A natural peatland in the North Yorkshire Dales, UK. Much of the UK’s peat is imported from Europe and Ireland. (Image Credit: Charlie Woodrow, CC by 2.0)
The COVID pandemic has disrupted all aspects of our lives, and forced many to pick up new hobbies to stay happy and occupied. Among these new hobbies is gardening, with stores across the UK seeing increasing demand for potted plants and horticultural products. But while gardening may seem like an eco-friendly past time, many of the products sold for home-use have multiple direct and indirect negative environmental effects, and among the worst of these is peat-rich composts. But what is peat? And why should you avoid gardening products that contain it?
Look to the wilderness of Northern Europe and you will find brown bears, grey wolves, wild cats, and some of the best remaining strongholds for large mammals on the continent. Look to the UK on the other hand, and you see a state of overgrazed grasslands, skeletonized hedgerows, and monocultured forests. In the face of the global extinction and climate crisis, even the most praised of Britain’s mammals are facing decline, as the IUCN red list declares one in four species at risk of extinction, and the persecution of wild populations continues.
In this article, I offer a brief summary of some of the UK mammal species that have experienced their share of ups and downs throughout 2020, and hopes for UK mammal conservation for the future.
A katydid, proudly displaying the front legs in which it houses its ears (Image Credit: Charlie Woodrow, CC BY 2.0)
Insects are famously one of the most diverse groups of organisms, with over one million species discovered, adapted to nearly every niche on the planet. This diversity has allowed for the evolution of an incredible mix of shapes and sizes, behaviours, and other features. Perhaps the most frequently re-occurring of these traits are their ears, with current estimates stating they have evolved up to 20 times independently, on almost every imaginable part of the body. So just what makes it so easy for insects to evolve ears? And why should we study them?
Image Credit: Larissa Uhryn, CC BY-SA 4.0, Image Cropped
I just want to start this article off by saying that I had TWO amazing pieces scheduled for today, and I’ve put them both off for next week (my apologies to Yi-Kai Tea and Charlie Woodrow). I’ve done so because the start of this week saw a paper come to Ecology Twitter’s attention that is just plain wild (excuse the pun).