Friday, 31 May 2019

Seeing the Changes 1345

Ragged robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi) was blooming in Bynea.

Are You a Mouse and a Man?

An American scientist has repeated a claim that I (and colleagues) made years ago, namely that focusing drug research exclusively on male animals probably does not capture the full potential range of effects and side-effects that might be expressed in human populations when the treatments become used medically (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/may/31/sexist-research-means-drugs-more-tailored-to-men-says-scientist). It is suggested that preliminary research (especially on proposed psychoactive drugs) should include both female and male animals. 

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Seeing the Changes 1344




More insect activity in Loughor with a hoverfly (Heliophilus pendulus) desperately seeking the sun and 2 beetles- Phyllobius pomaceus and Pyrochroa serraticornis busy on plants.

The Lionfish Roars!

News that Cyprus is starting a Lionfish cull in an attempt to prevent this invasive fish decimating the Mediterranean ecosystem (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/29/cyprus-begins-lionfish-cull-to-tackle-threat-to-mediterranean-ecosystem). This fish not only eats everything but is protected from predators by its poisonous spines (making it a problem, also, for tourism). There are various debates about how the fish's spread has been facilitated. They include a warming of the seas in their newly-invaded habitats but also include guesses that over-sized aquarium fish might have been released or that changes to the Suez canal to enable passage by bigger ships (without biosecurity measures) could be a key factor. One must note, however, that the larvae of many invasive marine species are transported in the ballast tanks of shipping.

Monday, 27 May 2019

Seeing the Changes 1343





In Penllergaer woods, Turkey tail fungus (Trametes versicolor) was in evidence. Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) and Brooklime (Veronica beccabunga) were in flower. There were mayflies over the water and Canada geese (Branta canadensis) shepherded their goslings.

Spit it Out!


There is a somewhat confusing account of the dangers raised by the frothy protective product of the nymphs of froghoppers and other insects (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/26/scientists-call-for-volunteers-to-help-pre-empt-deadly-plant-disease). The 'spit' is not an infective agent but is could culture the dangerous bacterium Xylella fastidiosa (and it clearly indicates that the plant's outer defences have been breached by the sap-sucking bug). The bacterium does not yet appear to have made its way to the UK but it has been shown to decimate more than 500 species of host plant. It would not be helpful for people to assume that every plant with 'cuckoo spit' is infected!

Rivers of Resistance?

It has been reported that many of the world's rivers contain 'dangerous' levels of antibiotics as they could act as culture vessels for the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/may/27/worlds-rivers-awash-with-dangerous-levels-of-antibiotics). These bacteria are the ones that survive exposure to the antibiotics and are already raising the possibility of our returning to a pre-antibiotic era where we have no effective treatments for even minor infections. The trouble is compounded by the tendency of bacteria (rapidly evolving organisms, because of their frequency of division) to pass on resistance to other species of bacteria by trading plasmids. Although over-prescription of these medical treatments is one contribution to the development of antibiotic -resistant bacteria (like MRSA), another well-established factor is the use of these agents to increase growth (and profits) in intensively farmed animals. It seems likely, to me, that most of the antibiotics recorded in the rivers results from untreated water leaving farms. 

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Friday, 24 May 2019

Seeing the Changes 1341






 
In Bynea, Cut-leaved cranesbill (Geranium dissectum) was much in evidence and the southern marsh orchids (Dactylorhiza praetermissa) were much more impressive nearer Penclacwydd. In that further location, web-nests of the Lackey moth (Malacosoma neustria); female and male Oedemera nobilis beetles active on the buttercups were spotted as well as a female Common blue damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) and a Southern hawker (Aeshna cyanea) in flight.

Age Discrepancy?

It doesn't bode well that, when the younger generation are protesting about climate change in record numbers (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/24/latest-global-school-climate-strikes-expected-to-beat-turnout-record), their 'elders and betters' in the UK and elsewhere are, reportedly voting in large numbers for 'strong leaders' who are often associated with climate change denial.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Special Delivery

For the first time in ages, a pair of White stork in an Oak tree in Sussex are reportedly sitting on 3 eggs (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/22/white-storks-could-become-first-to-breed-in-wild-in-uk-for-centuries). There might actually be a re-introduction of this flagship species.

Seeing the Changes 1340




In Loughor, the escaped Pencilled cranesbill (Geranium versicolor) was in bloom. In Bynea, stunted Southern marsh orchid (Dactylorhiza praetermissa) and Buckshorn plantain (Plantago coronopus) were flowering. A silica-encrusted Great mullein (Verbascum thapsus) was being destroyed by Mullein moth (Cuculia verbasci) larvae.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Mum's the Word?

A study showing that dominant Bonobo mothers give their sons a 'leg up' by facilitating their matings (perhaps it should be called a 'leg over?) makes good evolutionary sense (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/may/20/pushy-bonobo-mothers-help-sons-find-sexual-partners-scientists-find). The mothers reportedly usher their boys into locations where fertile females are found and even attack other males who attempt to join in the activity. She, of course, shares 50% of her genes with her son and every fertilisation passes on 25% of these genes.

Sorting the Sheep from the Goats?

Environmentalists have suggested that 'rewilding' 25% of the UK's land would be an effective way of countering some of the worst consequences of the climate crisis that we find ourselves in (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/21/rewild-quarter-uk-fight-climate-crisis-campaigners-urge). This is not quite as easy as it sounds as:- 
1) We would have to seriously curtail the presence of domestic and wild grazing animals (notably, sheep, goats and deer) from areas where forests could develop again, possibly also introducing natural predators to keep these herbivores in check; 
2) Many of the selected areas are likely to be currently used for farming which would have consequences for the food supply of our over-populated islands;
3) The wild places would have to be inter-connected to be maximally effective, which might well involve removing some housing and roads and this would involve much compensation (along with that due to farmers); 
4) There would probably be a need to regulate access to any rewilded areas (disturbance by humans and potential endangerment of folk would be issues) and this might well involve 'policing' of the boundaries; 
5) One might have to consider a range of types of rewilded locations (perhaps with some that facilitate access by people for leisure and/or sport) which is likely to result in many issues 
and 6) We would really also have to do something meaningful about rewilding the seas around our shores! 
This one could run and run (as they say)! 

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Woods for the Trees or Trees for the Woods?

It is somewhat encouraging that grants are reportedly to be made available for planting and 3 years of care for an estimated 130,000 trees around English towns and cities (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/19/130000-trees-planted-england-english-cities-global-heating). This is apparently an attempt to mitigate against global warming but the species used, their locations and the longer term issues surrounding the develop all seem a bit vague. Some trees are clearly better than others for such developments.

Seeing the Changes 1338

Spotted a Gastrophysa viridula beetle on vegetation in Loughor.

Fuming

It has finally been admitted that toxic fumes from transport may damage every organ in the human body (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2019/may/17/air-pollution-may-be-damaging-every-organ-and-cell-in-the-body-finds-global-review). It is consequently even more worrying that reports on 'hot-spots' in London were apparently suppressed (especially when many of them were close to schools) and that it is only now that people are talking about fixing a time for the replacement of polluting modes of transport. One might almost think that politicians have been in hock to the car lobby.

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Seeing the Changes 1337


More developments with Hemlock water dropwort (Oenanthe crocata) and Bramble (Rubus fruticosus) in bloom in Bynea. Lots of Black knapweed (Centaurea nigra) was flowering in Jersey Marine. The nymphs of the Common froghopper (Philaenus spumarius) were spluttering in Bynea.

Friday, 17 May 2019

Seeing the Changes 1336


Laburnum (Laburnum anagyroides)was in blomm, in Loughor. Also visited by a Plume moth (Agdistis bennetii).

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Seeing the Changes 1335

In Bynea, Elder (Sambucus nigra) was in flower.

Seeing the Changes 1334


Must be the worst May 'catch' in my Loughor moth trap! Two micro-moths and 3 Maybugs!

Monday, 13 May 2019

Seeing the Changes 1333







More action in Loughor. Common comfrey (Symphytum officinale) and Pineapple mayweed (Chamomilla suaveolens) in bloom. A Peacock butterfly (Inachis io) basked whilst sex-crazed Orange tip (Anthocharis cardamines) males chased the females.

I Don't Like Cricket?

The 'Grubsup' message seems to making progress with news that the London-based Abokado food chain is due to offer roast cricket as a menu food item (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/13/grubs-up-roasted-crickets-to-go-on-sale-at-london-food-chain). Insects have been advocated as a more environmentally-acceptable way of getting animal protein than meat from mammals and birds. I really can't see much difference between such items as shrimps, prawns and lobster.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Should Intelligence Get in the Way of Making Money?

Concerns have been raised about plans to 'farm' octopus species for human consumption, as is currently done for fish (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/12/octopus-farming-unethical-and-threat-to-food-chain). The octopus is a mollusc and, lacking a backbone, receives minimal welfare protection (only one species, Octopus vulgaris, is protected along with rats and mice in animal experimentation). The octopus has, however, a relatively large brain and tests have revealed their relative intelligence. It seems likely that these animals would 'suffer' under fish farming conditions (being crowded into a relatively featureless environment and supplied with food but minimal stimulation).

It's Not a Matter of Life and Death- It's More Important Than That?

The stupidities of the European football money-go-round are highlighted by the recent success of four England-based teams in reaching the two UEFA finals, one in Madrid and the other in Baku (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/11/anger-carbon-bootprint-english-football-finals-champions-league-europa-league). Although the main complaints by fans are about ticket allocations and the prices charged (for tickets, travel and accommodation), it has been estimated that the air travel alone undertaken by UK fans, who can currently get to the finals, will add around 35,000 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. At a time when people are concerned about climate change, this is totally unnecessary (I appreciate that the organisers like to spread their largesse around the continent but they need to show some intelligence). It appears, from that report, that UEFA also has a cunning plan to increase the 'boot-print' of air travel by fans who follow the national European teams!

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Seeing the Changes 1332


In Loughor, pink and white varieties of Dog rose (Rosa canina) were in bloom. It could, however, be the introduced Rosa rugosa.

Finger Licking Lichen?

People in New Zealand have been warned not to consume 'sexy pavement lichen' in spite of its being claimed by some folk to act as...