Case studies

Interested in our work?

Find out about the research we're engaged in by reading a few of our case studies.

Telling the story of human evolution

Most people are curious about human evolution. The story of where we came from is an interesting one. The scientific evidence for human history is complex, but LJMU researchers are at the forefront of the effort to communicate this science.

We engage and educate worldwide audiences by contributing high-quality scientific input to support the commissioning and production of television programming.

The Research Centre in Evolutionary Anthropology and Palaeoecology works with broadcasters and the creative sector, contributing its research and approach to the study of human evolution. Our work underpins programmes that attract a large and diverse viewing public.

Our research is influential because our focus is unique, we go beyond the study of fossil bones and relationships between different species. We focus on the biology of the organisms themselves: what they looked like, what they were capable of, what their environments were like. This research provides a strong scientific basis for how human ancestors are reconstructed visually, as living and moving organisms. The television programmes based on this research have more impact on how the audiences ‘see’ human evolution.

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The impacts of human introductions on patterns of genetic diversity

In a recent study (Rodriguez et al., 2013. Mol. Ecol. 22, 4829–4841) both maternally-inherited and co-dominant genetic markers were analysed to reveal how current genetic patterns in an endangered species of island lizard were due to a combination of natural Pleistocene sea-level changes and recent translocations by humans.

Community development and capacity building as key aspects of conservation strategy

Research undertaken by the Centre has demonstrated how ecological and behavioural research has influenced conservation strategy and practice in Sichuan Province, China. It has provided the groundwork for conservation activity defining the ecological requirements of two globally threatened bird species: the Sichuan Partridge and Omei Shan. The research established the population size and distribution, habitat preferences and breeding ecology of these species, noting the negative impact of human disturbance, particularly during the breeding season, on population density and breeding success. Human interventions such as seasonal bamboo shoot and firewood collection in forests, hunting, and the harvest of medicinal plants were all adversely affecting these threatened species, however this knowledge led to the promotion and adoption of beneficial alternatives to these behaviours.

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Identifying human remains from mass graves

We have participated in mass grave exhumation projects in Greece, Iraq, Sierra Leone, Grenada, and since 1999, Cyprus. These projects require the use of forensic archaeological and anthropological methods and are a prime example of forensic work in practice. The aim of these investigations is the location, recovery and identification of human remains from recent conflicts. In some cases the nature of these projects has been humanitarian, where the identified remains were returned to their families, while others were part of formal investigations and their findings have been used in various courts and tribunals.