Science News

University of Manchester researchers present their work to IB Biologists

Thanks to an ongoing effort to communicate about its many activities, the Science Department has been generating more and more interest from fellow scientists in Japan and abroad. We were recently contacted by Dr Tucker Gilman, a biologist at the University of Manchester, who kindly offered us to present his work to our students. Dr Gilman and one of his graduate students, Ms Rebecca Lewis, came to our school on Friday 18th of May and gave our Grade 11 IB Biologists a 1-hour presentation of their work through a lecture and an exciting activity.

Lewis and Gilman are investigating the evolution of birdsong in captivity, with a particular focus on the Java sparrow. The Java sparrow was domesticated in Japan and is kept by hobbyists around the world, but it is now rare in the wild. Working with colleagues Masayo Soma at the University of Hokkaido and Leah Williams at Chester Zoo in the UK, they have discovered that Java sparrow songs are diverging in captivity and birds raised in Belgium sing different songs from those raised in Japan. The team is now trying to understand how extreme this divergence is. Are these just different accents, or are the birds speaking completely different languages? The answer is important for conservation. People hope someday to release captive birds to supplement the wild population, but if captive birds can no longer communicate with wild birds, such releases may not work.

gilman lewis

This lecture was a wonderful opportunity for our students to connect with real researchers and put the content of the IB curriculum into context. In order to share what we learned from the presentation, we recorded the event on video. We hope that you will enjoy it!

Funding for this visit by provided by the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation