme: what is excluded? Not sure.

Which big societal questions are addressed by this theme?

Humans are exposed to a variety of pollutants, drugs, viruses and deadly pathogens in the modern fast-changing environments. Degenerative diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular and Alzheimer’s diseases are often associated with aging. To effectively maintain human health and wellbeing, understanding those environmental impacts on human health and aging using the approaches of functional genomics and systems biology is paramount and becomes one of the top priorities in the vision of RCUK.

How do these link to the priorities of the major funding bodies?

Health and well being is one of the most important research areas funded by some of the CRUK, namely, the BBSRC, the Wellcome Trust, the MRC, the Royal Society, from which we could sort future funding.

Our proposed research theme fits very well to the underlined strategic research priorities of the Two Current Research Priority Themes of the MRC:

  • Resilience, repair and replacement (Natural protection, Tissue disease and degeneration, Mental health and wellbeing, and Repair and replacement).
  • Living a long and healthy life (Genetics and disease, Life course perspective, Lifestyles affecting health, Environment and health).

As highlighted by the BBSRC, systems biology is the pivotal approach for addressing issues in human health, aging and diseases. It is an effective way forward to study human health in the aspects of epidemiology, such as parasites, virus, and infectious disease. Our research theme also fits well to strategic research priorities of the BBSRC, in exploiting new ways of working were outline as:

  • Data driven biology
  • Synthetic biology
  • Systems approaches to the biosciences
  • Technology development for the biosciences 

Our research theme also fits well to The CrossCouncil Priorities outlined by the BBSRC:

The Wellcome Trust also focuses on health and wellbeing associated with functional genomics. The Royal Society promotes international collaborations, and is encouraging collaborative studies on human health, wellbeing and aging impacted by population single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) coincided with human life style and different ethnicities in the diverse living environments.

To follow the strategies outlined by RCUK in promoting 3Rs (Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research), we propose to use the cost-effective and well characterised model organisms, fruit-fly and zebra fish to study the molecular mechanisms in conjunction with survey data from human subjects.  The genome information of those model organisms is known and the organisms are amendable to genetic defects and molecular manipulations.  Moreover, at least 75% of human disease genes have their counterparts in their genomes. 

How does this theme interlink with the other BU themes currently under consideration?

Our research theme is complementary to the existing research in HSC and will be of interest to local hospitals and communities. Although a small team, we have the expertise in molecular biology, toxicology, and analytical chemistry with some of the essential equipment. Our current research orientations already fit well with the remit of our university research and enterprise strategies. We certainly would like to contribute to the existing theme of research orientations, particularly, health and well being, aging, environmental sciences, and social and cultural sciences within the university. Our expertise will enable us to form close link with the existing research groups that have already formed critical mass, particularly in the ApSci and HSC.

Through our research, we have already formed strong links with the Media School of BU and Physics Department in the University of Kent for bioimaging and biomodelling. We have already submitted a strong interdisciplinary research proposal to the MRC, addressing the impacts of genome on heart diseases. We will maintain this collaborative consortium and continuously formulate research proposals to address issues involved in human health and wellbeing.  We have also established strong links with Dr Helen Machitia of Glasgow University, Joy Gill of Imperial College School of Medicine for collaborative research in science and society.

Since we already have the expertise and facilities in fish studies in the School of Applied Sciences, it is logial and efficient to use the well characterised model organism, zebra fish to address questions in human health, fish conservation and environment issues.

Policies recommended to boost green growth and innovation in the EU

The OECD report Towards Green Growth provides advice for governments to boost growth and protect the environment at the same time. It recommends tax and competition measures aimed at conserving natural capital and states governments should add innovation policies that encourage an efficient and sparing use of natural resources. Suggested policies include “temporary support measures” to promote the uptake of efficient technologies against the dominance of existing ones. The report also suggests policy measures to make pollution more expensive, such as taxes or permit systems.

FP7 Ocean of Tomorrow 2012 Information Day – relevant for food, agri, biotch, energy, enviro & transport

The European Commission is organising an Information Day for the 2012 Ocean of Tomorrow co-ordinated topics, which will be included in the 2012 Work Programmes of the FP7 Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnologies (FAFB), Energy, Environment and Transport themes. The event will take place in Brussels but will also be webstreamed live.