The Monthly Species – August

So it is time for another species to get into the spotlight! This particular species we’re discussing today has the longest migration of its kind. It is also rather beautiful in my opinion! Today the species in the spotlight is the Globe Skimmer Dragonfly!

Pantala Flavescens - Wandering Glider

Scientific Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Odonata
Infraorder: Anisoptera
Family: Libellulidae
Genus: Pantala
Species: P. flavescens

 

Size: This dragonfly is about 4.5cm in length and has a wingspan of 7.2cm and 8.4cm.

Diet: As with all dragonflies the globe skimmer is predatory and has a diet of all aquatic invertebrates and their larvae.

Life Expectancy: Their life expectancy isn’t actually known because of their vast migration (more on that later).


Reproduction: 
There isn’t much courtship with this species. But when mating does occur each clutch can contain between 500 to 2000 eggs. The eggs are laid in waters and the larval stage lasts between 38 to 65 days.

Conservation: It is currently listed in the IUCN red list as the least concern. However, the globe skimmer is a key species that supports the population of many migratory birds!

The Coolest Thing Ever About This Species: This dragonfly has the longest migration of any insect, it travels with the monsoon season from India to Southern and the East of Africa. That comes to around 14,000 kilometers! It is also known to be the highest flying insect having been seen at 6,200m above sea level in the Himalayas.

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Top 10 UK Trees

Hello! I’m back with another top 10 list, so far I’ve done top 10 Hedgerow plants and top 10 UK birds! For this list all of the trees are UK native species!

  1. Alder (Alnus glutinosa) – Alder is actually a pioneer species as it increases the fertility of the soil. Alder has a symbiotic relationship with with a nitrogen-fixing bacterium called Frankia alni. Fond in the root nodules, the bacterium absorbs nitrogen from the air and makes it available to the tree. Alder, in turn, provides the bacterium with sugars, which it produces through photosynthesis.Image result for Alnus glutinosa
  2. Crab Apple (Malus sylvestris) – I have my own crab apple tree that was given to my parents when I was born which is very special to me! These trees are unique in that they will often grow alone without any other crab apple trees close by! Image result for crab apple tree
  3. Elder (Sambucus nigra) – This tree is fantastic for wildlife. The flowers provide nectar for a variety of insects and the berries are eaten by birds and mammals. Small mammals such as dormice and bank voles eat both the berries and the flowers and many moth caterpillars feed on the foliage.Image result for elder tree
  4. Oak (Quercus robur) – One of my absolute favourite trees so much so I could write this whole post about just Oak! The trees are fantastic for biodiversity when solitary but also as part of forests. They provide fantastic hard wood which is used for all sorts of things and parts of the tree were even used in traditional medicine! Image result for oak tree
  5. White Willow (Salix alba) – All willow trees were seen as trees of celebration in biblical times but over time they are now often used as symbols of mourning. You see this a lot in poetry and literature, for example in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ophelia dies by drowning near a willow tree. Image result for white willow
  6. Yew (Taxus baccata) – I have written about Yew before which goes into more of it’s poisonous nature. Another fact about Yew trees is that given their dense nature they provide fantastic nesting opportunities for many of our smaller uk bird species, particularly the goldcrest and firecrest.Image result for yew tree
  7. Bay Willow (Salix pentandra) – This willow tree has leaves that look like Bay trees hense the name! All willow trees have a history with medicine as Salicilin is found in the bark of the tree. Asprin is derived from this compound but in olden times you could chew on the bark of willow trees to relieve pain!Image result for bay willow
  8. Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris) – Scot’s pine is the national tree for Scotland and is vital to the unique Caledonian Forest that is a habitat for other rare species such as the red squirrel.Image result for scots pine caledonian forest
  9. Wild Cherry (Prunus avium) – Cherry trees are completely stunning and this species is native to the UK! There blossom is fantastic for nature as it’s early source of pollen and nectar. These trees are often used as ornamental plants but the wood is also very pretty and used to make ornamental pieces.Image result for wild cherry tree prunus avium
  10. Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) – This species of tree was planted as protection against witches because this tree has red berries and the colour red was considered the best colour for fighting evil. This species grows well in high altitudes and the wood is strong and hard which makes it great for making furniture.

Image result for rowan tree

I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick romp through some UK trees! The woodland trust has lots of fantastic information on different tree species and where to find them if you are looking for more!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Becoming A Master – Conferencing!

Week 34

Hello! So this week I am back after a wonderful holiday to Wales! It was fantastic to get away from my laptop screen and get outside but this week I am back to it! I’m in my final month of writing my dissertation and as you might imagine its a lot of perfecting what I’m doing to produce the best possible piece of work. However, I am also looking at where I’m going next and job applications are always on my to do list! This week I got the opportunity to present what I’ve been up to!

I am taking a break from blogging again next week to get all my work finished before my final deadline! So see you all very soon!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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What makes something native?

In conservation and biology in general there is a lot of talk over whether a species is native. This can often be quite a divisive issue because when species are not native they can often be removed or not be a part of policy making. This then means that when conservation plans are put into place a decision must be made as to whether a species is native or not.

So how do you decide whether something is in fact native?

A seemingly easy way of doing this is whether a species has been living in a location for a long time. However due to the wonderful nature of the world trying to pick a starting point in time and figure out what was living there can be a tricky task. For example certain plant species have always been in the UK such as Oak trees. They are therefore classed as native. Other plant species have been brought into the UK. This can happen for lots of different reasons whether its because the plant has a medical property that humans can use or it could be that they are just pretty. Many of these species have a specific few years when they were brought in. One example of this is Rhododendron ponticum which was brought in as an ornamental plant from Spain in 1763. Its since become an invasive species and out competes a lot of native species and such its regarded as a non-native species. However some research suggests that this species was growing in the UK before the last ice age. Obviously this was a long time ago but this does then pose the question of is it a native species as it once was many years a go.

It is a complicated question that I couldn’t answer in a simple blog post. However, most native species are defined as species that originated in their location naturally and without the involvement of human activity or intervention. This definition works for the majority of cases but should be called into question every once in a while!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Becoming A Master – A few of my favourite things

Week 33

Hello! So this week I have been writing. I know that’s a huge surprise to you all! However as next week I am off for a holiday, I have had a lot to get done before I can have some time off. Unfortunately that leads to a slightly boring weekly update for you. So instead I thought I would show you a few of the things that make a week of being sat at my laptop a little more bearable.

Number 1 – Breaks! – I know it might seem obvious but its so important to take breaks! I try and do 40-50 minutes work then I have 10-20 minutes off. I try and take those breaks away from my laptop (rather than just flicking over to facebook) and on my feet as I spend the majority of my time at my desk sat down! Surprisingly this has meant my flat is really clean and tidy because that is my preferred break time activity!

Number 2 – All my plants – I have a fair few plants that sit on my desk along with some fresh flowers. I think it’s important that the spot you work in is one that you like to look at! So for me that means fairy lights, pictures of my loved ones and lots of plants!

Number 3 – Reaching goals – Okay, this might sound a little bit lame but I write a to do list every day and it’ll often have word count goals. When I get there like for example on Monday I wrote over a thousand words, it feels great!

Number 4 – Tea – Specifically vats of tea in mugs that look great – I feel like this one is self explanatory!

Number 5 – Seeing people – I know that for me and a few of my other friends can go into a work bubble and not leave the desk for days at a time. So this week I have forced myself out of the house to go see other humans! This included a group screening of the first episode of game of thrones. It was sooo good!

I have a feeling this turned into a how to survive a dissertation post but I’m okay with that! If you’re working on a big project I hope my tips will help you too! Just a quick reminder that there will be no blogs next week and I won’t be on the internet as I’m heading to the wonderful land of Wales!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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The Monthly Species: July

Hello everyone I know its not exactly near the end of the month yet but I will be taking next week away from all things internet so it’s time for the species of this month! It’s something that has been keeping me going this month and one little specimen of this species sits on my desk every single day it is of course!

Arabica Coffee

Image result for arabica coffee plant

Scientific Classification:

Scientific Name : Coffea arabica

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Rubiaceae
Subfamily: Ixoroideae
Tribe: Coffeeae
Genus: Coffea

Size: Wild plants can grow between 9 and 12 metres tall with open branching systems. In coffee plantations the growth is often more formalized.

Habitat: This species is endemic to the Yemen and Ethiopia. However now there are coffee plantations in Africa, Latin America, South east Asia and China.

Use’s: This wonderful plant accounts for 70% of the world’s coffee production! The coffee we know and love comes from roasting the seeds which are found in coffee berries. The berries are often picked by hand to make sure they’re ripe enough or the plants are shaken so that only ripe berries fall off and on to mats that are placed at the base of the bush.

Conservation: Coffee plantations have been the reason why forest habitats have been destroyed reducing habitats for many species. However, climate change affecting rising temperatures, longer droughts and excessive rainfall has affected the sustainability of coffee plantations.

The Coolest Thing Ever About This Species:

Coffee was the first food to ever be freeze dried!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Becoming A Master – Back to GIS

Week 32

Hello and a very happy Sunday to you! So this week I have been using all my GIS skills once again but now I’m using them in my dissertation. If you didn’t know GIS stands for geographical information systems and is a really cool tool you can use to layer information that has a spatial element. Then you can build up the layers to see if there is a correlation between all of the information. I’ve talked about all the ins and outs with GIS before and you can read about it here if you’re interested.

In terms of GIS for my dissertation, I’ve been putting all my results from my field work onto a map to see if there is any connection between the biodiversity I’ve found and other spatial elements. Particularly when questioning whether the presence of trees in the hedgerows affect the general biodiversity. This is when I would show you my beautiful maps but I need to keep them to myself for a little while until my dissertation gets marked. However the basics behind it is I have mapped out the trees in my survey area as a layer and then I mapped over the biodiversity I found using the alpha biodiversity. This can then show me where the biodiversity is lower and if this happens to be where the hedgerows are dense with trees.

I’m using a similar technique to show the affect of badger damage on hedgerows. Badgers will often use the hedgerow to build part of their sets. This can often lead to lots of the plant life being destroyed. So I’m using GIS to see if that is an issue on my sample site too!

GIS is one of those tools that never fails to provide you with a fantastic figure and is a great skill for any budding biologist out there to learn!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Skip Class Not Concealer – My thoughts…

Ooo an extra blog post from me this week! Well there’s been something happening online particularly on instagram that I wanted to throw my two cents in.

Benefit Cosmetics is a brand that I love a lot, they were the first slightly more expensive brand that I bought from and their makeup is flawless. Then this happened…

Image result for skip class not concealer benefit

You might be thinking, oh it’s just an advertising campaign it’s not going to do any harm. I however did take some offence to this. This brand is literally telling women that their looks are more important than their education! That is so unbelievably not okay!

I believe this is particularly damaging for young women. I remember being in school where how you looked was extremely important and there were girls in my class that would miss the first 10 minutes of class because of touch ups in the bathroom. To have a brand reinforce this behaviour as not just a good thing but a necessary thing is awful.

If I had skipped class for the sake of putting some make up on my face I might not have done so well in my classes. I might have ended up not being able to get a good degree in a subject that I love and I might not have ended up doing a masters degree at one of the top university’s in the country (Bit braggy, but you see my point).

I feel like brands have a duty to encourage education not down play it. Education is so incredibly important because the stuff you learn at school does set you up for what can be an incredible future.

Thanks to many people complaining about this branding from the looks of things benefit has had to pull the advertising campaign!

Finally, just as a quick side note to any young girls who are reading all of this, just go and have look at the #womeninstem on instagram and just see all the truly stunning women who are spending their life working hard and never skipping class!

Thank you for reading this slightly different post! See you all on Sunday!

Top 10 UK Birds

Hello! Today I want to introduce you to some of my favourite bird species. Birds are just the most fascinating things to watch and ever since my parents put a bird feeder in their garden I’ve learnt a lot about the different bird species. So without further a do here are 10 of my favourites!

  1. Barn Owl (Tyto alba) – Barn Owls are my favourite owl, aside from being the most beautiful owl they are also impressive hunters with incredible hearing. This hearing means they can catch prey with sound alone! Barn owl hovering
  2. Robin (Erithacus rubecula) –  Male robins can actually be quite an aggressive and territorial bird with other birds which can lead to fatalities. Over winter each robin will have a territory of approximately half a hectare. Robin on flower pot
  3. Buzzard (Buteo buteo) – These birds are one of the most widespread in the UK and can live up to 12 years old. They are an amazing bird of prey and if ever you get a chance to see them hunting its well worth a watch!Buzzard in flight head on
  4. Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) – These little pond dwelling birds hold a special place in my heart because the lake at Bath Spa University had loads of them. They were the first bird species I could properly identify. I mean it also helps that they are adorable! Image result for moorhen
  5. Swan (Cygnus olor) – I feel like this list wouldn’t be complete without Swans. Again there was a resident pair at Bath Spa Uni that had signets ever year. They were very protective of their nests as swans are and I once had to run defence for my friend who was working on the lake and distract the swan!Mute swan swimming
  6. Crow (Corvus corone) – I have had my issues with crows in the past but they still are incredibly intelligent animals! They can recognise faces and even hold grudges! Image result for carrion crow
  7. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) – Sparrow populations have declined by up to 62% in the last 25 years and now they are on the IUCN red list. House sparrow (female)
  8. Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) – These are undeniably one of the most stunning bird species on this list and can be seen almost everywhere in the UK apart from the very north and west of Scotland.Image result
  9. White-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)- This is the largest UK bird species and went extinct in the 20th century from hunting and egg-collecting but has since been reintroduced. They are truly fantastic birds of prey and stunning to watch. Image result for white tailed eagle uk
  10. Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) – Another beautiful little bird that are a delight to sit and watch. In the winter they have family flocks that can be up to 20 birds in size!

Image result

Hope you’ve enjoyed this little foray into the avian world! What’s your favourite bird let me know in the comments!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Becoming A Master – A Week In The Life

Week 31

Hello everyone, this week has been a busy one and instead of writing this on a Sunday and reflecting on the week just gone I’ve written a little each day. Hopefully this will show you that in my life currently there is no daily routine and every day is a little different.

Monday: Today I’ve been running a few errands, getting the shopping in and such as well as catching up on the emails I missed from being at home. I also spent a lot of today researching and writing for The Woodland Trust. I really love the volunteering I do for them as I just learn so much! If you’d like to see the work I do for them here are a few links:

Wild Orchids in the UK

Why Do Nettles Sting?

How to forage wild garlic!

Tuesday: Today I’ve been running through my statistics focusing on finding statistically significant results. These are important as when something is statistically significant you can say with more confidence that one thing is affecting another. This can be difficult to show in ecology as there are lots of variables out in the outside world!

Wednesday: Today I’ve been continuing with my work on Tuesday but also developing my reasons why I’m finding certain results. Stats can sometimes leave you with more questions than answers! I’ve been developing theories and working out what I want to say with my dissertation. This has somewhat left me with a few moments of yelling into a pillow when I don’t know which way is best! – All the fun of a masters I guess!

Thursday: The statistics continued today and I managed to answer some questions that I had from yesterday. I also collated all the work I’ve done so far for my meeting tomorrow.

Friday: Today I had a meeting with my supervisor for my dissertation. He gave me lots of ideas about how to use all the data analysis I’ve doing to create a succinct and convincing story. Which is great because I have a lot of editing to do!

After my meeting I went to go and give blood for the first time! I’ve always wanted to do this because I have no reason why I cant do it and every time someone gives blood they can save three different lives. It’s an incredible thing to do so go and do it if you can. It didn’t hurt nearly as much as how I’d built it up in my head and the nurses were totally lovely!

Saturday: So today I wrote up everything from my meeting and got to some planning. Although I did spend the afternoon on the sims… everyone needs a break!

Sunday:  I’m currently writing this just before I’m about to head out to spend some time with friends and my wonderful other half. We’re heading to the pottermore pop up shop in London and I am so excited! If you are also a potter fan let me know in the comments!

Hope you’ve enjoyed this update!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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