The Monthly Round Up: Svalbard Seeds, SophTalksScience and Stuff You Should Know

The Monthly Round Up

February is always a blink and you’ll miss it kinda month for me. This month was a busy one as I had a little holiday to Italy and came back with a cold which put me out of action writing wise. But I’ve also had two blogs come out on TheWoodlandTrust website which you can read here and here! Anyway here are what I’ve been loving in February!

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February

Favourite Science News Story Of The Month:

The Global Seed Bank now has just over 1 million packets of seeds! If you didn’t know about the global seed bank it is an initiative to collect as many seeds from as many plants as possible to stop plants becoming extinct. The vault is in Norway and keeps the seeds at an incredibly low temperature to preserve them. Read more about it here.

Favourite Blog I’ve read this Month:

The wonderful Sophie from Soph Talks Science has been absolutely killing it with her scicomm this month. I found it so difficult to pick a favourite of hers but I’ve landed on 10 Reasons why lab life is actually awesome. I miss being in a lab so much and all the fun times and this blog reminded me of that. It’s also a really uplifting blog if you’re feeling a little down about your life. Sophie is such a big inspiration for my own writing so please do go and check her out!

Favourite Scientific Fact I’ve Learnt This Month:

I think my favourite scientific fact I learnt about was all about how Bees get it on, you can read all about it in my Love in the Animal Kingdom blog!

Favourite Social Media I’ve Followed This Month:

Instagram – Ecoceanic

This is a brand that I absolutely love and their message of improving the worlds oceans is so inspirational! They have a fantastic instagram that you should really follow just for the posts about things you can do to improve the environment.

Twitter – TeaTime Science

This is a collection of phd students posting about their work which I absolutely love, their instagram is also fabulous!

Books I’ve Been Reading:

I took a little holiday to Rome this month and spent some time reading some cheery “chicklit” fiction books. This included  Some Kind of Wonderful by Giovanna Fletcher and now I’m reading The Beach Cafe by Lucy Diamond.

Podcasts I’ve Been Listening To:

Stuff You Should Know – HowStuffWorks

I’ve recently been listening to some of the extensive backlog of this podcast they have such a wide topic range but all of the podcasts are really well researched and have balanced arguments. I would really recommend the episode where they compare whether marijuana or alcohol is worse for you.

I’d love to know your answers to these questions so please let me know in the comments or on twitter!

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The Monthly Round Up: Squirting, Studies and Superheros

The Monthly Round Up

Hello and welcome to my new monthly series. Last year I had The Monthly Species and the year before that I had The Monthly Scientist. This year I fancied doing something slightly different. I really enjoyed writing my BAM series and letting you all in on my day to day life. I wanted to bring back an element of that with this monthly series. The Monthly Round Up will be kind of like a favourites blog but with a very scientific theme and well I’ll let you read on to the rest of this blog for it to explain itself.

January

Favourite Science News Story Of The Month:

I am friends with a few people who are guilty of humblebragging. If you’re not familiar with what humblebragging is, it’s when someone will say something like “Oh I’m amazed at how great I am at my new job” or “Wow, I never have anything nice to wear since I lost all that weight”. A new study has revealed (what I already knew to be true) in that humblebragging is way more annoying than just regular bragging or even self-promotion! You can read more about it here.

Favourite Blog I’ve read this Month:

I guess this technically isn’t a blog but I found this piece by the Washington Post through the amazing blog Nothing In Biology Makes Sense (well worth a follow). It’s all about the carbon footprint of superheros, turns out in terms of saving the worlds environment they would definitely not be the good guys! I definitely would suggest reading this one, or at the least looking at the poster they produced! You can find it here!

Favourite Scientific Fact I’ve Learnt This Month:

This has to come from the book that I’ve been reading (listed below) and that is about the squirting cucumber or Ecballium elaterium. When its fruits are ripe they actually explode and send their seeds in a “torrent of mucilaginous goo”. It can cause the seeds to be ejected up to 7 metres away from the parent plant! Just be careful because this cucumber is poisonous! Here’s a slo-mo video of them in action!

Favourite Social Media I’ve Followed This Month:

Instagram – This one has to go to Sophie from The Scientific Beauty – She’s got a killer sense of style and a PhD. What more could you want from an insta feed. Honestly I just love her posts and her red theme, you can find her at @sciencebeaut

Twitter – This month I’ve got to give a shout out to Alex Evans. I interviewed him last year but his twitter is something else to behold. He holds a great game called Guess The Crest which I have only got right once but also has the best retweets. You can find him on twitter @alexevans91

Books I’ve Been Reading:

Bizarre Botany by Christina Harrison and Lauren Gardiner – I won’t give too much away because I will be doing a full book review soon but it’s well worth picking up and taking a look at!

Podcasts I’ve Been Listening To:

Level up human – I’ve been listening to some of the older editions of the podcast and they make me laugh, smile and think about the world. They always have really funny and interesting guests and I strongly encourage you to go and check it out!

I’d love to know your answers to these questions so please let me know in the comments or on twitter!

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ThatBiologist Is Back

Miscellaneous

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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Becoming A Master – A Week In The Life

BAM

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!

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2017 Plans

Miscellaneous

Hello! Hope you all had a wonderful christmas break! Today I want to talk to you about all my exciting goals for this year.

This year I will *fingers crossed* be finishing my masters degree, obviously I’ll be writing all about it over on the BAM series. I want to make a real effort of documenting particularly the process of my dissertation. Dissertation are hard work that require pretty much all that you’ve got so I want to write all about that work and the results I get.

Other series like my mini wikis and fairyology will still be here! I want to create a really great collection for both of these series. However the Monthly Scientist has now finished and is being replaced by the Monthly Species. With this series I want to try and find some really weird and wonderful species to tell you about! There will be some brand new series coming out. My main goal for this year is to introduce you to some of the wonderful work in conservation because there is so much going on to make this world better!

The other goal I have for this year is to make a few more videos. They won’t be as regular as my blogs but it would be great to express my love for Biology in a different format. If you have any suggestions for things youd like to see or hear from me the best way is to drop me a tweet @thatbiologist!

Here’s to a great year of documenting biology!

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The Monthly Scientist: Mr November

The Monthly Scientist

Imagine you’re going to have to have surgery in 1800, say for example your leg has a nasty wound and the only way forward is to amputate. Now surgery back then could have easily meant the end of your life. Not necessarily through the surgery itself but it would have been more than likely you would have developed an infection. Nasty ones at that, all that started to change with this months scientist:

Dr Joseph Lister

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Born: 5, April 1827

Died: 10, February 1912

Noted for: Pioneering antiseptic techniques in surgery

Why scientist of the month?

I’ll be honest, I’m really glad that medicine has come on as much as it has. One of the most important advances in medicine has been the antiseptic technique. This basically means that microbes that cause infections are tried to be kept to an absolute minimum. This is partly down to Lister, he was a surgeon that believed (correctly) microbes carried in the air that caused diseases to be spread in wards. People who had been operated on were especially vulnerable as their bodies were weak and their skin had been cut open so that germs could get into the body with more ease.

So he came up with a method to try and combat this. Everything had to be thoroughly cleaned in his surgeries including the wound itself. Then he went further by devising a machine that pumped out a fine mist of carbolic acid into the air around an operation. Using this method the number of patients that died in his surgeries greatly reduced. Like going from a 45% death rate to 15%! This gradually became common practice and then further advancements were made in the antiseptic technique to get us where we are today.

So I personally would like to thank Joseph Lister for making surgery far safer than in the 1800s!

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Meeting Pickle

Miscellaneous

Hello! Today I want to tell you about a very special day I had in August, the day that I met Pickle.

Pickle is a Humboldt penguin that lives at Newquay Zoo. I got to meet him as part of the

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Me and Pickle (BFF’s)

penguin feeding experience there alongside my other half. Pickle is quite a special penguin in that he was raised by humans and has since struggled to fully ascertain that he is in fact a penguin and not a human. He falls in love with humans when he meets them and sings to them like penguins sing to their penguin partners. When I sat down next to him he let me stroke his feathers and snuggled into me, it was truly an amazing experience to see a penguin so close and to see them all so happy. Aside from meeting pickle I got to meet all the other penguins living there, who did not care for humans without fish and I learnt a lot about these penguins and other species of penguin from the keeper. One thing I thought that was really interesting was most penguins live in warm climates, Humboldt penguins are native to Chile and Peru. They also have salt glands to get rid of salt from the ocean which they sneeze out (Penguin sneezes are the cutest thing). Feeding them was so much fun and it was great to learn that at Newquay zoo they have a fantastic breeding programme. Either way I thought I had to let you guys know all about Humboldt penguins so below is there profile! Enjoy!

Humboldt Penguin

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Scientific Classification:

 

Order: Sphenisciformes

Family: Spheniscidae

Genus: Spheniscus

Species: humboldti

Scientific Name: Spheniscus humboldti

Size:

They are medium-sized penguins, growing to 56–70 cm long and a weight of 3.6-5.9 kg. Baring in mind the biggest penguin (the emperor penguin) grow to about 122cm tall and have a weight of up to 45kg.

Diet:

They eat fish, mainly anchovies, krill and squid.

Life expectancy:

On average they live around 20 years in the wild however at Newquay zoo they have a penguin called Mother who is 28 years old!

Reproduction:

Humboldt penguins make nests in between cracks and crevices in rocks, at the zoo they had ones made from fibreglass for them. Females lay one or two eggs. When chicks hatch after a 40 day incubation period, both parents take in turns to care for them. After about two months, the chick is left alone during the day while both parents hunt for food. Most of the time it is one male and one female taking care of the chicks however in Germany two adult male Humboldt penguins adopted an egg that had been abandoned by its biological parents. After the egg hatched, the two male penguins raised, protected, cared for, and fed the chick in the same manner that regular penguin couples raise their own biological offspring.

Conservation Status:

It is currently under the IUCN red list classed as vulnerable. The population of Humboldt penguins is declining, caused partly by over-fishing, climate change, and ocean acidification. The main reason for their decline is due to habitat destruction, and in the over collecting of guano (that’s the accumulated excrement of seabirds, seals, or cave-dwelling bats which is used as a fertiliser) by humans. Removal of guano means that penguins cannot build there nests up adequately to protect their chicks, leaving them exposed to predators and severe weather conditions. However in August 2010 penguins in Peru and Chile were granted protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

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Save The Sharks

The Shark Tank

I hope you’ve thoroughly enjoyed this week of shark related blogs, I’ve loved writing them! Today we’re looking at what we can do to help the sharks out and whats currently being done.

Shark Conservation

Unlike other species we can’t take sharks out of the ocean and put them into captive breeding programmes. The sharks just don’t survive so all the shark conservation has to be done out in the ocean. However there is lots being done to help out our shark friends.

Legislation – By far this is the biggest way we can help the sharks. Using the law we can protect the waters they swim in as well as making it illegal to catch them for sport. This is also the best way we can stop sharks being caught and used for food as well as beauty products. The only issue with this is that often legislation has loop holes but it has been shown to help!

Ecotourism – Sharks still have a pretty bad rep, mostly thanks to the film and tv industry. Now if you’ve been reading this weeks blogs you know that this is simply not true. Well ecotourism is also a great way to do the same! If sharks have a better reputation then we can get more voices putting pressure on their governments to protect them! As well as this often ecotourism ventures will put some of the money back into more shark conservation efforts.

Knowledge – By learning more about sharks we know how to help them better. This can be done by putting more money into research. There are lots of studies going on worldwide tagging lots of different species of shark and tracking them.

How can you help?

You don’t have to be a marine biologist or conservationist to help out the sharks. There are things you can do right now to help them even if you live no where near the ocean!

  1. First things first, don’t eat shark! It’s not only bad for the shark if you eat them but it’s also bad for you. Shark meat has really high levels of mercury in it. Eating a lot of mercury can lead to damage to your vital organs and immune system.
  2. Keep shark out of your beauty products. If they contain the ingredient Squalene that is shark liver oil.
  3. Don’t buy shark products! Leave their teeth where they should be.
  4. Don’t support businesses that use sharks. Like restaurants that serve it or beauty companies that use the oils.
  5. Be aware of where your seafood comes from. Sharks often get caught up in nets and die needlessly. So look on the packet for dolphin and shark friendly seafood!
  6. Keep informed, the more you know about sharks the better and then share what you know to get more people on the shark train!

I’ve really loved writing about my favourite group of species. Shark conservation is so important to me because I want to keep all the sharks around for more people to see. They are a huge part in the marine ecosystem and must be protected. Back to normal programming next week!

More articles from the Shark Tank

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6 in 60 – Number 36: Fishing

6in60

For all of my blogs on ocean life I thought I’d list 6 things you don’t know about fishing!

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  1. Fishing is one of the most popular outdoor recreational activities in the United States. While participation has decreased slightly in recent years, more than 55 million Americans still took at least one fishing trip in 2013.
  2. One of the chief consequences of industrial fishing is that some species have been overfished to the point of near extinction.
  3. Ghost pots are when crab pots are left and forgotten about in the ocean and they can often attract turtles. A single ghost pot was discovered in Georgia that contained more than 130 deceased turtles.
  4. Some bad fishing practices such as bottom trawling has been linked with degradation  of ocean beds and depleted water quality.
  5.  In 2008, up to one third of the total fish catch in UK waters was found to be discarded. Most that are discarded do not survive after being thrown back into the sea so discarding is a waste of resources as well as a conservation threat.
  6. In 1992 the once thriving cod fishing industry came to a sudden and full stop when at the start of the fishing season no cod appeared. Overfishing allowed by decades of fisheries mismanagement was the main cause for this disaster that resulted in almost 40.000 people losing their livelihood and an ecosystem in complete state of decay

The Sources

Fact 1 comes from this site. Fact 2 and 3 comes from environmentalscience.org and fact 4 comes from greenliving. Fact 5 comes from the sustainable sea coalition. That’s also where I got the rather lovely picture of the boat from. Fact 6 on overfishing comes from overfishing.org. Well seemed like an appropriate website to me!

Want more 6 in 60 – click here!

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The Monthly Scientist: Mr March

The Monthly Scientist

March is the birth month of probably one of the most famous scientists, therefore Mr March goes to the one and only…

Albert Einstein

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Born: March 14 1879

Died: April 18 1955

Noted for: Theoretical Physicist and one of the most famous scientists out there.

Why scientist of the month?

I could be here forever writing about how great a physicist Einstein was so I’ll try and keep this short and sweet.

  • Albert_Einstein_violin.jpgAt 16, Einstein is said to have failed an exam that would have let him train to become an electrical engineer.
  • He also failed his university entrance exam and had to retake a year later.
  • In 1905, Einstein got his Ph.D and wrote a paper on the topic now called the special theory of relativity.
  • Aside from being a fantastic scientist he also played the violin!
  • He had an IQ of 160 that’s the same as Stephen Hawking
  • He won his Nobel prize in Physics in 1921, it was not for relativity and was actually for his work in photoelectric effect.
  • The Nobel prize money ended up going to his ex-wife as a divorce settlement.
  • Galileo Galilei was apparently his favourite scientist.

It can be sure that he has inspired many generations of scientist’s, what I’ve learnt most from him as that you don’t have to succeed the first time you just have to keep trying. To conclude I had to put in my favourite quote of Einstein’s:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

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