View of a rainforest in Costa Rica from above

We know conservation is working, but do we really know what works?

Alec Christie, PhD student in the Conservation Evidence group of the Department of Zoology writes: Go to your doctor and they’ll give you the best treatment based on the scientific evidence. So why can’t we do the same for biodiversity? Recently we’ve seen a flurry of important work highlighting the continuing decline of biodiversity, including David Attenborough’s documentary Extinction: the facts. It’s also very encouraging … Continue reading We know conservation is working, but do we really know what works?

White admiral on leaf

Provide shady spots to protect butterflies from climate change

Researchers have discovered significant variations in the ability of different UK butterfly species to maintain a suitable body temperature. Species that rely most on finding a suitably shady location to keep cool are at the greatest risk of population decline. The results predict how climate change might impact butterfly communities, and will inform conservation strategies to protect them. The results, published in the Journal of … Continue reading Provide shady spots to protect butterflies from climate change

yellow petaled flower with black yellow bee during daytime

Busy Bee Communication

Ever wondered how bees communicate with each other to work as a team? Learn about the important job these pollinating insects carry out. Play our ‘Talk like a Bee’ game and discover how bees can ‘smell’ each other when visiting flowers, and find out how we can give these insects a helping hand by building your very own bee-friendly winter refuge. Insect communication Insects can … Continue reading Busy Bee Communication

Two images showing the same butterfly species in wet season and dry season

Why do butterflies change their wing pattern with the seasons?

Sridhar Halali, graduate student researcher, writes: “While wandering amid the forests of India, I had always been struck by a few butterfly species, which seemed to exhibit different wing patterns in the wet and dry seasons. This is called ‘seasonal polyphenism’, and I found out subsequently that this phenomenon is one of the adaptations to the seasons experienced in the tropics. The wet season form … Continue reading Why do butterflies change their wing pattern with the seasons?

Conserving Pangolins

Charles Emogor writes: I saw my first live pangolin after almost two decades of being a pangolin enthusiast. This was a special moment especially as the purpose of the field trip in Nigeria’s Cross River National Park was to find and tag white-bellied pangolins to better understand their ranging behaviour and activity patterns. This work is part of my PhD on pangolin ecology and conservation … Continue reading Conserving Pangolins

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

Parasitic finches mimic their hosts to deceive foster parents

Gabriel Jamie writes: Research recently published in the journal Evolution shows that the nestlings of brood-parasitic finches mimic the appearance, sound and movements of their host’s chicks. Working in the savannas of Zambia, Dr Gabriel Jamie and a team of international collaborators collected images, sounds and videos over four years to demonstrate this striking and highly specialised form of mimicry. The study, funded by The … Continue reading Parasitic finches mimic their hosts to deceive foster parents

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

Fossil fish specimen

390 million year old fish

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 Roz Wade Museum of Zoology “I wasn’t one of those children obsessed with dinosaurs. It was later, at university, that I discovered a love of fossils. I went on to study the Middle Devonian osteolepidid fishes of … Continue reading 390 million year old fish

Bird perching under woven nest

How a weaverbird outsmarts a cuckcoo

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 Jenny York Department of Zoology “Right now, I am studying the conspicuous nests built by male African weaverbirds. These work marvellously to woo females, who carefully inspect the nests before choosing their favourite and mating with the … Continue reading How a weaverbird outsmarts a cuckcoo

Zebra in

Can you tell a zebra by its stripes?

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 Rebecca Smith Department of Zoology “Cape mountain zebras declined to fewer than 80 animals in the 1950s. Following conservation initiatives, by 2000 there were around 1,600 animals, but the subspecies was still listed as Endangered. To help … Continue reading Can you tell a zebra by its stripes?

polecat Copyright All rights reserved by StanHornagold

Bringing polecats back to Britain

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 Katie Sainsbury Department of Zoology “For my PhD, I researched ecological and social aspects of the changing status of polecats in Great Britain. Since almost being eradicated from Britain in the nineteenth century, polecats have been recolonising … Continue reading Bringing polecats back to Britain

Jen Smart looking at landscape through a long lense

Reversing the decline of priority species

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 Jennifer Smart RSPB “Species conservation is at the heart of everything I do, and my favourite group of birds are waders like the black-tailed godwit. I work for the RSPB where as a scientist, I was trying … Continue reading Reversing the decline of priority species

Turtle dove (c) httpswww.flickr.comphotosandymorffew

Conserving migratory species through mapping

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 Susana Requena-Moreno RSPB, International Science Team “The European turtle dove is threatened with extinction. I analyse the information  from satellite tracking and remote sensing to help identify the drivers of population decline throughout the doves’ migratory cycle. … Continue reading Conserving migratory species through mapping