Bittern Numbers Booming In The UK

The Common Bittern, Botaurus stellaris, a shy, secretive relative of the heron, was once extinct in the UK, however the bird has made a massive comeback over the years. Bittern numbers are now at their highest recorded numbers in the UK.

The bittern lives mostly in reed beds and is rarely seen due to the superbly camouflaged streaked plumage, which blends perfectly with the environment. However, the male’s booming call can be used to identify the presence of bitterns, and so researchers have been able to count these birds.

This year, the breeding population has been at it’s highest since the 1800s, with 140 singing males seen, compared to 11 in 1997. Somerset has the largest bittern population, with 20 males located at Ham Wall nature reserve,

According to the RSPB, one factor contributing to UK population increase in bitterns is due to restoration of quarries, which has helped bitterns to thrive. The bittern is still on the RSPB’s red list, but the development of these restored quarries is expected to increase the UK’S bittern population in the future.

Image credit: Helen Briggs

Restoration of Native Flora Encourages Bird and Insect Pollinators

Scientists investigating the effect of exotic plant species on native plant biodiversity on the island of Mahe in the Seychelles have found that ecosystem restoration by removal of exotic plant species is linked to an increase number of pollinating species such as bees, butterflies and birds and an increase in flowering of native flora.

Eight study sites on Mahe’s mountains were monitored for a period of eight months, with non-native plant species being removed from four sites. Native plant species were found to be flowering more frequently and attracting more pollinators. An increase in the number of pollinator species was also observed 6-12 months after the removal of exotic species, including bees, wasps, flies, beetles, moths, birds and lizards.

The research from Mahe mountaintops gives us a clear demonstration of the role of ecosystem restoration in pollination and interaction between plants and animals, and that ecosystem degradation is, at least partially, a reversible process.

Picture credit: C. KAISER-BUNBURY

Emerging and Novel Inshore Fisheries: Research and Management

Date: May 17th 2016

Location: Bournemouth University, Lansdowne Campus, EB303 – Executive Business Centre

Time: 9.00 – 17.00

The increasing presence of non-native marine organisms is usually perceived as a threat to biosecurity and the conservation and protection of native species and habitats. With rising temperatures, and ever-widening global trade and communications, the frequency of introductions and establishment is unlikely to decline. The control of invasive species in open marine systems poses considerable challenges. Yet for a few species, such as Manila clams and Pacific oysters, fisheries might both contribute to management solutions and benefit the economy of coastal regions. Wild capture fisheries can also cause severe disturbances to marine ecosystems. Therefore if fisheries are to be supported in this management role, operations must be carefully considered and evaluated.

The aim of this seminar is to bring together agencies, academics and representatives of the fishing and aquaculture industry to consider three main questions

  1. What can we learn from the history of invasion of marine non-native species of economic value?
  2. What are the threats and opportunities from the ‘invasion’ of potentially valuable marine non-native species?
  3. How can we mitigate potential ecological damage through sustainable harvesting?

Full programme information will be updated shortly