Virpi Lummaa Scientific Medal 2016 Zoological Society of London

Virpi Lummaa is an outstanding evolutionary biologist and her work has led to significant advances in our understanding of the ecological causes and evolutionary consequences of variation in reproductive success and longevity. Her research on humans, based on detailed pedigrees, and birth and death records, revealed the selection pressures shaping life history in pre-industrial populations, and in so doing allowed for the first rigorous, scientific examination of human behavioural ecology. These findings have revealed the complex trade-offs shaping recent human evolution.

Virpi’s research also focuses on the evolutionary ecology of Asian elephants, using a unique multi-generational demographic dataset collected from a large population of elephants working in the Myanmar timber industry. This innovative project has already greatly expanded our understanding of the factors affecting health, fertility and mortality rates of these elephants. Virpi has assisted in devising strategies to improve the management and healthcare of the elephants in order to achieve a self-sustaining working population that does not require supplementation from the wild. Virpi is a dedicated mentor and has a well-deserved international reputation as a champion of young researchers. It is a pleasure to present her with the Scientific Medal.

The Scientific Medal, Britain's zoological Oscar, is awarded to scientists with up to 15 years postdoctoral experience for distinguished work in zoology.

Other News

Both Elephant and Human Projects present, Lummaa Group had a great time discussing both current accomplishments and future prospects in Seili.

We are delighted to once again host PhD candidate Silke van Daalen, who will stay with us for most of September.

Laisk T, Tšuiko O, Jatsenko T, Hõrak P, Otala M, Lahdenperä M, Lummaa V, Tuuri T, Salumets A, Tapanainen JS:

Simon's latest work on the demography of grandmothers is now out in PLoS ONE. 

We were delighted to host Professors Martin Daly and Gretchen Perry for a day of excellent talks, with a particular focus on grandmothering and alloparental behaviour.

Robert Lynch is at the Human Behavior and Evolution Society (HBES) conference 2018 in Amsterdam

The manuscript "The transition to modernity and chronic disease: mismatch and natural selection" by Stephen Corbett, Alexandre Courtiol, Virpi Lummaa, Jacob Moorad and Stephen Stea

Two papers out now from Simon's PhD project!

1) Changes in the Length of Grandparenthood in Finland 1790-1959, published in the Finnish Yearbook of Population Reasarch. In this paper, the team investigated how the shared time between grandparents and grandchildren changed across the demographic transition and with industrialisation. This shared time was low and stable before these major events, and began to increase rapidly after they began.

2) Limited support for the X-linked grandmother hypothesis in pre-industrial Finland, published in Biology Letters. Here, we tested whether slight differences in relatedness via the X-chromosome might lead to differences the survival of male and female grandchildren with maternal or paternal grandmothers. Though two of three predictions were supported, we concluded that the X-linked grandmother hypothesis cannot account for lineage differences by itself. 

Our latest paper shows that early-life environment is associated with sex differences in adult mortality and expected lifespan. Out now in Ecology Letters:

Figure 3a+b, from Griffin et al. 2017

Our review of the contribution of human studies to evolutionary biology is out now in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: