Welcome to the Wessex Portal, an online community created by the Faculty of Science & Technology at Bournemouth University in order to promote a better understanding of our regional and international environment. Meet the team: Professor Genoveva Esteban is the Principal Investigator in this project. Dr Esteban’s research focuses on biodiversity at the microbial level. […]
We are excited to announce that on Sunday 17th March 2019 we will be hosting the first Family Science Festival in Dorchester. We have invited scientists to bring a range of interactive activities. Bring along all the family and check out the pop-up museum, handle bugs, observe living microbes, augment your reality, identify fossils, and […]
BU2025: A new vision Bournemouth University 2025 (BU2025) vision has been released. BU2025 is the next step in BU’s development, building on our success. We have retained the core of what makes BU different, and the culture and approach that our students and staff value. Our values Excellence We strive for excellence in everything that we do. Inclusivity […]
On Sunday 17th March, academics and students (both undergraduate and postgraduate) took part in Dorchester’s family science festival, inviting members of the public to learn about all aspects of science and research in the department for life and environmental sciences, from African elephant conservation to microbes living in the local environment. Many other local organisations also came along to take part, including Biotrack, the Jurassic Coast Trust, the Institute of Physics and many more.
Bournemouth University staff and students were involved in several different activities:
The world of microbes – Prof. Genoveva Esteban (professor of microbial aquatic ecology), Dr Daniel Franklin (lecturer in microbial ecology and biological oceanography) and Hai Luu (PhD student) – visitors were able to observe a variety of live single celled microbes using microscopes, and learn about the importance of these tiny organisms in the natural environment.
Fish conservation and the Samarch project – Ossi Turunen (Undergraduate student) and Oskari Heimonen (Undergraduate student) – visitors were able to colour in their own salmon, and learn to tell the age of a fish using their bones! Oskari and Ossi are both heavily affiliated with the Samarch project and visitors could learn more about the project too.
Insects to elephants: African biodiversity and wildlife conservation – Katie Thompson (Research associate and PhD student) and Jack Dazley (Research assistant and MRes student) – visitors were able to look at preserved insect specimens and learn about their diversity, and also play a game matching 10 African insect species to their habitat. Also Katie and Jack showed people how elephant populations have declined, what threats they face and how conservation biologists are tackling these problems, with a map of African elephant distribution in the past vs today.
The event was a huge success and attracted many visitors of all ages from the local area, engaging them with research and hopefully inspiring new young scientists! We are very thankful to everybody who came on the day!
For more information please contact Genoveva Esteban (email@example.com), Jack Dazley (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Katie Thompson (email@example.com)
Hengistbury Head are delighted to present their 2019 BioBlitz event, the Great Wildlife Exploration.
Bioblitz 2019 event will be held in King’s Park, Bournemouth (BH7 7AF). It is an amazing opportunity for you to discover and connect with the wildlife right on your doorstep and unleash your inner scientist!
For the last 4 years we have held the Great Wildlife Exploration event at Hengistbury Head Local Nature Reserve, and it has given us a wonderful insight into the species we have on the reserve. However, we felt that it was time for a change, and that another green space deserved its time to shine!
King’s Park has a variety of habitats that have yet to be surveyed for wildlife. As a huge park in the Bournemouth area, the King’s Park Great Wildlife Exploration will give members of the public and experts alike a better understanding of local nature and increased familiarity with resident species.
Work alongside experts
Blitzers will work alongside experts within a 24-hour period (10am, 25th May to 10am, 26th May) to identify and record as many varied species of wildlife as can be found.
The Saturday will host the majority of our activities: join wildlife experts on fantastic guided walks; from moths to mammals, there will be something for everyone!
There will also be stalls hosted by a range of participating organisations with fun family activities on throughout the day.
This is a chance to explore your local park and search for wildlife using real scientific techniques.
We will also be running interactive workshops and craft tables.
You can ask the experts questions, create your own environment-themed masterpieces and spend some quality time out in nature.
Start the day with wildlife! Join us for a special 6am dawn chorus bird walk.
PhD student at Bournemouth University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Life and Environmental Sciences
Omo-Turkana basin (Kenya/ Ethiopia) is a key reference region for human
evolutionary studies, and provides a detailed record of vertebrate evolutionary
patterns. Several aspects of hominins’ ecology and habitats can be investigated
using fossils preserved here, as well as global climate and regional
environmental processes that drove our evolution.
My research projectaims at reconstructing prevailing vegetation conditions through time in the Omo-Turkana basin between 3.5 and 1.6 million years ago, by examining the dietary evidence of the fossil impala (genus Aepyceros) and springbok (genus Antidorcas), through stable isotopes, mesowear and microwear evidence. Changes in the diets of the studied species are expected to be informative about larger-scale habitat and vegetation changes, due to the high dietary adaptability of these abundant mixed-feeding antelopes. A key part of this project will also be to assess the links between modern antelope diets and vegetation cover of the present landscapes, which will be quantified via remote sensing techniques
PhD student at Bournemouth University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Life and Environmental Sciences
My project is researching human disturbance and its effects on wildlife populations. The majority of my study is concentrated on migratory wintering waterfowl, brent geese (Branta bernicla) and wigeon (Anas penelope), on the Exe Estuary in Devon and their responses to various human related activities that take place on the Estuary. The aim is to identify how different types of human disturbance effect these waterfowl and whether human disturbance in general is affecting waterfowl survival. This research is being conducted through the combination of field observations of disturbance events and through the use of individual based modeling. With the combination of these factors the hope is to be able to identify thresholds for human disturbance that waterfowl are capable of experiencing before there is a population level effect. Results from this can then help to inform management as well as provide insight into understanding the effects of human disturbance on other animals.
MRes student at Bournemouth University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Life and Environmental Sciences
Jack Dazley is a Masters
research student whose work is primarily focused on the feeding behaviour and biodiversity
of ciliated protozoa; tiny single celled organisms less than a millimetre in
size which can be found in a variety of habitats. His research aims to
understand the mechanisms of prey selection by these organisms, with particular
emphasis on diatoms; microscopic plants with a glass-like shell. Ciliates form
a fundamental part of the microzooplankton in aquatic environments, providing
food for larger zooplankton species (mesozooplankton) such as rotifers and copepods,
and Jack’s research will incorporate microbial diversity into higher trophic
level food webs of aquatic ecosystems.
Jack also has wider interests in biodiversity and conservation of both
terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, from megafauna to microbial species,
and also in the paleoecology of extinct species and their ecosystems.
Jack is heavily involved in public engagement in the faculty, having
delivered guest lectures at BU, and has run stalls for several of BU’s
public engagement events, including the festival of learning and the
Bournemouth air festival.
‘Sustainable’ fishing is causing major environmental problems according to new research published by Bournemouth University.
While fishing to sustainable targets as aspired to by the UK, EU and many other countries, prevents year on year decline of fish stocks, it still requires ecological devastation in terms of fish numbers (a removal of up to 80% of the initial level) to reach a population capable of producing maximum sustainable yield.
Changes caused to the ecology of the ocean from ‘sustainable’ fishing can have far reaching effects, including limiting the potential for the ocean to absorb greenhouse gasses. Hence, poor fishing practices can exacerbate climate change.
The research, published in the journal Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene, also provides a solution to the problem of overfishing.
Professor Rick Stafford, from the Department of Life and Environmental Sciences at Bournemouth University, says, “The key is to restrict offshore fishing. Generally, offshore fishing uses bigger boats, which can cause more environmental damage with their fishing techniques. Reducing, and maybe eventually eliminating, these boats will create big marine protected areas in the offshore Economic Exclusion Zones of countries and the high seas and allow fish stocks to grow again.”
The focus of fishing then falls on smaller-scale inshore (or artisanal) fishers, which often use less environmentally harmful techniques. They will also benefit from enhanced fish stocks as they ‘spill over’ from the protected offshore areas. While fewer fish would be caught overall, the local supply to coastal communities may increase. This would benefit many people who rely on fish, from struggling coastal economies in the UK through to ensuring protein from fish is readily available to these communities in the developing world.
Such a transition could be timely for the UK in post-Brexit negotiations, and especially beneficial for smaller fishing ports. However, there is a problem, which is the British palate.
Professor Stafford explains, “We don’t eat the fish we catch in the UK, and mainly rely on exports to France and Spain – for the maximum benefit of this approach, we need to change our tastes and eat more shellfish and flatfish. It’s a change which would hugely help the marine environment and coastal jobs and economy.”
The researchers also highlighted the need for more to be done to highlight the problem of over-fishing compared to, say, plastics in the ocean. The latter often gets more media coverage, but actually has less of an impact on the environment when compared to over-fishing.
Rick Stafford continued, “We all know the problems caused by ocean plastic on wildlife and the mess made to our coasts and beaches. To address the issue, many of us carry around refillable water bottles, coffee cups, try to avoid over packaged food, and may even participate in beach cleans, and these are important issues – but not necessarily the most immediate concerns when it comes to climate change and our oceans.”
In a new article in the journal Marine Policy, Rick and colleagues from University College London argue that this is environmental greenwashing, encouraged by large corporations and many governments, but ultimately distracting us from addressing the major environmental issues of climate change and biodiversity loss.
The actual environmental implications of plastic pollution are unknown, but many studies show little direct toxicity effect, and while plastic has been shown to result in death of seabirds, whales, fish and seals, there is little data on the population level effects of plastic on wildlife. This contrasts with the urgent need to address climate change and reduce biodiversity loss, which have been well established in recent international scientific reports.
Professor Stafford concluded, “In terms of reducing plastic pollution, there’s a huge emphasis on individual choices, such as refusing reusable coffee cups or plastic straws. There’s also a range of technological solutions, from the Ocean Cleanup project which is trying to ‘sieve’ plastic from the ocean directly, through to new plant-based plastic alternatives.
“These individual choices and technological ‘fixes’ are simply minor tweaks to a political and economic system which needs a major overhaul, and allow ‘business as usual’ to continue.
“We need to place environmental issues at the heart of our political and economic systems, and address overconsumption and overuse of natural resources as our number one priority – including over-fishing. Unless we do this, we can’t save the planet from plastics, biodiversity loss or climate change.”
Professor Amanda Korstjens is a behavioural ecologist, who studies animals in their natural environments. Her work has taken her around the world to places such as Indonesia, Côte d’Ivoire, Costa Rica and Uganda.
In her inaugural lecture, which took place at Bournemouth Natural Science Society (BNSS), she explored how monkey and ape behaviours are shaped by their environment. She also explained how human modifications to natural environments and climate change are affecting monkeys and apes globally, drawing on her research expertise and work in locations across the world.
Hunter N. Hines posts photos and footage of the organisms he studies during his PhD research under his microscope, including single-celled organisms like ciliates and micro-animals like worms and tardigrades (known as water bears).
Hunter said: “The videos and photos on my Instagram show these awesome creatures in their natural state as they are behave and move, rather than just drawings from a textbook.”
Hunter is currently studying for his PhD at Bournemouth University, conducting research in Florida on single-celled organisms called ciliates, looking at their biodiversity and biogeography in freshwater ecosystems.
Alongside ciliates, his Instagram account @microbialecology shows microscopic creatures including worms, larvae and micro crustaceans doing everything from laying eggs to eating each other.
At one point the account received over 1.4 million views in a single week.
Hunter said: “These are organisms at the foundation of foodwebs and important for ecosystem health. I collect them from freshwater habitats, such as ponds, in Florida, and some are from soil.
“For many viewers this is the first time they are seeing these creatures from the micro world as living things.
“I hope that my posts can reach a global audience, and show microbiology in a positive light, while inspiring interest in science to anyone with internet access.”