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

Oil palm (c) Valentine Reiss-Woolever

Palm oil boycotts may block the path to sustainability

Valentine Reiss-Woolever, a PhD student in the Insect Ecology Group, writes: Bamboo straws, Nordic flight shame, and reusable tote bags – environmentally minded consumption is increasingly common. A buzzword in recent years, “conscientious consumption” describes our attempts to spend money with an awareness of how our choices affect the world outside of ourselves. At the start of 2020, 64% of Germans said “living more sustainably” … Continue reading Palm oil boycotts may block the path to sustainability

Amjad with purple hairstreak butterfly on his finger

‘Chasing butterflies’ at the Museum of Zoology

Amjad Khalaf, undergraduate student, writes: One of my fondest childhood memories is chasing butterflies and ladybirds in the garden and being fascinated by their vibrant colours as they flew around. Thinking back, that was one of the main reasons I became interested in biology; I often found myself wondering  why they looked the way they did and how they lived their lives that were so … Continue reading ‘Chasing butterflies’ at the Museum of Zoology

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

Photograph taken with lense half-way into river water

Can how we manage agriculture’s impact on insects and biodiversity?

Martina Harianja, PhD student, writes: Imagine that you were eight times as big as a grain of sugar, and you live in a fast-flowing stream. To get food, you need to swim against the current. What properties would need to accomplish this?  Semi-aquatic bugs in the genus of Rhagovelia offer a brilliant approach. Their body length ranges from two to four millimetres as an adult, and … Continue reading Can how we manage agriculture’s impact on insects and biodiversity?

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

30 days wild, fenland. Credit Kate Howlett

Reflections: Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild

Kate Howlett, NERC-funded PhD student says: Back at the end of May, I set myself the challenge of taking part in the Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild initiative, so for every day in June I chose a ‘random act of wildness’ to complete. In a nutshell, I’m happy to report that all the hype and positive effects are true. I’ve spent a beautiful month, over … Continue reading Reflections: Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild

River running through oil palm

Restoring river borders for biodiversity

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. Sarah Luke Department of Zoology “I am interested in the effects of habitat change on biodiversity, and development of possible strategies for conservation. My current work is based in oil palm plantations in Indonesia where we are … Continue reading Restoring river borders for biodiversity

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

Conifers, Mead's Plantation. Credit John Howlett

How can green space affect children’s wellbeing?

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. Kate Howlett Museum of Zoology “I’m a PhD researcher in the Museum working on biodiversity within the green spaces in primary school grounds. I’m particularly interested in the diversity of insect and other invertebrate species because this is … Continue reading How can green space affect children’s wellbeing?

Kate climbing over a fallen tree

Why I’ll be taking part in the Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild this June

Kate Howlett, NERC-funded PhD student says: Have the lockdown restrictions been changing the way we interact with and value nature? It certainly feels that way at the moment: social media is filled with photos people have snapped on their daily walk, along with captions expressing gratitude for their local green patch; a new-found joy in bird watching or a rekindled appreciation for the beauty of … Continue reading Why I’ll be taking part in the Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild this June

Heart and dart moth in trap

Build your own Moth Trap

Moths are a widespread and diverse group of insects, but they can often be overlooked. A large part of this is due to many species being active at night, meaning that people have fewer opportunities to interact with them. They also rely heavily on camouflage and have a reputation for being more ‘drab’ in colour than their day-flying butterfly relatives. However, there are many exceptions … Continue reading Build your own Moth Trap