With mentions in scientific journals skyrocketing over the last few years, 3D printing is rapidly becoming a buzzword in many scientific fields. Ecology and evolution are getting in on the game too, with applications in the laboratory, field, and teaching. So as a primer to those not yet introduced to such methods, let’s cover the broad types of 3D printing and have a look at some examples where such technologies have provided novel approaches to ecological research questions, and how we may advance such techniques into the future.Read more
At the start of the pandemic, working from home became essential for many of us – breaking down the physical separation of work and life and instead creating one very long day at the office. For many research groups, this meant having to make key decisions on what to do with vital animals, plants, and tissue cultures. For me, it meant over a year living with hundreds of bush crickets. Now that the summer has returned and more COVID restrictions have been lifted, the insects recently returned to our lab. Here I share some thoughts on this element of the last year, and what I have learnt about time management in academia.Read more
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?Read more
When someone imagines London, they probably visualise Big Ben, Buckingham palace, and an overly patriotic use of the Union Jack. What they probably don’t picture is flocks of bright green parrots occupying every tree branch and streetlamp in view. However, urban populations of invasive parrot species are becoming more readily observed globally, and in London, there are fears the population may be growing too fast!
Earlier this year, the UK saw headlines announcing that the government has been advised to cull the iconic birds following a recent increase in numbers. But with their bright colours making them a unique addition to the fauna of the city, and their nonchalant nature towards locals and tourists, many are opposed to the cull. So what is the right thing to do when we get attached to an invasive species? And are parrots on their way to becoming the next globally distributed ‘pest’?Read more
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.Read more
A katydid, proudly displaying the front legs in which it houses its ears (Image Credit: Charlie Woodrow, CC BY 2.0)