Next up for our SAMARCH student blog posts we have Justin Schoon:
“I was privileged enough to be able to assist the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) again this year, this time for the annual smolt run. It was thoroughly enjoyable working with the staff I worked with the previous summer again as well a couple of staff I didn’t get the chance to work with. I started off working on days with Luke and then shortly moved over to night shifts with Will, both of whom know so much about what they do and are never short of a story to tell. The rest of my time was spent doing nights with Rasmus, who I learnt so much from and got advice from for the future. This was really important to me as I hope to go into fish conservation in the future. Overall, a hugely enjoyable experience once again, and I would like to thank the GWCT and SAMARCH for handing me the opportunity. I hope to be back again for the parr tagging in the summer.”
“Being able to take part in SAMARCH project was a great experience. Smolt trapping with the GWCT helped me to understand the need of conservation of salmon. It also gave me the knowledge about tagging. I have enjoyed my placement and hope to take part again.”
Earlier this year, students from Bournemouth University took part in their SAMARCH placement. We have some great blogs to share. First up, here is David Kamerman’s blog:
“This spring I participated in 10 days of SAMARCH smolt run monitoring. This is my second time working on the SAMARCH project and was an interesting change compared to the parr tagging I helped with during the summer of last year. I appreciated the opportunity to learn how to use relative equipment, such as the rotary screw trap, and learning about the unique position the lab is in for monitoring, given its access to the Frome. I learnt a lot about salmonid behaviour and the anatomy changes trout and salmon go through during smoltification. I’m glad to have had one-on-one time with the researchers, who were always very friendly, professional, and informative. I also enjoyed the countryside surrounding the lab and am grateful to have had some time to explore the area further in my free time. Overall, this is a wonderful project and I hope the international cooperation that makes it possible can continue in the future”
SAMARCH featured at the first ever Science Festival in Weymouth (Dorset, UK)! Genoveva Esteban and Katie Thompson from Bournemouth University ran an interactive activity on the life cycle of the Atlantic Salmon at the spectacular location: The Nothe Fort. They were delighted with the turnout and look forward to more face-to-face events to showcase SAMARCH. If you have any questions, please email Genoveva on email@example.com or Katie on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Go to SAMARCH website for more details on the EU Interreg project!
Across the world, natural ecosystems are becoming increasingly degraded and fragmented. As a consequence, preservation of remaining intact habitats is likely to be insufficient for many species. Instead, the United Nations has identified restoring wild places as a global priority in its upcoming decade on ecosystem restoration.
In response to this, former Bournemouth Life and Environmental Sciences alumnus, Lindsay Biermann, has helped found the Little Environmental Action Foundation (LEAF for short) alongside thirteen fellow young conservationists. LEAF’s mission is to restore some of the most threatened ecosystems across the tropics, whilst using research-driven approaches and 100% native species.
LEAF’s first project is focused on cultivating and planting indigenous trees in coastal Kenya. Situated in the East African Coastal Forest Biodiversity hotspot, this project aims to save the region’s endemic trees that are all predicted to go extinct by 2050 without intervening action. LEAF is working in partnership with Pwani University to recover seeds, grow seedlings and plant out these threatened endemic species around fragments of ancient forest sites called relics. These relics are incredibly important to the future of this region, as currently 96% of native trees have been lost to monoculture plantations and farming.
Using research and expertise, LEAF has begun by employing local graduates and implementing ex situ conservation on the university grounds. From here, we plan to expand our efforts to plant trees close to pre-existing relict sites, educate local people on how to protect these forests and show why their ecosystem services are invaluable. By focusing on native tree species, we aim to increase the survival rates of planted trees and also the long-term recovery of these forests. Collaborative research with university students is also helping to maximise survival rates by studying salt and drought tolerance, as well as optimal planting times.
LEAF is set to officially launch in National Tree week running from 28th November to 6th December. As part of the launch, LEAF is aiming to raise funds to build a new seedling nursery that can propagate and grow rare and endangered tree species. From these donations, LEAF hope to transform the nursery to provide sufficient capacity for future forest restoration projects.
The LEAF charity is remains in its infancy but has ambitious plans to expand its restoration work into ten countries by 2030. Potential projects in Rwanda and India have already been identified, whilst a UK-based school outreach programme is being developed. If you would like to learn more about LEAF’s work, visit their website – www.theleafcharity.com – or follow them on social media @wearetheleaf.
Bacteria and Archaea, collectively known as prokaryotes, are the oldest forms of life on the planet, they’ve been around for over 3500 million years and are ubiquitous, meaning they are found all across the earth in every environment, some of which are adapted to living in extreme environments such as hot springs, hydrothermal vents and glacial environments.
Although some bacteria cause a variety of diseases in plants and animals, including humans, bacteria and archaea are key for a variety of environmental processes, including aquatic photosynthesis by cyanobacteria and nutrient cycling in terrestrial and aquatic environments. As well as this, some prokaryotes form key partnerships with animals and plants, such as nitrogen fixing species in plant roots and gut bacteria which help break down food.
For these reasons, studying bacteria and archaea is particularly important, to understand their use in medicine and combatting disease, their role in the environment and potential to buffer habitat against environmental change, and their importance in biotechnology. Bacteria and archaea are notoriously difficult to study in the lab, as their tiny size and immense diversity in metabolism and optimal requirements make it difficult to culture them. As a result of this, researchers have turned to genome sequencing as a way of studying these organisms.
Collaboration between researchers across the world has led to the ‘Genomes from the Earth’s Microbiomes (GEM) catalogue’, a database which contains over 52, 000 draft genomes, encompassing a large spread of samples collected from all across the world, including agricultural and natural soils, oceanic and freshwater samples, and sample collected from associated human/animal hosts and symbiotes.
The GEM catalogue has been possible despite the difficulty of bacterial culturing due to a revolutionary technique known as metagenomics. Essentially, organisms leave traces of DNA in their environment, such as lakes, soils, etc., which can be picked up in sampling, meaning that growing the species in the lab is not required to study it’s molecular biology. Through this, samples are sequenced and the DNA of various organisms can be detected, which also gives an idea of the biodiversity of the habitat.
The development of the GEM catalogue has provided researchers with an invaluable resource for studying bacteria, from their ecology, molecular genetics to help tackle disease and understand more about their place in the environment. The database has also shown that these microbes are far more diverse and numerous then we once thought, providing a wealth of information for researchers .
A new species of carnivorous dinosaur has been discovered from fossilised remains found by members of the public at Shanklin, Isle of Wight last year. The four bones were examined by researchers at the University of Southampton who believe they belong to a new species of theropod dinosaur (a group of carnivorous which also include modern birds and their famous Tyrannosaurus rex).
The dinosaur has been named Vectaerovenator inopinatus which means ‘unexpected air-filled hunter’. The name refers to the curious air-filled sacs in many of the bones of the creature, in the neck, back and tail. Indeed, these structures are also found in many other theropod dinosaurs, helping scientists to identify it.
These air sacs, which act as extensions of the lungs, are also found in modern birds, which not only make the skeletons much lighter, but also ensure much more efficient breathing.
Living around 115 million years ago during the cretaceous period, Vectaerovenator was around 4 metres long, a relatively small size for Dinosaurs of this group, and although likely it would not have been the top predator, it would certainly have been an efficient carnivore, probably feeding on reptiles and small, herbivorous dinosaurs such as Hypsilophodon which was a common species at the time.
This exciting find is another example of how our understanding of prehistoric biodiversity is constantly changing with the discovery of many new prehistoric species.
Here are the answers for the our ‘World Ocean Day 2020’ colouring sheet:
The figure has been adapted from:
Kryvi, H., Rusten, I., Fjelldal, P.G., Nordvik, K., Totland, G.K., Karlsen, T., Wiig, H. and Long Jr, J.H., 2017. The notochord in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) undergoes profound morphological and mechanical changes during development. Journal of anatomy, 231(5), pp.639-654.
A fossil recently discovered on the Isle of Wight has been revealed as a first of its kind to be found in the UK. The fossil belonged to an ancient flying reptile which would have soared through the skies of southern England 100 million years ago.
The fossilised jaw fragment was found by an amateur fossil hunter on Sandown beach, Isle of Wight. The delicate fossil was identified as a tapejarid (a type of medium-sized crested pterosaur) by scientists at the university of Portsmouth, recognisable by the characteristic shape of the jaw and minute holes in the jaw, which experts think were used to detect prey. The fossil has been donated to the IoW dinosaur museum for future display.
So, what did this animal look like? These pterosaurs were small to medium sized and lived around 100 million years ago, during the cretaceous period. With more curved wings than other species, they are well known for the large bony crests on their heads. It is very likely that these crests would have been highly colourful in real life, almost twice the size of the skull, and probably used to communicate and attract partners, much like many bird species such as pheasants and birds of paradise. There has been much debate concerning the diet of these animals, but it is thought that they fed on plant material, especially considering that flowering plants were diversifying around the time these creatures appeared.
The fossil is a key finding for our understanding of these creatures; before the discovery of this specimen, the tapejarids were only known from Brazil, Morocco and China, and this find not only demonstrates a very wide distribution of these pterosaurs, but also showcases the diversity of mesozoic species on the island and surrounding area.
PhD student at Bournemouth University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Life and Environmental Sciences
particles 1 µm-5 mm, are a relatively recent global stressor instigated
by rapid human population growth and a consequent reliance on plastics.
Particles originate from cosmetic products
and the gradual breakdown of larger plastics and eventually reach water
courses through surface runoff, wind dispersal and waste outflows.
Microplastics are known to impact a range of aquatic organisms,
impairing feeding, physiological and reproductive functions,
with potentially detrimental consequences for biodiversity and
conservation. Whilst many plastics pass through freshwaters, and then
pass on to marine systems, the dynamics and consequences of freshwater
microplastic are currently poorly understood.
funded project will therefore address existing knowledge gaps by
quantifying the impacts of microplastics on focal freshwater fish and
invertebrate taxa. Using novel field research (year 1)
and laboratory experiments (years 2-3), I will investigate the
individual and community impacts of microplastics on fish, including
their disruptions to host-parasite systems.