Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Zoological Society visit to the Natural History Museum, London

Our group on the steps of the museum's main entrance.
(Photo: Paul Ramsay)
Today we visited the Natural History Museum (NHM) in London, for a behind-the-scenes look at the scientific work being carried out there. The trip was organized by Jo Briffitt of Plymouth University's Zoological Society.

Despite bringing a group of 46 to the museum, we were taken through the doors closed to the public, into the basements and along the corridors, to the scientific collection, where the real work is done. We also had the chance to catch up with four of our graduates, now working at the NHM, three in paid jobs there and a fourth getting experience on an internship.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Conservation Biology Field Course, Mexico, Days 14-15

A Green Iguana (Iguana iguana) at the edge of the Río Hondo.
(Photo: Wai Yi)
This is the last blog entry for the 2013 Mexico field course. Our last full day in Mexico was free to do whatever we wanted. Some went on a boat trip along the Río Hondo, which forms the border between Mexico and Belize. Others went to relax next to Laguna Bacalar and Cenote Azul. "Read on" for photos.

Conservation Biology Field Course, Mexico, Days 11-13

A tray of insect specimens in ECOSUR's zoology museum
in Chetumal. (Photo: Wai Yi)
We headed back to the forest on Day 11 for some experiments on ant-plant relationships at the INIFAP research station, San Felipe Bacalar.

On Day 12, we visited ECOSUR in Chetumal and visited their zoology museum for an in-depth tour of a working research museum. We were also shown the important forest bee work that is carried out by ECOSUR staff--not just the ecological research, but also conservation and bee-keeping advice.

The students prepared for and sat an end-of-field-course test on Day 13. Click on "Read more" for some more details, including photos.

Conservation Biology Field Course, Mexico, Days 8-10

The Conservation Biology group 2013 at the Mayan
ruins of Dzibanché. (Photo: Miguel Franco)
Days 8-10 involved a trip to the coast, a boat trip through the mangroves of Laguna Guerrero and Chetumal Bay, and a day at the Mayan ruins of Dzibanché.

Once a small fishing village, Mahahual is now a destination for cruise ships. Some days three ships might be moored at once, with potentially 12,000 passengers looking for something to do. Other days, the village is more or less deserted. During this year's visit, we saw the ghost town version.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Conservation Biology Field Course, Mexico, Days 4-7

The next installment of the field course covers our trip south to Chetumal and our rainforest survey activities. Read more for photos and an idea of what we did.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Outdoor ID Workshops with OPAL

Today is officially the most depressing day of the year, so it is a good time to get outside! If you feel like getting out and about and learning some new ID skills at the same time, then OPAL is running two sessions over the next couple of weeks just so you can do this! Spaces are limited so email me to book a place:

Winter woodland surveys and ID workshops:

Wednesday 30th January 1-4pm – Soil invertebrate ID & surveys: We’ll be carrying out the national OPAL Soil and Earthworm Survey and doing some deadwood surveys. There are 26 species of earthworm in Britain, so plenty to find out about! We’ll also cover some deadwood invertebrate ID. 

Wednesday 6th February 1-4pm – Winter plant ID workshop, Ham Woods: We’ll be doing a mix of ID for winter trees/twigs, lower plants (ferns and mosses) and herbaceous species. We will tie this in with a survey to record the distribution of ancient woodland plants and invasive species. This will be helping with some preliminary data collection for a research project at Ham Woods, to help the local ‘Friends of Ham Woods’ community group assess the impacts of different management regimes on woodland ground flora. We will be looking for volunteers to help with the surveys for this work in the future, so if you are interested in this then come along to this session.

Natural History Competition for Schools:

OPAL is also running a competition for local schools to encourage them to explore their local environment, and we need some enthusiastic volunteers to help! Primary and Secondary schools are being encouraged to enter any projects they have worked on to do with local wildlife and nature (e.g. creating or restoring a habitat, monitoring biodiversity at their school). They will be invited to an exhibition at the University in May, to showcase their project to University scientists. We want to make this a great day for all the schools that come along, and will be running activities in Drake’s Place Gardens on campus and in Labplus. Volunteers will be needed to accompany school groups around the activities, to engage with the children/young people, and help inspire them about science and nature. Drop me an email if you'd like to help out. 

Conservation Biology Field Course, Days 1-3

We met up in Cancún airport on 28 December and travelled the short distance to Puerto Morelos and a hotel on the beach.

View from our hotel in Puerto Morelos.
(Photo: Wai Yi)
Beach at Puerto Morelos.
(Photo: Wai Yi)
A refreshing swim at the end of a day
in the forest. (Photo: Paul Ramsay)

We spent two days in the Dr Alfredo Barrera Botanical Gardens in Puerto Morelos, identifying trees and spotting animals. Here are some of our photos...

Conservation Biology field course, Mexico 2013

We have just returned from a field course to the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico, part of our BSc Conservation Biology degree. Normally, we would post details of activities directly from Mexico, but the Internet connections were not up to the job this year. Instead, I will post them here over the next week or so.

Group photo at the start of the field course.