We are very excited to bring to you our first weekly OUNCS newsletter! As we won’t be able to host talks this term, we have created a newsletter to keep you up do date with conservation news. Our newsletter compiles a range of articles, talks, online events and book recommendations that we have personally picked. We have also included citizen science projects so you can get involved in conservation at home!
~ The OUNCS Committee
Article Spotlight: The importance of moth pollinators
While bees and other diurnal pollinators (bees in particular) have long been the focus of public attention and anxiety regarding pollination services, a paper recently published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters suggests that their nocturnal counterparts- moths- are also extremely important in the pollination of many plants, particularly in the families Rosaceae and Fabaceae, which, as well as containing many wild plants, also contain some important crop plants.
The study sampled moths from nine ponds close to agriculturally intensive arable fields in Norfolk, allowing pollen to be collected and the source plant species to be identified. The results suggest that previous attempts to gauge the importance of moths in pollination were likely underestimations as they found that most pollen carried by the sampled moths was carried on the thorax, contradicting previous expectations that most pollen would be carried on the proboscis. Pollen from 47 different species of insect-pollinated plants was found on the moths captured.
Overall, it is likely that among wild plants and even some crop species, nocturnal pollinators complement diurnal pollination and reinforce pollination networks. Therefore, it is essential that attitudes towards this group are changed and that their requirements are accounted for in future conservation and agricultural management plans.
You can find the article here.
Article Spotlights are brought to you by Ayla Webb
Online Talk: Bisons and their impacts
“The British Ecological Society” is broadcasting free talks on ecological research during the lockdown. This week’s talk was on bison impacts on plants and animals in a world-class prairie restoration and you can watch it here on YouTube. If you liked it then you can watch the talks live at 3pm every Thursday.
You can watch the live talks here.
Talk recommendations are brought to you by Philip Fernandes
Book Recommendation: Wilding by Isabella Tree
You may have heard that White Stork chicks have just hatched on the Knepp Estate, the first to do so in Britain for centuries, but how much do you know about the rewilding project that lead to this monumental feat?
Isabella Tree writes about her time converting the Knepp Estate from commercial farmland to mostly unmanaged habitats. Her book details all of the benefits that the project has brought to biodiversity as well as the challenges that Knepp faced from neighbours and politicians.
Book recommendations are brought to you by Hannah King
Habitat Conservation: Peatland festival
Worldwide, just 3% of land is represented by peatlands. Yet despite this, they are the largest terrestrial carbon store, sequestering over two times more carbon than forests. However, it is not just for their carbon storing that peatlands are remarkable: they provide a habitat for a wide diversity of wildlife and are also culturally and historically important, with the preservative capabilities of the acidic water in peatlands, and the discovery of ancient artefacts and burials, associating them with a sense of deep time and connection to the past.
In terms of biodiversity, peatlands range from the microorganisms which perform important chemical transformations such as denitrification, to the mosses which comprise the peat itself, the invertebrates living in those mosses and the surrounding water, and the migratory birds which enjoy the feast provided by the abundance of some of these insects – as well as much more!
Despite all this, 80% of UK peatlands are estimated to be in a damaged state. How can we develop a better relationship with peatlands? RE-PEAT is a youth organisation working to move the perception of peatlands as unproductive wasteland to one which fully encapsulates their ecological and cultural significance. They are hosting an online festival on the 31st May, which has an amazing programme of events bringing together scientists, artists, policy-makers, farmers and musicians from around the world for us all to connect to the extraordinary world of peatlands.
You can find a link to the event here.
Habitat conservation news and views are brought to you by Jamie Walker
Get Involved: Encouraging wildlife into your garden
With Lockdown having been in place for nearly 2 months now many of us, including myself, having taken up gardening to try and spend a bit more time outside especially with the nice weather we’ve been having recently. And gardens can be great places to encourage wildlife especially pollinators like bees and butterflies. Recently Bumblebee and Butterfly populations have been declining at increasing rates with Butterfly Conservation stating that nearly 80% of butterfly species are declining in either abundance or occurrence. UK Bee populations also show a similar pattern. But there’s loads of different things you can do in your own garden that can boost pollinator numbers in your area. Planting wild flowers in your garden can be really easy and look nice as well and these flowers can provide vital food sources for pollinators.
You can find more information about growing and planting wild flowers here.
There’s also many different citizen science projects you can get involved in to monitor pollinator populations although many have been put on hold at the moment due to current government advice regarding coronavirus however this may soon be changing. The UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme run by the CEH, gives people the chance to spend just 10 minutes doing FIT counts in your gardens or local areas and contribute to a major UK-wide study.
You can find out more here.
Citizen science projects are brought to you by Taras Bains