EcolChange seminar: Evelyn Uuemaa about global digital elevation models and Global Forest Change dataset

Seminar of Department of Botany and Centre of Excellence EcolChange

SpeakerDr. Evelyn Uuemaa is an Associate Professor in Geoinformatics at the University of Tartu. Her research interests evolve around the interactions of land use/land cover and water quality, landscape changes and geospatial modelling with machine learning. 

Title of the talk: Global digital elevation models and Global Forest Change dataset – how reliable are they?

Time: Thursday, 22 April 2021 at 14.15

Place: Virtual seminar in Zoom

Summary: The number of global datasets is increasing every day. They are being exploited more and more in global studies but also in areas where local data is not available. In this presentation, I will talk about the vertical accuracy of freely available global digital elevation models (ASTER, AW3D30, MERIT, TanDEM-X, SRTM, and NASADEM), and secondly, I will show how much forest change can be identified from the Global Forest Change dataset in the Amazon and in Estonia. 

Photo by Birgit Püve
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EcolChange seminar: Eve Veromann about ecosystem services and RNAi technology in the service of sustainable agriculture

Seminar of Department of Botany and Centre of Excellence EcolChange

Speaker: Prof. Eve Veromann is a Professor at the Chair of Plant Health at the Estonian University of Life Sciences. Her research focuses on the implementation of ecosystem services for the sustainable ecosystem. 

Title of the talk: Ecosystem services and RNAi technology in the service of sustainable agriculture

Time: Thursday, 8 April 2021 at 14.15

Place: Virtual seminar in Zoom

Summary: Meeting the increasing demand for agricultural products while minimising their negative impact on biodiversity and ecosystem health is among the greatest global challenges. Modern agriculture depends greatly on agrochemical inputs which is not a sustainable farming practice in the long term. Landscape elements can contribute to the provision of essential ecosystem services such as pollination and pest control. The establishment, adequate management and restoration of landscape elements is a promising pathway for ecological intensification. In addition to ecological intensification, also innovative RNAi technology can be used to make insecticides highly species-specific to decrease their detrimental impact on beneficial insects.

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EcolChange seminar: Jhonny Capichoni Massante about phylogenies in ecology

Seminar of Department of Botany and Centre of Excellence EcolChange

Speaker: Jhonny Capichoni Massante is a PhD student at the University of Tartu who will defend his PhD thesis in May.

Title of the talk: Phylogenies in ecology: overview, applications, and case studies

Time: Thursday, 1 April 2021 at 14.15

Place: Virtual seminar in Zoom

Summary: The interest in the evolutionary history of species has increased tremendously over the last 20 years. From species coexistence to conservation strategies, the way evolution influences contemporary biodiversity patterns has helped overcome the conceptual and practical limitations of only counting species. This seminar will give an overview of evolutionary trees and their different applications in ecology and conservation biology. It will finish with case studies on how climate and other environmental factors influence species’ evolutionary relatedness in biological communities. 

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EcolChange seminar: Kalle Kirsimäe about tracing fossilized microorganisms in rock record

Seminar of Department of Botany and Centre of Excellence EcolChange

Speaker: Prof. Kalle Kirsimäe is a Professor of Geology and Mineralogy at the University of Tartu. His research covers wide range of geological topics from developing best technologies for using oil shale to nutrient dynamics during the oxygenation of the Earth. 

Title of the talk: Biogenic or abiogenic: tracing fossilized microorganisms in rock record

Time: Thursday, 25 March 2021 at 14.15

Place: Virtual seminar in Zoom

Summary: Life in its different forms and signs is self-evident around us. In deep-time geological record, however, nothing looks like as expected. Fossilization of the microbial life represents the worst case. In most cases we do not know what we are looking at. Can we distinguish between biogenic or abiogenic structures if there is no chance for sequencing the PCR products or even the organic carbon is absent? 

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EcolChange seminar: Raul Vicente about Deep Learning and its useful applications

Seminar of Department of Botany and Centre of Excellence EcolChange

Speaker: Prof. Raul Vicente is a Professor of Data Science at the University of Tartu. In his research he focuses on developing Artificial Intelligence.  

Title of the talk: Deep Learning: what it is and some useful applications

Time: Thursday, 18 March 2021 at 14.15

Place: Virtual seminar in Zoom

Summary: In this talk, we will discuss the essential idea behind deep learning, the technique that is fuelling modern Artificial Intelligence (AI), and some of its applications to computer vision and biology. Finally, we will discuss when deep learning is readily applicable to your dataset and when not, and which other methods of AI one can consider for analysing complex data.

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EcolChange seminar: Tsipe Aavik about how citizen scientists helped to reveal the secret sex life of cowslips

Seminar of Department of Botany and Centre of Excellence EcolChange

Speaker: Dr. Tsipe Aavik is an Associate Professor of Macroecology at the University of Tartu. Her research focuses on habitat fragmentation effects on biodiversity. Dr. Aavik is leading the citizen science project “Looking for Cowslips”.

Title of the talk: Citizen scientists help to reveal the secret sex life of cowslips

Time: Thursday, 11 March 2021 at 14.15

Place: Virtual seminar in Zoom

Summary: “No little discovery of mine ever gave me so much pleasure as making out the meaning of heterostyled flowers,” wrote Charles Darwin in his autobiography. Now, nearly 160 years after Darwin’s landmark study on this peculiar reproductive feature of cowslips – heterostyly – a citizen science campaign in Estonia has brought novel insights into the fascinating mating system of cowslips. In the talk, I will give an overview of heterostyly and will introduce the main findings of the citizen science initiative, which expands to Pan-European scale in the forth-coming spring.

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EcolChange seminar: Kati Orru about human and environmental well-being

Seminar of Department of Botany and Centre of Excellence EcolChange

Speaker: Dr. Kati Orru is an Associate Professor of Sociology of Sustainability at the University of Tartu. Her research focuses on human-environment interactions.

Title of the talk: Interactions of human and environmental well-being

Time: Thursday, 04 March 2021 at 14.15

Place: Virtual seminar in Zoom

Summary: The presentation gives an overview of the studies carried out by the environmental sociology team and partners. I give some insights to our studies on the human-environment interactions from the perspectives of health, social inclusion and safety. I focus on study results regarding challenges like climate crisis, energy crisis and air pollution from the historical as well as current perspectives.

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Join the pan-European citizen science campaign!

Ecologists from the University of Tartu, Estonia invite you to take part in a pan-European citizen science initiative ‘Looking for Cowslips‘. The cowslip campaign was piloted in Estonia for two consecutive springs in 2019 and 2020. It received a warm welcome by the public and led to exciting and surprising research findings recently published in Journal of Ecology. Therefore, we would like to broaden the geographic scope of the study to other European countries where cowslips are part of the local flora.

Our team of Landscape Biodiversity at the University of Tartu uses the cowslip (Primula veris), a characteristic grassland plant, as a model for exploring the effects of grassland loss on plants. We found that a seemingly small botanical detail, i.e. heterostyly, in cowslips may have substantial consequences for the future and well-being of this nice grassland plant. With this project we hope to collect data to improve fundamental research on plant mating systems and to provide understanding of the consequences of grassland loss for biodiversity. The task for citizen-scientists is easy and based on observing cowslip heterostyly. See the figure below illustrating the two flower types of cowslip. To find out more, see also this short animation.

We hope to find partners who could help with spreading the information about the campaign in their home country. Our team will translate the campaign materials and guidelines into local languages, including the web-tool for uploading data as well as adapt the animation into your local languages. We will coordinate the international communication and will give quick feedback about the progress of the campaign. 

We are happy to provide more details about the project. Please let us know about your interest in joining the cowslip team here. You are also very welcome to forward the invitation!

We hope that you can let us know about your tentative interest ASAP, but preferentially before the end of February. Do not hesitate to contact us for further information (info@nurmenukk.ee)!

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EcolChange seminar: Carlos Pérez Carmona about mapping and exploring the functional spectra across the tree of life

Seminar of the Department of Botany and Centre of Excellence EcolChange

Speaker: Dr. Carlos Pérez Carmona is an Associate Professor in the Macroecology workgroup at the University of Tartu. He is combining analytical tools with experimental approaches to study variation in species traits.

Title of the talk: Mapping and exploring the functional spectra across the tree of life

Time: Thursday, 25 February 2021 at 14.15

Place: Virtual seminar in Zoom

Summary: From tiny shrews and duckweeds to gigantic whales and sequoias, the extent of trait variation among organisms on Earth is extraordinary. Despite all this functional diversity, species’ ecological strategies resulting from trait combinations are constrained by physiological limits set by evolutionary history and trade-offs in resource allocation. Aiming to understand what are the main dimensions of functional variation and how species are organized within them, ecologists have recently started mapping the functional spectra of different taxonomic groups. In this seminar I will provide an overview of our most recent research undertakings, where we strive to incorporate fine root traits into the global spectrum of plant form and function, define the functional spectra of vertebrate species at different scales, and understand how they could be affected by future extinctions.

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EcolChange seminar: Junichi Fujinuma about bamboo genet structure dynamics in a tropical rainforest

Seminar of the Department of Botany and Centre of Excellence EcolChange

Speaker: Junichi Fujinuma is a postdoctoral researcher at the Macroecology workgroup of University of Tartu. During his PhD studies, he worked at the University of the Ryukyus, examining population ecology at East Asian tropics.

Title of the talk: Dynamics of the genet structure of two clumping bamboos in tropical rainforest

Time: Thursday, 18 February 2021 at 14.15

Place: Virtual seminar in Zoom

Summary: Tropical bamboos persist in a wide range of light conditions and quickly respond to changes in light availability. However, the mechanisms underpinning this ability remain unknown. In the seminar I will overview life histories of tropical bamboos in East Asia, and then focus on the dynamics of bamboo population at ramet and genet bases. The demographic responses along the gradient of light availability will shed light on how woody grasses maintain their populations in rainforest understories. 

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