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

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Sponsor Me

Advertisements

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!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

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!

Some Thanks

So I hand in my dissertation tomorrow. It’s not quite the end of my masters but it definitely feels like it! So I hope you won’t mind this won’t be particularly about biology because I have to thank some people.

This degree has been emotionally, mentally and occassionally physically draining. I’ve put my heart and soul into it and it’s a wonderful feeling to be nearing the end of such a crazy year. I know it might sound cliche but I really really really would not have gotten through it without my wonderful group of people and I have to say thank you.

Firstly to my incredible parents. I wouldn’t have been able to do the course without your support and I cannot thank you enough for letting me have this opportunity. Your constant support throughout this year and my entire life is so important to me and I love you so much.

Secondly to my other half. He doesn’t get a mention here but he is my rock in life. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have him and really he’s just incredible. I love you and I always will.

Thirdly to my siblings. You forever make me laugh and smile and you remind me not to take myself too seriously. You guys are amazing!

To my inner sanctum, it has been a total pleasure getting to know you all this year. You are all so incredibly smart and I know that whatever you guys want to do in life you’ll succeed at. In 5 years time you can be sure we’ll be running the world. But seriously I thought this year could end up being a little lonely and it definitely hasn’t been with you guys around.

To Danielle, Amanda and Becca. My wonderful course friends, can you believe that from rooming together in Norfolk we have finally finished it. Thank you for being such great people to share ideas with and moan about how tough its been. I can’t wait to see where we all go from here.

And thank you to all the wonderful twitterati that have been a great source of enjoyment and support! Then finally thank you to anyone who has taken the time to read my blogs, it’s wonderful knowing that my words are reaching someone!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Sponsor Me

 

 

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!

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Sponsor Me

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!

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Sponsor Me

Top 10 Hedgerow Plants

Hello! I have been working on my dissertation for my masters which is all about hedgerows and their conservation. This has meant I’ve got to know the plants in Cornish hedgerows really well so without further a do here are 10 of my favourites!

  1. Red Campion (Silene dioica) – This is one of the most common wild flowers I found as part of my research. Traditional medicines used the seeds to treat snakebites and its genus name comes from the greek word sialon which means saliva.
  2. Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) – Easily the plant I was most aware of in my research because I had all the stings to prove I had found it. However, stinging nettles have their place in the hedgerow and provide an excellent habitat and food source for lots of my favourite butterflies.
  3. Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) – This was one of the main shrubs I found in my hedgerows. It can be extremely dense but provide food and habitat for up to 300 different species of insect. It was once said that if you brought a hawthorn blossom into your house illness and death were to follow so perhaps admire this plant from afar.
  4. Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) – Another common hedgerow shrub also known by the name of sloe bush. It’s berries are commonly made into sloe gin but another interesting fact is that blackthorn wood was associated with witchcraft.
  5. Buttercup (Ranunculus repens) – Otherwise known as the species with the best latin name I have ever heard of. I commonly found creeping buttercup at the bottom of hedgerows. It used to be a favourite game of mine and my friends at primary school to hold a buttercup flower underneath each others chins and if you could see the yellow reflection of the flower it meant you liked butter. Not particularly sure why that mattered but it’s still a delightful little flower.
  6. Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) – Fun fact sycamore trees are actually my favourite tree. They have the most beautiful colours in them all year round as the young leaves and stems are red before going green. They are actually an introduced species in the UK but they have been here since the 17th century. They can live for up to 400 years so I think the Sycamore is here to stay!
  7. Fools Parsley (Aethusa cynapium) – This one wasn’t very common so I definitely had to dig around to find it but I did! In some areas it grows quite commonly but every hedge is different.
  8. Dogs Violet (Viola riviana) – This is another very sweet wildflower that I found in my research. If you do happen upon a violet looking flower it’s more than likely going to be this one.
  9. Hazel (Corylus avellana) – This is another very common hedgerow tree. It provides an excellent resource for many other species but often suffers when cut back to vigorously. The stems are very bendy in spring so much that they can be bent into a knot without breaking!
  10. Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) – This species was introduced to the UK in the 19th century as an ornamental species and has since escaped from gardens and can be found in lots of areas. I found some specimens in the base of my hedgerows but was always careful of them as the sap from this species can cause irritation and even blisters.

If you fancy finding out more about hedgerows I’m talking a lot about them in my becoming a master series which comes out on Sundays!

See you soon!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Sponsor Me

Disney Effect Part 2 – Where is Nemo?

Hello! So during in VEDA I introduced the idea of the disney effect affecting the conservation of certain species. For today’s blog I thought I could take a look at the case study of clown fish. Clown fish are delightful fish that live near sea anemones hense why they can also be called anemonefish. There are 28 different species and they come in a large range of colours. Orange clownfish and the most famous kind are the species Amphiprion percula and A. ocellaris. They are really popular aquarium fish and here is kind of where our story begins.

The clownfish are obviously they key characters in finding Nemo. The film was released in 2003 and the film did incredibly well with great ratings and this led to a few different affects.

The first was that it pushed a spotlight on to the ocean and how its treated. It brought ocean protection into the media because the general public was made aware of how important and diverse the ocean is. The pressure from the public is always extremely powerful for the environment to get policies pushed forward. Although ocean protection has been important there was a notable rise in the interest to protect the oceans when the movie came out.

The other main affect was that many people wanted their very own nemo or dory. The demand for these fish went through the roof and to supply this demand many clownfish were removed from the wild. This happened to an extent where there was local extinction particularly in south east Asia. Now many of the fish you see available to purchase are bred in captivity however the damage of local extinction affected the coral habitat as a whole.

The power that disney has to affect public opinion can be massive. Luckily with the release of finding dory there was a larger affect to improve the message of conservation within the movie. Nevertheless the lessons learned from the affect that finding nemo had should be remembered with any future disney project.

Let me know what you think, is disney doing a good thing by putting these messages into their films or is it irresponsible because it can affect the population of a species on a global scale?

Til next time!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Sponsor Me

The Future of ThatBiologist

Hello and welcome to this ominous sounding blog!

I have been writing here for just over two years! I love every second of it and everyone’s support particularly on twitter has been phenomenal. Now before you think anything too wild I am not leaving or stopping in anyway! I actually want to grow my blog and take thatbiologist to new platforms. I’ve been working on a podcast series that I really want to develop as well as keeping up with new content here!

To do all this I need some funds. I’d love to own my domain here and become thatbiologist.com as well as keep everything free for the masses! So if you do enjoy my content and would like to support it you can donate to my new patreon page. By doing so not only will you be helping me here but you’ll also get sneak behind the scenes access to what I’m up to.

Thank you for your continued support! Happy Biologying everyone!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Becoming A Master – Field Work Beginnings

Week 26

Hello! So this week in my life I have finally begun my field work. I’m working on a project looking at the conservation of hedgerows. I’m doing this by looking at the biodiversity in the hedgerow and then comparing this with the management system of them. To look at the biodiversity I’m conducting a floral assemblage study which basically means identifying the species of the plants growing in the hedgerows and then identifying there percentage cover.

Unfortunately the weather wasn’t great here in Cornwall in the beginning of the week. This meant a few difficulties like trying to keep paper dry and wearing lots of layers so I don’t freeze! I’ve also had to bring lots of specimens home to identify in the dry with all the technology to help me.

However on Thursday, there was beautiful warm sunshine which was much easier  (and more enjoyable) to work in. I even found some little Great Tit chicks which was a great find! I have also been trying to keep up with keeping my notes in order on my computer and updating them every day after coming in from the fields. This way my notes don’t get too garbled and I remember what the squiggles mean.

All in all its been a good first week of field work and has been very productive! More fun to come next week! If you’d like more pictures of my antics, the best place for that is my instagram!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram