Blogs

Embracing uncertainty: version 2 of the earthworm multi-access key

Earthworm by Charlie BellThe Tom.bio earthworm multi-access key lets me access the knowlege-based of Emma Sherlock's AIDGAP key in a way that puts me in charge of the identification process. But one of the advantages of multi-access keys - dealing with uncertainty - was not very well realised in version 1 of our key. Version 2 does a much better job of dealing with uncertainty - sorting and ranking species in a much more powerful way and making for a much improved multi-access key.

NBN Conference 2015

UK Biological Recording Award Winners 2015Last week the FSC's Biodiversity team, including Tom.bio, attended the NBN's 2015 Conference in York. It was an inspirational and poignant two days, following so closely after the untimely death of NBN CEO John Sawyer earlier this month.

Three days of eight legs

Nuctenea umbratica.  C Bell Last week was a week of spiders. Spiders in the classroom, spiders in the field, spiders in the lab! It was all part of our spider training programme, which Tom.bio is running in conjunction with the Shropshire Spider Group.

Guest blog for Friends of the Earth

Four spot orb weaver Araneus quadratusTom.bio were recently asked to do a guest blog on spiders for Friends of the Earth. This is now live on their 'Green Blog' and will hopefully help convince more people that spiders should be admired, not feared! Many thanks to FoE for this opportunity.

NBN Youth Awards 2015

Children sampling freshwater invertebratesNominations needed for under 18s in the inaugural 2015 UK Awards for Biological Recording. Do you know a keen and committed young biological recorder who is under the age of 18? If so, why not nominate them for a UK Award? The awards recognise outstanding contributions to UK biological recording and being nominated could be a fantastic boost for a young naturalist.

Shropshire Earthworm Blitz 2015

Earthworms in hand.  Photo: M Noble Last weekend Tom.bio held the inaugural Shropshire Earthworm Blitz. This was designed as a follow-up to March’s Earthworm Society of Britain’s (ESB) field meeting, which we hosted here at Preston Montford. Read more...

On microscopy and the joy of SX

A microscope-heavy classroom at FSC Preston Montford!Ever noticed how so many microscopes seem to be called SX something or other? No? Maybe it's just the really sexy ones. Yes, I expect that's the technical reason for the SX moniker. According to the excellent website History of the Microscope, it is widely held that Dutch spectacle makers Hans & Zacharias Jansen (a father and son team) made the first optical microscope. But ask any biologist and they will tell you that it was the publication of Robert Hooke's Micrographia that made microscopy really sexy.

With a little help from my friends

Attendees on the 2015 Soil Mesofauna course.One of the things which Tom.bio is interested in is how people can be supported in the weeks, months and even years after they attend a training course. Attendees on biological identification courses typically spend a few very intensive days learning about a new species group, building new skills and making new contacts. But all too often once the course ends, that initial enthusiasm is lost because there’s no follow up mechanism or on-going support to encourage people to build on their new knowledge.

Uncertain, or just Confused? The joy of moth trapping

Elephant hawk mothI started moth trapping for the first time this spring, and consequently am writing this with all the fervour of a new convert. For anyone unfamiliar with moth trapping, it involves simultaneously annoying your neighbours, your partner and your friends! Let me explain…

Bashing the squares: the BBS and NPMS

NPMS survey plotLike many UK naturalists at this time of year, last weekend I was busy playing my part as a volunteer - a citizen scientist if you like - monitoring the UK's biodiversity. I was square bashing - continuing an annual ritual of participation in the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) and starting something new by surveying, for the first time, a square for the National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS).

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