Wednesday, 29 September 2010
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/sep/29/plant-species-face-extinction ). It is also predicted that 1 in 5 plants face extinction and that will accelerate the rate of animal extinctions. Talking of extinctions, I retire from University on 30th September. I will continue to exist in the Blogosphere!
Tuesday, 28 September 2010
Two days from retirement and I have just returned from the annual Swansea field course that takes in locations reached from the Island of Portland (with Chesil Beach). Saw Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) on Chesil Bank. At Abbotsbury Swannery got to hold a Mute swan (Cygnus olor) for the last time. Radipole RSPB reserve had massed cormorant on the little island. At Broadcroft Butterfly Quarry got a nice shot of a basking Speckled wood (Pararge aegeria) and found a Slow worm (Anguis fragilis). In addition to the primates, there were masses of fungi at Monkey World including Fly agaric (Amantia muscaria) and Boletus edulis (guess which one should eat!). Brownsea Island was special with Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) and Redshank (Tringa totanus) in the lagoon with a massed flight of Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia), Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta) and other species above it. There were also Leccinium scabrum fungi there and a good show by the Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris).
Saturday, 18 September 2010
The report of a Pembrokeshire swan (nicknamed by the press 'Hannibal') being 'hyperaggressive' and attacking (and sometimes killing) other birds raises a number of questions (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-west-wales-11331964 ). Some of the commentators have even speculated that there must be some contamination in the water to 'cause' this 'abnormal' behaviour. Mute swans (Cygnus olor) are often highly territorial and intolerant of other waterbirds (especially their own species). A Google search will confirm that such behaviour is frequently recorded (see 'the ASBO swan and 'Hissing Sid'). Even atypically maintained swans such as those at Abbotsbury in Dorset are not free of 'swanecidal' behaviour. Territoriality is used by many species as a means of getting access to limited resources (in this case the grass and pondweed around a nesting site in order to breed successfully and to rear offspring. The species clearly shows variability in this characteristic which is actually highly beneficial to the individual, its mate and its progeny. It is humans that object to the bird doing these actions (it's not 'nice' for a 'peaceful' bird to behave this way).
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
Tuesday, 7 September 2010
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11199779). It is certainly true that the eusocial lifestyles of certain bees, ants and wasps results in members of the hive or colony being genetically very similar but I suspect that changes in agricultural and horticultural practices (or even climate?) play much bigger roles here. In the case of zoo animals there was a marked tendency to blame inbreeding for failures to reproduce endangered captive species. The claim is often made in the absence of having a clear measure of genetic variance (other than using often dubious 'geneological charts') but without being able to specify a reason (e.g. diet, social structure etc). I suspect that something similar is going on here.
- September 07, 2010
Saturday, 4 September 2010
- September 04, 2010
Wednesday, 1 September 2010
- September 01, 2010
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