Other Bern events

Ecological Dynamics

Past event - 2024
15 May Entry from 7 p.m.
Start at 7.30 p.m.
free entry (subject to availability)
Krone Bar, Postgasse 59
3011, Bern
Explore the interconnected wonders of nature with talks on altruistic animal behavior, the impact of grazing on soil health, and addressing gender bias in biology.

Altruism among animals

Michael Taborsky (Professor at Institute of Ecology and Evolution, University of Bern)
Altruism is a central issue in human behaviour. Its evolution and the biological precursors are a hotly debated conundrum in biology, as at first glance the genetic fitness effects of altruistic behaviour seem to contradict Darwinian evolutionary theory. I will present research on different forms of altruistic behaviour among insects, fishes and mammals demonstrating that altruistic behaviour can be produced and stabilised by natural selection. Key players are relatedness among actors and different forms of reciprocal exchange.

Following the movements: assessing soil health and environmental impacts of grazing

Alejandro Romero-Ruiz (Postdoctoral scientist at Agroscope, Zürich, Switzerland)
Grasslands cover two thirds of all agricultural lands globally and provide food and livelihoods for millions of people. However, it is estimated that 20-50% of the world’s grazed grasslands are degraded. In this talk, I discuss the adverse environmental consequences of grazing and the current strategies to mitigate them. I present a novel approach to, based on tracking cow movement patterns, assess the impact of different grazing practices in soil health. Finally, I describe how this approach can be used to derive insights of long-term effects of grazing on the environment and, with this, to help developing sustainable grazing techniques.

Going beyond the gender bias in biology research

Camille Thomas-Bulle (Postdoctoral researcher at University of Denver and at University of Bern)
Sex is an expensive affair, biologically speaking. In many species with distinct sexes, the cost of reproduction is unequal: eggs are costly and scarce, while sperm are abundant and tiny. Finding a suitable mate and raising offspring also consumes time and energy. Charles Darwin's patriarchal worldview led him to interpret animal behavior through the prism of aggressive males and passive females, dismissing female agency. I will present my work on the evolution of animal weapons and rhinoceros beetles to illustrate how studies centered on females can change our perspective of the animal kingdom.
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