Activities & Events

  • BEGIN seminar – Dr Orit Peleg

    Date: 16 February 2021
    Time: 15:00-16:00
    Venue: The link for the event will be sent on the morning of the 16th those that RSVP

    Please RSVP at begin.standrews@gmail.com until Mon 15th of February to receive the link.
    All welcome!

    The physics of firefly communications: Principles and predictions

    Fireflies offer a unique and rare glimpse into animal communication. Their signal comprises a species-specific on/off light pattern repeated periodically, used by individual fireflies to advertise themselves to potential mates. Detecting individuals becomes increasingly challenging at high densities of fireflies. In this talk, I will explore how fireflies approach this problem while using physics and information-theory concepts, e.g., energetic cost and compression (minimization of bits representing information) and detectability (high signal-to-noise-ratio). The first approach involves signal amplification via synchronization within swarms containing tens of thousands of individuals. Our recent quantitative measurements of the three-dimensional spatiotemporal flashing pattern of synchronous firefly swarms allow us to validate a set of mathematical models that account for short-range spatial correlations and the signal’s emergent periodicity. The second approach involves the evolutionary design of light patterns with increased detectability at other individuals’ expense. Using a computational model, we observe an emergent periodicity in the resulting optimal sequences and demonstrate a method of reconstructing potential cost functions from the phylogenetic relationships of extant species alongside their characteristic flash patterns.

    Biography

    Orit Peleg is a broadly trained physicist with a passion for living systems. Her research is aimed at understanding how organisms buffer themselves against large environmental fluctuations and accommodate adaptation over a wide range of length and time scales. This includes protein assemblies that remain intact under varying external mechanical and chemical stimuli, beetles that navigate using volatile celestial cues, and honeybee clusters that change their morphology to both withstand mechanical stresses, and to regulate their bulk temperature. Peleg is an Assistant Professor at the Computer Science Department and the BioFrontiers Institute at the University of Colorado Boulder. She draws from a multidisciplinary background; She holds a B.S. in physics and computer science and an M.S. in physics from Bar-Ilan University in Israel. She then moved to Switzerland to get her Ph.D. in materials science at ETH Zurich, and then to Boston for a Postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University in first chemistry, and then applied mathematics.

  • BEGIN seminar – Ms Morgan Crowley

    Date: 19 January 2021
    Time: 15:00-16:00
    Venue: The link for the event will be sent on the morning of the 19th those that RSVP

    Please RSVP at begin.standrews@gmail.com until Mon 18th of January to receive the link.
    All welcome!

    Mapping and analyzing Canadian wildfires in Google Earth Engine

    Each year, fire seasons in forested Canada are becoming increasingly variable due to the changing climate. Earth observation data is a useful way to map these unpredictable fires as they grow across the country’s vast, fire-prone regions. However, single-date and single-sourced imagery of active fires often contain clouds, flares, smoke, and haze, creating inconsistencies when evaluating burned areas over time. In my research, I apply rapid and scalable methods to synthesize information on fire progressions using freely available satellite imagery, novel image fusion algorithms, and cloud-based data processing platforms to improve upon existing fire mapping techniques. Building upon a small prototype for one 2017 fire, I applied these data fusion methods for fire progression mapping using Landsat-7, -8, Sentinel-2, and MODIS (MCD64A1 burned-area dataset) for the 2017 and 2018 British Columbia fire seasons. Using these outputs, I calculated within-year, intra-annual fire progression metrics to compare satellite-derived fire behaviours between the 2017 and 2018 fire seasons, both at the whole fire season and the individual fire level. The ultimate target of this research is to reconstruct historic wildfire progressions, cross-validate fire behaviour models, and compare fire progression metrics between historic fires and fire seasons in Canada. These methods can provide information about active wildland fire progressions to improve our understanding of fire growth and associated drivers over space and time.

    Biography

    Morgan Crowley is a Ph.D. Candidate at McGill University in the Department of Natural Resources. In her research, she fuses classifications from multiple satellite sensors to map and analyze wildfire progressions and burned areas in Canada. All of her research is done in Google Earth Engine in collaboration with the Canadian Forest Service. Outside of her research, Morgan enjoys facilitating the Ladies of Landsat organization and spending time with her dog, Athena.

  • BEGIN seminar – Dr Hannah Williams

    Date: 08 December 2020
    Time: 15:00-16:00
    Venue: The link for the event will be sent on the morning of the 8th those that RSVP

    Please RSVP at begin.standrews@gmail.com until Mon 7th of December to receive the link.
    All welcome!

    Cost-efficient movement decisions in a dynamic landscape

    An animal’s cost of movement is determined by a combination of locomotion and environmental energies. This is defined by their energy landscape, a heterogeneous landscape of costly slopes and substrates or beneficial water currents and airflows, where movement is more or less costly, respectively. However, in dynamic and unpredictable environments it is notoriously difficult to locate favourable flows. So how do animals inform probabilistic movement decisions for reduced movement costs? Soaring birds have evolved an obligate dependence on the energy available in airflows, gliding between updrafts as energy hotspots to gain the height needed to travel cheaply without having to use flapping flight. Using Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs) I record movement at ultra-fine scales to investigate how vultures and condors gain lift from updrafts and to identify the conditions under which they are forced to use expensive flapping flight. I then theorise that in the same way that we can ‘reconstruct’ the energy landscape (using IMUs and dead-reckoning), animals may gain up-to-date information by observing the movements of other soarers in their environment as a strategy to increase certainty in movement decisions.

    Biography

    My academic life started as an undergraduate in zoology at the University of St Andrews, where a project tagging killer whales with Volker Deecke and Patrick Miller brought me into the world of Bio-logging. I then went on to an MRes at Exeter University using geolocators and stable isotopes to investigate the foraging behaviour of gannets while on Migration. I completed my PhD and first postdoctoral position at Swansea University’s Laboratory for Animal Movement (SLAM) researching space-use in soaring birds. Here I focused on the use of movement sensors to quantify flight performance of vultures and condors. I am now based at the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior where I am investigating the use of social information to optimise movement efficiency. Again with a focus on soaring species, exploring how animals may optimise cost-efficiency of movement when moving through dynamic and unpredictable environments.

  • BEGIN seminar – Dr Richard Streeter

    Date: 24 November 2020
    Time: 15:00-16:00
    Venue: The link for the event will be sent on the morning of the 24th to those that RSVP

    Please RSVP at begin.standrews@gmail.com until Mon 23rd of September to receive the link.
    All welcome!

    Using UAVs (drones) to assess spatial patterns of erosion in a high-latitude rangeland, Iceland

    High-latitude areas are experiencing rapid change: we therefore need a better understanding of the processes controlling soil erosion in these environments. In this talk I describe how drones were used as part of a spatiotemporal approach to investigate soil erosion in Svalbarðstunga, Iceland (66°N, 15°W), a degraded rangeland. We used three complementary datasets: (a) high- resolution unmanned-aerial vehicle imagery collected from 12 sites (total area ~0.75 km2); (b) historical imagery of the same sites; and (c) a simple, spatially-explicit cellular automata model. We found that there was no simple relationship between location along the environmental gradient and the spatial characteristics of erosion. The importance of abiotic processes to the growth of large erosion patches and their relative insensitivity to current environmental conditions makes it likely that the total eroded area will continue to increase, despite a warming climate and reducing levels of grazing pressure. I will also talk about how future research plans in this area will use UAVs.

    Biography

    Dr Richard Streeter is a Lecturer in Environmental Geography at the University of St Andrews. His research focusses on three main areas: volcanic ash (tephra); human-environment interactions over the Holocene, and spatial patterns of land-degradation over decades-centuries.

  • BEGIN seminar – Ms Sian Green

    Date: 15 September 2020
    Time: 15:00-16:00
    Venue: The link for the event will be sent on the morning of the 15th to those that RSVP

    Please RSVP at begin.standrews@gmail.com until Mon 14th of September to receive the link.
    All welcome!

    Using camera traps to monitor wildlife at local and national scales

    Remotely activated cameras, commonly known as camera traps or trail cameras are an increasingly popular method used in wildlife research. Camera traps cause only a low level of disturbance and can be used to help answer a range of ecological questions, from occupancy and population density to movement and animal behaviour. They can be used to answer such questions at a range of spatial scales, but appropriate survey design is imperative in order to provide reliable data. Camera distribution, placement and set up can all influence the data that is collected. In this talk I will describe two examples of how camera traps can be used to answer ecological questions at very different scales, one from a short-term study of a 14km wildlife corridor in Kenya, and the other from a long-term UK wide citizen science mammal monitoring project, MammalWeb. Within this I will discuss some of the challenges faced when using camera traps for research and monitoring as well as some of solutions currently being put forward.

    Biography

    Sian Green an IAPETUS DTP funded PhD student in the Departments of Anthropology and Biology at Durham University, supervised by Prof. Russell Hill and Dr. Philip Stephens. I am currently working with the citizen science project ‘MammalWeb’ and my research focuses on analysing methods for camera trap data collection and public engagement. Previous work includes research on the Mount Kenya Elephant Corridor while studying for an M.Res at Southampton University.

  • BEGIN seminar – Prof Ana Basiri

    Date: 29 July 2020
    Time: 15:00-16:00
    Venue: The link for the event will be sent on the morning of the 29th to those that RSVP

    Please RSVP at begin.standrews@gmail.com until Tue 28th of July to receive the link.
    All welcome!

    Extracting 3D maps of cities from blockage and attenuation of Positioning signals

    3-Dimensional (3D) models of cities are beneficial or even essential for many applications, including energy consumption modelling, emergency evacuation and responses, positioning and navigation (particularly for autonomous cars and drones in urban canyons), and Building Information Modelling (BIM). This talk discusses the crowdsourcing-based approach to create accurate 3D models from the blockage and attenuation of the free-to-use and globally-available data of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) and other available signals such as WiFi. The effects of urban features, such as buildings and trees, on GNSS signals, i.e. signal blockage and obstruction, and attenuation will help to recognise the shape, size, and materials of urban features, through the application of statistical, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) techniques. The spatio-temporal patterns will be used for creating and updating the 3D models of cities at a high level of detail (LoDs), i.e. approximating the façade and the building materials, e.g. windows, from which the signals are reflected or have gone through. The 3D models will feed into 3D-mapping aided GNSS positioning (and integrated with other signals e.g. WiFi) which can ultimately provide more continuous and accurate GNSS positioning in urban canyons and indoors.

    Biography

    Professor Ana Basiri holds a chair position in Geospatial Data Science at the University of Glasgow and is a UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellow, and the Editor in Chief of Journal of Navigation. Ana works on developing solutions that consider gaps, unavailability, and biases in crowdsourced data as a useful source of data. For this, she leads an interdisciplinary team and collaborates with world-leading academic and industrial partners, including Ordnance Survey GB, Uber, Alan Turing Institute, and engage with the public, policymakers and government. She has published more than 40 peer-reviewed journal papers and book chapters, chaired several conferences, and received several awards and prizes, including Women Role Model in Science by Alexander Humboldt and European Commission Marie Curie Alumni.

  • BEGIN seminar – Dr Yhasmin Moura

    Date: 23 June 2020
    Time: 15:00-16:00
    Venue: Online

    The link for the event will be sent on the morning of the 23rd to those that RSVP to begin.standrews@gmail.com.

    Please RSVP until Mon 22nd of June.
    All welcome!

     

    Resiliency, functioning and processes of tropical forests: A view from the above

    The Amazon rainforest covers about 40% of the South American continent and is the world’s biggest tropical forest. The Amazon alone holds about 10 per cent of the world’s known biodiversity in their terrestrial, fresh water and marine ecosystems. However, they remain subject to high levels of deforestation, fragmentation, selective logging and fires. The ongoing exposure of tropical ecosystems to these anthropogenic pressures has significant consequences to biodiversity, livelihoods of local and indigenous communities, and substantial concerns about the future of tropical forests as a component of the global climate system. In this seminar, Dr. Yhasmin will be presenting her previous and current research where she is working on the development of new approaches, based on earth observation data, to access carbon dynamics and climate sensitivity of Amazonian forests. On her presentation, she will cover some of her research focusing on the understanding of forest resilience, functioning and process of Amazon forests and how this changing ecosystem will face global climate change.

    Biography

    Yhasmin is a Remote Sensing researcher and a love reader, whose work is inspired by ecological and environmental functioning and how natural ecosystems will face the daunting task of assessing climate change. She holds a Royal Society Newton International Fellowship at the Centre for Landscape and Climate Change, University of Leicester – UK. Her project aims to unveil vegetation functioning and carbon dynamics over degraded and secondary forests in the Amazon.

  • BEGIN seminar – Dr Yhasmin Moura

    Date: 17 March 2020
    Time: 15:00-16:00
    Venue: School VI

     

    Resiliency, functioning and processes of tropical forests: A view from the above

    The Amazon rainforest covers about 40% of the South American continent and is the world’s biggest tropical forest. The Amazon alone holds about 10 per cent of the world’s known biodiversity in their terrestrial, fresh water and marine ecosystems. However, they remain subject to high levels of deforestation, fragmentation, selective logging and fires. The ongoing exposure of tropical ecosystems to these anthropogenic pressures has significant consequences to biodiversity, livelihoods of local and indigenous communities, and substantial concerns about the future of tropical forests as a component of the global climate system. In this seminar, Dr. Yhasmin will be presenting her previous and current research where she is working on the development of new approaches, based on earth observation data, to access carbon dynamics and climate sensitivity of Amazonian forests. On her presentation, she will cover some of her research focusing on the understanding of forest resilience, functioning and process of Amazon forests and how this changing ecosystem will face global climate change.

    Biography

    Yhasmin is a Remote Sensing researcher and a love reader, whose work is inspired by ecological and environmental functioning and how natural ecosystems will face the daunting task of assessing climate change. She holds a Royal Society Newton International Fellowship at the Centre for Landscape and Climate Change, University of Leicester – UK. Her project aims to unveil vegetation functioning and carbon dynamics over degraded and secondary forests in the Amazon.

  • Speed Talks organized by the Animal Movement and Spatial Ecology Discussion Group and BEGIN

    Date: 3rd of March
    Time: 10:00-12:00
    Venue: Corner meeting room at the Scottish Oceans Institute

    The Animal Movement and Spatial Ecology Discussion Group includes researchers from across the university interested in animal movement and spatial ecology.

    We invite you to our next meeting where we plan to share our work through speed talks and then to have coffee, tea and cakes.

    The speed talks can be from 30 seconds to 2 minutes with 1 or 2 slides and should be a quick overview of your work (at any stage) and are also an opportunity to raise something specific that you’d like to discuss with someone afterwards. The talks will be followed by informal discussions.

    The ‘corner meeting room’ of the new SOI building at East Sands is upstairs in the front right corner if you are looking out to the sea.

    What you need to do:
    1. RSVP to Rob Patchett (rbp3) by midday on Friday 21st (this Friday!) if you plan to attend so that we can arrange refreshments.
    2. Send Rob Patchett (rbp3) your slide(s) by Friday 28th (there will be a reminder next week).

    Thank you,

    Rob, James and Urska

     

  • BEGIN seminar – Dr David McArthur

    Date: 18 February 2020
    Time: 15:00-16:00
    Venue: School VI

    Understanding and promoting cycling using crowdsourced data

    Cycling is increasingly seen as a way of dealing with a variety of social problems: from dealing with the climate emergency to improving public health. Unfortunately, in the UK cycling is not a common mode choice. Governments have made money available to encourage more people to get on their bikes. A large portion of this money has been spent on new infrastructure. However, it hasn’t always been easy to evaluate whether this is effective due to a lack of appropriate data. In recent years, the proliferation of smartphones and activity-tracking apps such as Strava has made new, detailed mobility data available to researchers. In this talk, I will present some of the ways we have been making use of this data at the Urban Big Data Centre (UBDC).

    Biography

    David McArthur is Senior Lecturer in Transport Studies and Associate Director of the Urban Big Data Centre at the University of Glasgow. An economist by training, his current work looks at how new and emerging forms of data can be used to better understand cities; with a particular focus on the promotion of walking and cycling as modes of transport.