Bonus Becoming A Master – Things I wish I’d Known

Hindsight is always 20/20 so I wanted to share some of the things I wish I had known before I started my masters degree. If you’re new to my blog I have just completed my masters degree in Conservation from UCL and I recorded my journey with a series called becoming a master. Nevertheless here are five things I wish I had known before I started.

1 – Always start your assignments early. – You hear this piece of advice a lot at university, but when it comes to masters degree assignments they need more research than at undergraduate level which needs way more time. If you think you only need two weeks for an assignment double that for the amount of reading you need to do to go alongside!

2 – Go to careers events! – They might seem like a drag but your masters is normally only a year long and that year goes fast. Often these career events will allow you to see where you can go after your degree and what you need to do to get there.

3 – Talk to your lecturers – I was awful at doing this during my masters degree up until my dissertation, so learn from my mistakes! The best way to do well in assignments is to go and talk to the person whos marking it about what they’re really after. My masters assignments were often like the technical challenge in the great british bake off with very little information in the instructions. However, if you go and chat to your lecturers they will help! Also remember that your lecturers will often be your referees for job applications so it’s always good to make a great impression.

4 – Get Organised! – I spoke about organisation a lot during my weekly updates but honestly I think it’s the main thing that carried me through the masters process. Knowing exactly when you’re working, when deadlines are, and most importantly when you’re taking breaks is so important for keeping you as stress free as possible!

5 – Try and get some volunteer work in whilst not overloading yourself – I know it’s an enigma wrapped up in a conundrum to work out the right balance.  But! Volunteering and getting work experience is so important for after your degree and landing a great job. Volunteering will allow you to find out whether a certain type of work will be right for you and it looks great on your CV. However, it’s important to note that a masters degree has a full time job time commitment so try and get the balance right!

I hope these pieces of advice will help you on your masters degree journey. I might write another post soon about choosing the right masters degree to begin with soon so if you’d find that helpful let me know!

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What is rewilding?

You might have heard of the word rewilding in the news surrounding conservation but what actually is it?!

Rewilding is a type of conservation work that is currently defined as leaving a defined area alone for natural processes to occur. The theory behind the movement is that by leaving an area entirely alone the natural order of things will return, with the change being long term.

One example of this has been on alpine grasslands such as in the Snowdonia National Park. Once upon a time this area would have various areas of grasslands with shrubs and at lower altitudes there would have been broad leaf forest. However, due to extreme overgrazing of these areas it is now reduced to only a few species of grasses. Rewilding movements in the area, have fenced off areas of land from sheep to allow for regrowth of shrubs. They are also working with farmers to encourage sheep to stay away from certain areas. So far these projects have moved slowly but are working to encourage biodiversity.

Another project from Rewilding Britain worked on The River Wandle in South London –

In 1805, the river Wandle, which flows through south London, was described as “the hardest worked river for its size in the world.” It was an urban sewer, poisoned by bleach and dyes from the 90 mills along its length. It was later straightened and canalised to speed water away from homes and businesses.

But in this urban rewilding project, the Wandle Trust is restoring the river to its former glory as a beautiful chalk stream. Almost all the world’s chalk streams are found in England. They are rare and threatened habitats.

The Trust has been putting back features that harboured life in the river, which had been pulled out by overzealous engineers. It runs community cleanups every month, enlisting local people to remove the junk dumped in the water. It has been creating passages through the weirs to enable eels to migrate upstream. Children in local schools have been raising trout to restock the river.

The children’s involvement has encouraged them to see the Wandle as part of their landscape and to start playing in it once more. The project is rewilding children as well as the natural world. And it provides a valuable wildlife corridor right into the heart of the city.

There have even been bigger projects suggested like reintroducing species to these rewilding areas, this has included larger mammals and even wolves. Rewilding is viewed by some as a necessity for the future of conservation and encouraging biodiversity as it is low cost and works very well. However, others see rewilding as a waste of potential land use and that it alienates land owners.

Conservation can often be a divisive issue and rewilding is no different. Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments!

Here are a few more links to other articles on rewilding if you are interested:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/01/rewilding-conservation-ecology-national-trust

http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/rewilding

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Top 10 Bees!

Bees! They are incredible and are a hugely important part of the ecosystem, there are over 200 UK native species but here are my ten favourites!

1) Early Bumblebee -(Bombus pratorum)

This bumblebee has queen bees that emerge earlier than most others, often between March and May. It is a small bee and an important pollinator of soft fruit such as raspberries and blackberries. They nest underground with small colonies of around 100 workers.

Early bumblebee - Photo by Peter Creed

2) Honey Bee – (Apis mellifera)

These are the bees we have to thank for all the delicious honey that we eat. They have been semi-domesticated for thousands of years for that reason. The hive is split into a queen who lays eggs, the workers who look after the young and the drones who are reproductive males

Honey bee - northeastwildlife.co.uk - northeastwildlife.co.uk

3) Small Garden Bumblebee – (Bombus hortorum)

Garden bumblebees are large bees which have long tongues that allow them to visit larger flowers such as foxglove and honeysuckle. They nest in small colonies of 100 individuals.

Small garden bumblebee  - Photo by Orangeaurochs

4) Red-tailed bumblebee – (Bombus lapidarius)

As the name would suggest this bee species has a red tail! Although this tail can sometimes look more orange. They have a preference for thistles, bird’s-foot trefoil and budleia flowers.

Red-tailed bumblebee - Rachel scopes - Rachel scopes

5) White-tailed bumblebee – (Bombus lucorum)

As the name would suggest this social bee species has a white tail! This species is widespread throughout the UK and feeds from early spring to early autumn.

White-tailed bumblebee on bramble - Zsuzsanna Bird - Zsuzsanna Bird

6) Common carder bee – (Bombus pascuorum)

One of the most common social bees in the UK. This species can have a nest of around 200 individuals. They can even be seen feeding up until November!

Common carder bee on aster - Rachel scopes - Rachel scopes

7) Leaf-cutter Bee – (Megachile centuncularis)

This bee is an example of some of the many solitary bees. They famously cut discs out of leaves (they particularly like roses), gluing them together with saliva in order to build the ‘cells’ in which their larvae live.

leaf-cutter bee - Cécile Bassaglia - Cécile Bassaglia

8) Ivy Bee – (Colletes hederae)

These solitary bees nest in loose soil or sand and as the name suggests they feed on mostly ivy.

Ivy bee - Photo by Peter Creed

9) Red Mason Bee – (Osmia rufa)

These are a very common solitary bee and will often build nests in small cracks in walls so are common in urban environments. They do very well in the solitary bee hotels that you can buy for your garden. Their food plants include sallows, fruit trees and oil-seed rape.

Red mason bee - bramblejungle - bramblejungle

10) Ashy mining bee – (Andrena cineraria)

The ashy mining bee is a distinctive little species with monochrome colouring. They can be seen flying between April and July and are another species of solitary bee.

Image result

I hope you can see that bees are a hugely diverse group! They come in all kinds of colours and are extremely important for pollination.

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Post Masters: 1 Month Update

Hello!

It’s already been 1 month since I finished my masters degree in Conservation from University College London! This past month has flown by but I am very pleased to tell you it’s because I jumped straight from my masters degree in to a brand new job!

My current position I am very proud to announce is an Editorial Assistant for Nature! I’m working on three new journals produced by Nature which are Communications Biology, Chemistry and Physics. It’s been really interesting learning a lot about academic publishing and how it all works but as I’m still only a few weeks into the job I have a lot more to learn! As for my masters degree, I’m still waiting for my final results to come in but when they do I can finally call my self a master of science!

And finally blog wise, there has been plenty to see with my work on The Woodland Trust blog which you can see HERE! And there is a brand new section on my blog with all the new photos I’ve been taking, I love putting my biological themed photos on my instagram but I often take a lot so I’ve created a gallery for you to go and have a look at my work.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this little update!

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Photography by ThatBiologist – ZSL Whipsnade Zoo – 30/09/2017

It was my first trip to Whipsnade Zoo which is run by ZSL, I thought it was the perfect time to take some more photos. All pictures were taking using my Iphone.

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The Monthly Species – September

For this month’s ever so slightly late species I’m going to indulge myself by presenting to my favourite rodent! It’s the largest rodent species in the world and just so happens to be the cutest! It is of course the Capybara!

Group of Capybara on a river bank in Pantanal Brazil

Scientific Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Caviidae
Genus: Hydrochoerus
Species: H. hydrochaeris

Size: Capybaras are big rodents! They can grow up to 134cm in length and stand up to 62cm. Their average weight is 48.9 kg.

Diet: They are an omnivorous species that will feed predominantly on grasses, fruits and tree bark. They are selective feeders which means that they will feed on the leaves of one species disregarding other species surrounding it. Their teeth never stop growing to account for all the eating that they do!

Life Expectancy: Individuals kept in captivity have a life expectancy of 8-10 years. However, most individuals that live in the wild will only live for four years as they are the favourite food source of many top predators including jaguars and pumas.


Reproduction: 
Capybaras can live alone but will often live in a group of 10-20 individuals. Their gestational period is between 130 and 150 days and they have a litter of around 4 babies!

Conservation: 

San Diego Zoo put it perfectly by saying “The capybara is not currently classified as an endangered species, although it is threatened by deforestation, habitat destruction, and illegal poaching. It was in trouble not too long ago, though, due to hunting. Local people have used this animal as a food source for centuries and have been seen wearing capybara teeth as ornaments.

Now, capybaras are being farmed for their meat as part of a mammal management plan in Venezuela and Colombia. This helps to protect the capybaras left in the wild and their wild habitat, which, in turn, helps all of the plants and animals that call that habitat home.”

The Coolest Thing Ever About This Species:

They are fantastic swimmers! They have webbed feet, making them great swimmers, and their eyes, ears and nostrils are located at the top of their heads, enabling them to keep most of their bodies below water like hippos. Capybaras can also press their ears against their heads to keep water out, and they can completely submerge themselves for up to five minutes, allowing them to hide from predators.

A bird perches on a capybara's head.

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ThatBiologist Is Back

Honey, I’m home!!!

I’ve not posted here in such a long time but I have been writing and getting prepared for blogs right up until the end of this year.

I’ve had a little break to get myself into a new routine with my new job (!!!) but there will be more on that on Monday!

However, I have a little bit of house keeping to do on the blog. Just to let you all know I will be continuing to post blogs here on a Wednesday and a Sunday, but if that’s not enough for you I post regularly on my twitter, facebook and instagram that are all linked at the bottom of every blog post!

See you on Wednesday for an ever so slightly late Monthly Species blog!

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BAM – The Finale!

So I did it! This is the last masters degree update (at least for a little while). All my work has been submitted and its on to the next great adventure. My very last piece of work happened on Monday when I presented my work in a poster form! It was a great day to spend with my course friends after having not seen many of them since we started our dissertation but I was sad to see them go! It won’t be long til we’re back together again I’m sure!

However, that day did mark my very last thing for my masters degree! The rest of this week I have been moving house and getting ready for my next adventure!

So what next? Well I can’t tell you just yet what I’m up to but just know that its super exciting! However, I am going to be leaving ThatBiologist just for a few weeks to get everything sorted. In my last few weeks of writing my dissertation all of my life stuff went out the window and when I had a chance to look around I realised that I needed a bit of a break to sort those things out! So I will be back at the start of October with a new schedule and lots of brand new content!

Thank you all for your love and support! I will see you all very soon!

Becoming A Master – The Hand In!

Week 36!

Hello! So here we are in the penultimate episode of this series! This week was all about finishing and handing in my dissertation! In the end I completely finished my piece of work on Tuesday, had it bound Wednesday and then I handed it over on Thursday!

In case you were wondering my final title of my dissertation was “Hedgerow management schemes and their effect on plant biodiversity, UK” but that’s all I can share with you until it’s marked! My final document was just over 15 thousand words but in terms of words that counted towards my word count it was 10,890 words and was 60 pages long. It is such an exciting yet daunting feeling handing over a solo piece of work that I have been working on for three months to be marked.

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In between all of the work, over the past few weeks I have also been going to interviews and applying for jobs so I can move on to another exciting chapter! Of which I will be able to speak more about very soon.

There’s just one more thing I have to do and then I will have finished all of my work for my master’s degree, but I will save telling you all about that for the finale!

See you then!

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