This Thursday we have Simon from Wildlife ACT giving us a talk. Wildlife ACT Fund is a non-profit trust on a mission to save our planets’ endangered wildlife and wild places from extinction. Passionate, experienced, on-the ground conservationists doing critical work where it’s needed most. Delivering time and expertise, implementing anti-poaching measures, finding and funding equipment, and educating local communities.
They also offer some of the most unique African wildlife research opportunities and practical learning environments in South Africa for those wishing to gather research data for undergraduate degrees. Monitor Africa’s iconic species and the habitats in which they live.
The zoom link for this event will be posted in the facebook group. If you can’t access facebook, not a problem. Just shoot us a quick message at firstname.lastname@example.org for the zoom information!
This weeks #FactFriday we are diving deeper into the world of the tardigrade belonging to the phylum tardigrada which comprises over 1,100 species!
These little creatures are usually around 1mm long and have a well-formed head and body consisting of 4 segments, each with a pair of feet with claws or suction discs attached.
Tardigrades are commonly found on lichen, mosses, leaf litter and marine and freshwater sediment all over the world. They can live from hot springs in the Himalayas to the Antarctic and have been found to survive in space. While not being classed as extremophiles (due to them entering a state of cryptobiosis, known as a “tun”) they can survive extreme temperatures, pressures, radioactivity and desiccation.
Most tardigrades are plant eaters and feed by piercing a plant cell with their stylets. Some species are carnivores, feeding on bacteria and even other smaller tardigrade species. While most species only live 3-4 months, some can live for up to 2 years.
DNA sequencing revealed tardigrades to have 75-800 mega-base pairs. The genome of the most stress tolerant species, Ramazzottius varieornatus, was sequenced in 2015 who found that ~1.2% of it’s genes were a result of horizontal gene transfer from bacteria. They also found evidence of a damage suppressor gene (Dsup) which was shown to protect against DNA damage from X-ray radiation. When the team then applied the Dsup protein to human cells, it was found to prevent damage of cells to X-ray radiation by around 40%. #tardigrade
Climate Week North East is running from the 12-21st March. They’ve got a range of events planned with many focussing on biodiversity and land management. Attending could be a great way to make some friendly connections and ask any questions you have about the conservation industry! We’ve attached the brochure so have a look and see if anything takes your fancy!
We’re excited to announce the (official) opening of our annual photography competition! We know some of you take some incredible photographs so we want to celebrate the talent with this competition. We have 3 main entry categories:
1. Best of British: We have the most amazing landscapes and wildlife right on our doorsteps so if you’ve ventured way up into the Highlands of Scotland or down to the unique coast of Southern England, or anywhere in between – we want your best wildlife or landscape snaps from the British Isles.
2. International Admiration: Whether you’ve moved to Scotland from your own stunning country, or you’ve headed off somewhere brilliant on holiday or expedition – we want your most vibrant shots from around the globe.
3. Macro: The little things in life are important, and some of the world’s most impressive creatures are the wee ones. It takes a lot of skill to master macro photography so our final category will celebrate the tiniest of marvels the natural world has to offer.
Send in any entries to our email email@example.com with your name, date the photo was taken and any story behind the snap! Remember that anyone who’s sent in #wildlifefromhome photos throughout the year will also be automatically entered.
Your photos don’t need to be from the past year, we’ve had entries from as far back as the 1970s! You can only enter once per category but as many categories as you like. A winner and runner up for each category will be chosen by our trusty committee, and there’ll be a prize for each category! Each year the winning photo’s are printed on canvases and displayed in the Graham Kerr building as well as representing our society on all our newsletters and membership cards.
We’ll be closing the competition the last week of the semester! Good luck!!
This weeks #FactFriday is looking into the great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) you can see these birds along the river Clyde and Kelvin where they overwinter along the coast.
These large birds live in freshwater and marine environments. They have a primitive appearance, looking almost reptillian. While their feathers may look black, they actually have a blue/green sheen. Their beak has a sharp hook on the end used for catching fish.
Cormorants are sociable birds and can be spotted in groups resting on rocks together. They have been reported to form colonies of up to 20,000 birds! They hunt in flocks where they will dive up to 10m in pursuit of fish.
Their average lifespan is 11-20 years and are 1 of only 2 species which have been trained by Japanese fisherman to help catch fish.
Cormorants are sometimes confused with shags. They can be differentiated, however, by the more prominent yellow around their face and bigger beak. Shags are also usually only found solitary along the coast while cormorants can be found on the coast or inland and usually stick in groups.
Tara from the Marine Conservation Society will be joining us to talk about their current campaigns and projects. Some of their current campaigns include protecting UK sharks, saving seagrass and say no to red rated fish.
The Marine Conservation Society is the UK’s leading charity for the protection of our seas, shores and wildlife. For over thirty years MCS has been the voice for the sea for all the fascinating creatures that live beneath the waves, for our breath-taking coastal environment, for all those who make a sustainable living from the sea and for everyone who simply enjoys visiting the beach and our glorious coastline.
! The zoom link for this event is posted in the facebook group. If you can’t access facebook, not a problem. Just shoot us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org for the zoom information!
This weeks #FactFriday is focusing on the European sturgeon, Acipenser sturio.
This fish species is classed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to overfishing, poaching, water pollution and destruction of their habitat.
The sturgeon is a large fish with an elongated body and flattened snout with recognisable plates along it’s body. They can grow up to 6 metres and weigh a whopping 400kg, part of their reason for decline is due to their long juvenile phase, they don’t reach sexual maturity until 20 years and can live for over 100 years.
They are found along most European coastlines, and being anadromous, migrate to inland rivers to breed. However, despite this being their distribution, there is only 1 freshwater river left in which they are known to spawn – the Garonne river basin in France.
They feed on molluscs and crustaceans and locate them using barbells on the front of their mouths
Interesting fact: sturgeons are the only species that have diamond shaped pupils!
Tune in tomorrow to hear Anthony from Butterfly Conservation Scotland give a talk on ‘Butterflies & how we can help them?’.
There will also be potential volunteering opportunities discussed in advance of the new butterfly recording season!! The zoom link for this event is posted in the facebook group. If you can’t access facebook, not a problem. Just shoot us a message at email@example.com for the zoom information!
See you then to hear some amazing facts about butterflies!
This week, for #FactFriday we are looking at the Eurasian curlew (Numenius arquata) !
This bird is Europe’s largest wader and is instantly recognizable by it’s mottled brown upperparts, long legs and a long, downcurved bill. It’s also known as the “whaup” in Scots.
The diet of the Eurasian curlew consists of worms, shellfish and other invertebrates. In the summer they can most commonly be found in upland moors, bogs and wet grassland.
They have high site fidelity, meaning curlew pairs will return to the same area to breed every year. At the end of their breeding season they then head towards the coast and large estuaries where they overwinter.
The UK population of this wader accounts for over one quarter of the global breeding population. However the UK has seen declines of 65% in our national population since the 1970’s and it is now classified as near threatened. Low productivity (chicks don’t hatch/ survive to fledge) is thought to be main cause of UK decline which has been attributed to predation and a reduction in quality of breeding habitat. For this reason the Eurasian curlew is now widely acknowledged to be the UK’s highest bird conservation priority.
They have THE best call of all the waders- definitely worth a listen on YouTube!