The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) published a sombre report at the beginning of May, revealed that the foundations of our ecosystem are eroding as species populations spiral ever faster downwards.
Just a week earlier research by Butterfly Conservation confirmed that moths continue to struggle due to habitat loss and climate change.
Five million moth records, submitted by thousands of Butterfly Conservation volunteers, show that moth abundance has fallen in Scotland by almost 50% in the last 25 years.
A Vegetative Key to Wetland Plants
This year Freshwater Habitats Trust is trialing a new ‘Vegetative Key to Wetland Plants’ and we’re looking for volunteers to use it, test it, and provide feedback. We developed the key to support wildlife recording.
Right now, our planet’s plant and animal species are going extinct at 100 to 1,000 times the natural rate.
This is a tragedy in its own right, but a growing number of scientists are also saying that this global crisis could be as big a threat to humanity as climate change.
Clubtail Count in Southern England
The British Dragonfly Society is running the Clubtail Count citizen science project this summer and would appreciate your assistance in promoting it to your members.
The Common Clubtail is a red listed species that breeds in lowland rivers in England and Wales. This beautiful dragonfly faces a number of threats including pollution, disturbance and habitat destruction.
To help save this species we first need to identify the location of its surviving populations, as well as which populations are most at threat, or already declining.
Adult Clubtail spend most of their lives hiding in the tree tops, making them hard to survey. The best way to identify breeding populations is too look for larvae undergoing emergence (transforming into adults) on river banks, as well as their exuviae (shed larval skins) they leave behind, and this is exactly what we want volunteers to do!
Surveys need to take place between May-July on warm, sunny days and ideally Clubtail Count volunteers will visit their survey area 3 times within this period. This year we are surveying the River Dee, Severn, Avon, Teme, Vyrnwy, Wye, Tywi, Teifi, Thames, Kennet, Otter and Arun.
Common Clubtail and their exuviae are very easy to identify so the Clubtail Count is a great activity for beginners looking to learn more about dragonflies and get up close to river wildlife along the way!
Slow Worm Identification
A zoology student from the University of Cumbria is using an ingenious technique to identify individual slow worms as part of her dissertation research into conserving this seldom seen lizard.
Suzanne Collinson,45, a third year BSc Zoology student at the University of Cumbria has a passion for the UK’s only legless lizard and is working on a conservation project in the village of Dalston, Carlisle, one of the few areas in Cumbria where the creatures are known to reside.
To help her monitor the population in St Michael’s churchyard in the village, Suzanne is using a novel method of photographing the markings on the animals’ chins. These markings are unique and assist Suzanne in identifying individuals, which are otherwise indistinguishable from each other.
We’re hearing more and more reports of frogspawn in the south west so it’s now time keep your eyes peeled for amorous amphibians… For the third year, we running the PondNet Spawn Survey. We’d like to hear from you about the frog and toad spawn you spot in your garden ponds, local community ponds, and any ponds you come across in your adventures in the countryside. https://freshwaterhabitats.org.uk/projects/pondnet/spawnsurvey2019/
Cardiff University prepares scientists to tackle
global environmental challenges
A new master’s degree from Cardiff University will train the next generation of scientists to tackle urgent global issues that are having significant impacts on wildlife and ecosystems around the world.
The world is facing unprecedented challenges; from a growing human population and increased habitat loss, to plastic pollution and a changing climate. To meet these challenges, there is a need for innovative and adaptable scientists who can develop conservation strategies with real impact.
Cardiff University’s MSc in Global Ecology and Conservation will combine scientific theory with practical research in the field, to equip students with the skills and knowledge to devise effective and scalable solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems.
From the rivers of South Wales to the Bornean rainforest, it covers the major conservation issues affecting various habitats across the globe, enabling students to learn how to identify and tackle current and emerging threats to species and ecosystems.
The course also takes full advantage of Wales’ incredible ecological diversity, providing the perfect environment for students to develop skills as field researchers.
“The world as we know it is changing at a rapid rate – and our ecosystems are under more stress than ever before,” explains Professor Jim Murray, Head of the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University.
“The School of Biosciences is home to leading scientists who are conducting cutting-edge research into a number of environmental issues – from pioneering climate change research, to developing action plans to preserve native species. The new MSc will offer an exciting opportunity for them to share this knowledge with the next generation of ecological scientists, furnishing them with the knowledge and experience they need to ‘be the change’ and make a real world difference.”
Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University, Professor Karen Holford, added: “Research tells us that climate change and the destruction of nature is considered to be the most serious global issue by 18-35 year olds across the world.
“As a responsible organisation with a strong civic mission, Cardiff University is committed to environmental sustainability, and our 2018-23 Way Forward Strategy contains ambitious targets around eliminating single use plastics, reducing carbon emissions and improving recycling rates, for example.
“Our new MSc in Global Ecology and Conservation enables us to take our commitment to environmental issues one step further. Through interdisciplinary research and teaching, this forward-looking course aims to create skilled and knowledgeable global scientists who can devise innovative solutions to some of the key challenges facing the world in the 21st century, and make a positive difference to our environment, both now and in the future.”