Common blue butterfly sat on a yellow flower at brownfield site

Brownfield Biodiversity

Brownfield sites? These are sites some might call ‘wasteland’, ‘post-industrial land’ or ‘derelict land’. These could be disused railway sidings, former quarries, abandoned industrial estates, amongst other things. Historically incredibly human-modified – one might wonder why, as a conservation scientist, I would be interested in brownfield sites. Brownfield sites do actually harbour biodiversity. In fact, these sites might support many nationally rare and scarce insects … Continue reading Brownfield Biodiversity

Nephila sp. Golden orb weaver and oil palm

New study assesses the impacts of oil palm replanting on arthropod biodiversity

Michael Pashkevich writes: Palm oil seems to be everywhere:  it’s probably in your shampoo, the instant noodles you ate for lunch and – if you’re wearing it – your lipstick. In fact, palm oil is the most traded vegetable oil worldwide, in part because it can be used in so many products. But the production of palm oil is highly controversial. This is because oil … Continue reading New study assesses the impacts of oil palm replanting on arthropod biodiversity

Looking over Stave Hill (c) Ella Henry

The lesser known ecological parks of London

Ella Henry, undergraduate student, writes: A concrete jungle. The constant chorus of cars and buses. Streams of artificial light from headlights, street lamps and buildings. Flocks of people everywhere. London, along with many other cities, is probably not the first place you would associate with the word ‘biodiversity’. Nevertheless, returning to London during the lockdown period has led me to appreciate its nature-engagement spaces, which … Continue reading The lesser known ecological parks of London

Copyright All rights reserved by Steve Balcombe

Studying evolution through the specialisations of burying beetles

Swastika Issar, PhD student, writes: “I’ve always been fascinated by how new species can emerge from the way populations adapt to their local environments. For my PhD, I worked on the burying beetles. These incredible insects turn the carcass of a small vertebrate, such as a bird or a mammal, into an edible nest for their larvae. I was interested in studying how local adaptations … Continue reading Studying evolution through the specialisations of burying beetles

wildflowers in the city (c) Stanley Quek

Singapore’s Nature Ways

Stanley Quek, an MPhil student focusing on assessing the effectiveness of the Nature Ways network in Singapore, writes: Singapore is an island country in the biodiverse region of Southeast Asia. Singapore is also a large city, with urban landscapes dominating the island. In the past, Singapore was completely covered with dense primary forests and mangroves, however, much of that has been lost with the development … Continue reading Singapore’s Nature Ways

How to observe wildlife: iRecord

Matt Hayes, research assistant, takes us through how to record the wildlife we see using iRecord: What is iRecord?iRecord is a website for sharing wildlife observations. What does iRecord do?Its goal is to make it easier for wildlife sightings to be collected, checked by experts and made available to support research and decision-making. How do I add my wildlife sightings?You can register for free and … Continue reading How to observe wildlife: iRecord

Shieldbug found on beat-net

How to observe wildlife: beat-netting

Matt Hayes, research assistant writes: There are many ways to look for minibeasts that live around you and one easy method is to use a beat net. You don’t need any fancy equipment; a white sheet or tray will work just as well as a store-bought net. An upside-down pale umbrella also makes the perfect substitute. A pale white colour works best as it helps … Continue reading How to observe wildlife: beat-netting

By Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE - Fungus-growing Termites (Macrotermes carbonarius), CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40231177

Termite mound-mates create even more questions for scientists

To celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month the Museum is sharing the stories of 27 inspirational women, alongside the animals they work with the most. Dr Amelia Hood Department of Zoology “I’m an ecologist who loves social insects. For my PhD, I worked in oil palm plantations in Indonesia and studied ants and termites. There is one termite species, Macrotermes gilvus, that is … Continue reading Termite mound-mates create even more questions for scientists

Weevil on hand. Credit S Steele

30 Days Wild Challenge

Kate Howlett, PhD student: Kate Howlett, PhD student at the University Museum of Zoology, talks about why she’ll be taking part in the Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild challenge. She’ll be doing one ‘random act of wildness’ each day this June and seeing what effects this has on her happiness and health. Click the button below to read her piece about why she’s never taken … Continue reading 30 Days Wild Challenge

Dragonfly (BEFTA). Credit Ed Turner

A diversity of dragonflies in oil palm plantations

Sarah Luke Museum of Zoology, Insect Ecology Group New research from the Museum of Zoology and collaborators finds a diverse and variable dragonfly community in oil palm plantations in Sumatra, Indonesia. Across the globe, large areas of naturally forested habitats have been converted to agriculture to feed a growing world population. This conversion usually results in dramatic changes in the habitat, including losses of habitat … Continue reading A diversity of dragonflies in oil palm plantations

Climate Change: the board game

You are an animal species, living in the savannah. The world is divided in four habitats based on the average temperature and precipitation (rain and snowfall) in each area. There are hotter and colder regions around you, but you find the average temperature of the savannah very comfortable. The savannah is occupied by a number of different species (the other players), all adapted to this … Continue reading Climate Change: the board game