Photograph of a katydid on a leaf

Zoology Live! Nature Classroom

Did you join us for Zoology Live last week? We had a wonderful week talking to experts about local wildlife, and finding out how we might watch the nature on our doorsteps. In this Nature Classroom we will be taking a look back at some of the things we learnt last week, from interviews with wildlife experts to insect surveys and more.

These activities support learning in the following areas:

Photograph of a red and black bug
(c) Matt Lowe

Identify and name a variety of common animals

Identifying that most living things live in habitats to which they are suited.

Different habitats provide for the basic needs of different kinds of animals and plants, and how they depend on each other.

Recognise that environments can change and that this can sometimes pose dangers to living things.

How animals and plants are adapted to suit their environment in different ways and that adaptation may lead to evolution.

Minibeasts

Insects, snails, slugs, woodlice, worms, spiders… These animals can all be referred to as minibeasts. To give them a proper scientific name, we would describe these animals as invertebrates as they do not have a backbone. We had lots of activities involving minibeasts for Zoology Live!

Photograph of a ladybird larva on a leaf

Task: Record the minibeasts in your local green space

You can download our Minibeast Diary page to keep a note of the insects and other invertebrates you can find.

Have a go at setting a pitfall trap. Here is our Curator in Insects Dr Ed Turner showing us how and some of the results from his pitfall trap:

Or you could have a go at beat-netting, using a white sheet underneath the branches of a tree or shrub to shake the insects out and study them:

And have a go at finding some snails with our Curator of Malacology Dr Richard Preece:

Minibeasts are really important in making our ecosystems work. Some are hebivores (plant eaters) feeding on leaves and other plant material and then being food themselves for animals higher up the food chain. Some are important decomposers, helping to break down waste materials and returning the nutrients to the soil. Some are predators, and keep numbers of other minibeasts down to keep a balance in a habitat. Why not find out what roles the animals you have found play in your green space.

Find out more about minibeasts from our Zoology Live experts by following the links on our Zoology Live programme.

Take photographs of your wildlife spots and you can upload them to our Zoology Live 2020 event on iRecord. Your data will then be available for scientists and conservationists to use to better understand the health of our local environments, so it is really worth doing. Find out how on our iRecord blog post.

Our Feathered Friends

On Thursday 25 June, we were joined by experts Dr Tony Fulford and Dr Andrew Bladon, who talked to us about recording bird song and encouraging birds into our green spaces.

Birds are a great place to start your wildlife watching journey. You can see them flying or perching or feeding, and you can hear them too. With a bit of patience and practice they will reward you with some wonderful wildlife spots.

Photograph of a nuthatch on a tree trunk

Task: Watch the birds coming to your green space. Can you learn some of the different species?

Want to learn what the different birds are? Try the RSPB website as a starting point. The more you bird watch, you may want to buy yourself an ID guide. If you have a garden, your house will make a great spot to watch for birds. Encourage and support the birds in your garden by putting out some food and water. Here’s a brilliant how-to guide from the Wildlife Trusts on how to make your own bird feeder:

Find out more on the Wildlife Trust website.

Be Inspired

Task: Create an animal out of materials you can find at home

Take a look at our LEGO creature challenge and make an animal out of LEGO

Or have a go at making an animal out of recycled materials:

or perhaps from some of the natural objects you can find in your green spaces:

Send in pictures of you creations either using the #ZoologyLive or by email to umzc@zoo.cam.ac.uk and we will feature them in our Online Community Gallery.

Photograph of a katydid on a leaf
(c) Matt Lowe

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