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Locust study aims to reveal insights into hearing loss
The locust ear could be used as an animal model to gain insights into age-related and noise-induced hearing loss.

Researcher awarded Royal Society University Research Fellowship

An unlikely insect has been employed to help researchers understand why hearing loss occurs in animals.

The insect, a desert locust, will be used by University of Leicester researcher Dr Ben Warren to understand how sound gets converted into electrical signals, which animals then hear.

Dr Warren explained that the desert locust has ears either side of its abdomen. This means that its auditory nerve cells can be easily accessed and the electrical signals can be recorded in response to sound.

“This will be exploited to identify the protein that converts sound into electrical signals; this sound-transducing protein is considered the ‘holy grail’ by many in the auditory neuroscience field,” he said.

Dr Warren also hopes to develop funding opportunities to use the locust ear to gain insights into age-related and noise-induced hearing loss, from which both humans and locusts suffer.

The research has been made possible thanks to a prestigious Royal Society University Research Fellowship, awarded to Dr Warren after submitting a written research proposal and convincing a panel of experts.

“Suited-and-booted in my brother’s one-size-too-large-suit, I sat in front of 16 interviewers and attempted to sell them the dream of using the desert locust to understand how we hear,” he said.

Image (C) University of Leicester

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Report: A third of Welsh birds are in decline

News Story 1
 A report by RSPB Cymru and partnering ornithology organisations has revealed that a third of bird species in Wales are in significant decline.

90 per cent of Wales is farmed and there is now pressure to implement new land management policies that will aid in nature restoration.

Patrick Lindley, Maritime Ornithologist for Natural Resources Wales, commented: “The problems that confront UK birds, whether they are breeding or non-breeding, are pressure and threats that confront entire ecosystems.

“Birds are a great indicator to the health of our environment. The continued population declines of birds of farmed, woodland and upland habitats suggest there are large geographic themes that are having a detrimental impact.”  

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BSAVA announces winner of 2019 Bourgelat Award

One of the world’s leading small animal medicine specialists is set to receive the prestigious Bourgelat Award at BSAVA Congress 2019.

Professor Mike Herrtage will be recognised for his major research into metabolic and endocrine diseases, including diabetes mellitus, Cushing’s disease and Addison’s disease.

During his career, Prof Herrtage has co-authored more than 100 scientific papers and written more than 200 other publications such as abstracts, books and chapters. He also continues to be a source of inspiration for thousands of undergraduate and postgraduate veterinary surgeons.