Buzzkill: Arabica coffee plantations under increasing threat from the effects of climate change

Note that this content is from an article I wrote as part of my BSc degree in 2014. The latest reports indicate that coffee production and consumption have both increased since the slump of 2013 - 2016, while prices have shown a downward trend. Despite this, I think that the article remains relevant especially concerning … Continue reading Buzzkill: Arabica coffee plantations under increasing threat from the effects of climate change

“All About Ants”: A talk to the Selborne Society

Inspired by Gilbert White (naturalist, ornithologist and author of The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne) the Selborne Society was formed in 1885 as Britain’s first national conservation organisation. Members of the Society went on to establish pre-eminiment organisations such as the National Trust and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Today, the Society … Continue reading “All About Ants”: A talk to the Selborne Society

From Thorn to Orchid

Last Summer I got to revisit an old haunt in South London where I used to volunteer with the London Wildlife Trust. I was very excited about returning to Hutchinson's Bank Nature Reserve (it is in the suburb of New Addington and easily reached by tram from Croydon). I left the restoration project when I … Continue reading From Thorn to Orchid

The Walking (Un)Dead: Zombie ants and the strange effects of parasitic fungi on ant behaviour​.

In the understorey of a tropical forest, a carpenter ant, of the species Camponotus leonardi, has descended from the canopy away from her regular foraging trails and staggers drunkenly along a branch. Her movements are jerky and conspicuous. She twitchily moves forwards and suddenly starts convulsing with such ferocity that she falls from the branch … Continue reading The Walking (Un)Dead: Zombie ants and the strange effects of parasitic fungi on ant behaviour​.

Marshland meander: A visit to RSPB Rainham Marshes

I have been a card-carrying member of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds for about 15 years. In that time I have seen some great successes and a variety of challenges faced by the society. The RSPB is the largest nature conservation charity in the UK (with over 1 million members) and also the oldest. … Continue reading Marshland meander: A visit to RSPB Rainham Marshes

Faking it as a survival strategy

Cheats and Deceits: How animals and plants exploit and mislead. By Martin Stevens. Published by Oxford University Press (2016). Last year, on a trip to Devon, I saw my first ever oil beetle (Meloe proscarabaeus). She was beautiful. Her black carapace glistened violet and blue in the sunlight. She was gravid and crawling along the footpath in search of a place to … Continue reading Faking it as a survival strategy

Getting down and dirty with the Earthworm Society of Britain

I attended the Earthworm Society of Britain's annual general meeting at Cannock Chase Forest where I got to meet fantastic amateur enthusiasts, very knowledgable naturalists with a general interest in worms, and some hardcore earthworm specialists. It was an immensely enjoyable couple of days of field recording in various habitats found here including broadleaved woodland, grassland and heath … Continue reading Getting down and dirty with the Earthworm Society of Britain

What is the cause of the Zika outbreak in the Americas?

I recently read an article by Claire Bernish1 that said that the release of GM mosquitoes was the cause of the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil - this immediately set alarm bells ringing. As it turns out, any real evidence to support these claims was lacking and Christie Wilcox, writing for Discover magazine,2 has done a fantastic job in … Continue reading What is the cause of the Zika outbreak in the Americas?

Genetically modified insects and the precautionary principle

Last week the Guardian newspaper reported on the findings from the UK House of Lords' science and technology committee into the development and use of GM insects. According to the committee's chairman, Lord Selborne: "GM insect technologies have the potential not only to save countless lives worldwide, but also to generate significant economic benefits for UK plc, where … Continue reading Genetically modified insects and the precautionary principle

The Great Pottery Throw Down

The title of this blogpost is taken from the latest BBC television series that has just finished screening in the UK. The premise for this series is based on the model developed for the hugely successful The Great British Bake Off, in which contestants compete against each other day-after-day to produce a variety of baked goods that are then judged … Continue reading The Great Pottery Throw Down