Blogs

Shropshire Springtail Atlas - update

Pogongnathellus sp. on paintbrush.  Photo: David WilliamsIt's been a couple of months since the launch of the Shropshire Springtail Atlas Project, so it's a good time to take stock and see where we've got to so far. Click through for some facts and figures on the Atlas Project to date...

Journeys through Inner Space

The surface of Orchesella villosa (above) and the surface of Pluto (below) Some of the most memorable media images of 2015 came from NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto. Although the images of Pluto were spectacular, those that really stuck in my memory were those of the scientists themselves as they watched the images appear on their monitors, beamed back to earth by New Horizons over 3 billion miles of intervening space. Just before Christmas 2015, my friend Ben and I were treated to some views of a springtail, Orchesella villosa, under a Scanning Electron Microscope by Thom Dallimore at Edge Hill University: it was our Pluto moment.

An Introduction to UK Biological Recording - guest blog by Keiron Brown

Earthworm recorders in action!My name is Keiron Derek Brown and I am a biological recorder. Until 3 years ago I had submitted the odd record here and there, often related to natural history courses I’d attended or volunteer work I’d been involved with. I understood, to a certain extent, the importance of recording wildlife but I was yet to be hooked on this Victorian pastime that has become so integral to science and policy in Britain today.

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.

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