Heliconius butterfly

Exploring Chemical Signals in Butterflies

Kathy Darragh, PhD student in the Department of Zoology, writes: Due to the visual nature of humans, when we think of communication in nature, we tend to focus on things we can see. In many groups, however, other types of signals, such as chemicals, are the main form of communication. These chemical signals are harder to detect, and therefore to study, meaning they have received … Continue reading Exploring Chemical Signals in Butterflies

A cleared and stained backbone from a hatchling skate. Red staining indicates mineralised cartilage and blue staining indicates unmineralised cartilage.

Segmentation of the backbone

Kate Criswell, Postdoctoral Research Associate, writes: One of the key features that distinguishes vertebrate animals from our invertebrate cousins (such as insects and molluscs) is a backbone, or a series of vertebrae that run the length of the body. These vertebrae can range in number from only nine in frogs to over 300 in elongate animals like snakes and eels! They are important for providing … Continue reading Segmentation of the backbone

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

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?

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

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

dipper (c) Iman Shah

Understanding dippers, understanding impact

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. Prof Juliet Vickery Head of International Research, Conservation Science RSPB “I firmly believe that effective conservation action should be under-pinned by science. My research has always focussed on understanding the impact of human-related environmental change on the natural … Continue reading Understanding dippers, understanding impact

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

Ghedoghedo / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Some of the first animals that ever existed

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. Emily Mitchell Department of Zoology “My research focuses on some of the first animals that ever existed. These first animals are found during the Ediacaran time period, around 580 million years ago. I was totally unaware about … Continue reading Some of the first animals that ever existed