One of the research groups I am connected too – Projecting Responses of Ecological Diversity In Changing Terrestrial Systems (PREDICTS) has just come to the end of its first three years. To mark the occasion a one day symposium was held at the Natural History Museum with talks on overviews of what the project has achieved, the latest results, and a look ahead. I was invited to do a 15 minute talk on my PhD work researching human effects on soil biodiversity which use the PREDICTS framework. The Symposium was webcast live on YouTube and attended by many PREDICTS researchers past and present so I was rather anxious!
This Throwback Thursday is from my trip to Scotland with the Dipterists Forum in September 2013, a wonderful week in the highlands collecting flies which I wrote up as a guest post for the Natural History Museum Curator of Diptera’s Blog.
Between handing in my MSc thesis and my viva voce, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to join Dipterists from the Natural History Museum on a collection trip to Scotland as part of the Dipterists Forum Autumn Field Meeting. Despite the daunting prospect of a long journey and sharing a cottage with people I barely knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for an intensive week studying flies which was also my first trip across the border.
This week’s Throwback Thursday is about the cabbage white butterflies I had on my London balcony back in August 2013 while I was studying for my MSc. This also formed the basis of an article in the Amateur Entomologist’s Society Bug Club Magazine.
It is true you do not have to go far to see wildlife, even in the midst of a big city. Invertebrate scholars are particularly fortunate in this regard as insects, arachnids etc. really are everywhere, in your home and even on you. Here in my student room in Earls Court, London I have a little balcony which I have used to grow salad and tomatoes.
This week’s Throwback Thursday covers a course on hoverfly identification I attended in August 2013 as part of a qualification in Biological Recording and Species Identification.
I enjoy music, but until now had never been to a music festival, all those crowds of people, loud noise and camping was not something I thought I could cope with. However I was aware from talking to my colleagues at the University of Reading last year that festivals are not just about music, and often have stands and science activities run by universities and other institutions. This felt like something I would enjoy so I put it on my mental list of ‘things to do while studying for a PhD’. I was very excited to see a call from the Royal Society of Biology and British Ecological Society for volunteers to help run ecology themed activities and bioblitz (an event where you try to identify as many species as possible) at Latitude Festival in Suffolk.
I’ve been a bit lax with my blogging over the last few weeks as I have been busy writing and submitting my early stage assessment – a report of what I have done so far in my PhD and what I plan to do next. This will be followed up with a short viva from my panel – eek! So it was good to get a day out doing outreach at Imperial College Silwood Park a few days after submitting. Silwood Park is Imperial’s postgraduate campus near Ascot, Berkshire, with research and teaching in ecology, evolution, and conservation. One of my supervisors is based there, so I occasionally visit for meetings and eventually will be going there to extract and analyse microbial DNA from my soil samples.
Sometimes it is hard to think what to write on my blog posts, especially when I am supposed to be writing a 9 month report for my PhD! To help I have started a ‘Throwback Thursday’ looking back at some of the posts I made on my pre-Imperial College blog. This one was written in April 2013, when I was 6 months into MSc Taxonomy and Biodiversity at Imperial College London.
This week the Wildlife Gardening Forum held its conference ‘Soil Biodiversity in the Garden’ at the Natural History Museum in London. Being a keen gardener and researching soil biodiversity I had to go along.
The Wildlife Gardening Forum is a group of organisations and people who are passionate about wildlife in gardens and seek to help people value and enjoy wildlife in their gardens. While there has been quite a lot of interest in gardens as habitats for birds, mammals and pollinating insects, few consider the life below ground so this conference was a great way to raise the profile of soil organisms and discuss ideas.
Yesterday I attended my first ever hackathon, held at the Natural History Museum in London.
Last week I was pleased to have another day of fieldwork, this time in the New Forest National Park in south England. The New Forest includes one of the largest areas of pasture, heathland and forest in south east England and the site we visited is Whitley Wood, a oak-beech wood pasture woodland with grazing deer and ponies. The Natural History Museum Soil Biodiversity Group have been sampling at this site for soil and leaf litter invertebrates nearly every month since 2002.
A 100 meter transect line is laid at random in the forest and a sample is taken every seven meters.