Learning to love spiders

How would you describe spiders? Of all the adjectives these fascinating creatures might inspire, ‘lovable’ is probably not up there in the top ten. Ask someone to describe a spider and you will more likely hear people say ‘scary’, ‘horrible’, ‘disgusting’ or ‘terrifying’. How wrong they are!

Molecular tools for curiosity-led natural history

The NFBR conference 2015 (photo Paula Lightfoot)Last week it was my great pleasure to attend the 2105 conference of the National Forum for Biological Recording which was jointly organised with the British Ecological Society's Macroecology Special Interest Group. In a wide-raging and memorable conference, which succeeded in bridging the gap between the academic and natural history ends of the biological recording world, one of the most interesting things for me was a workshop (and associated poster and presentation) on using molecular tools for biological recording.

National Plant Monitoring Scheme course

Monitoring a linear plot along a stream. Photo: C Bell Last week I had the very great pleasure of visiting FSC Nettlecombe to sit in on a National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS) training course. Firstly, Nettlecombe – what a place! The FSC centre at Nettlecombe is a beautiful Grade 1 listed 16th century manor house, nestled in a pretty Somerset valley, and it truly feels miles from anywhere. A brilliant place to forget about the rest of the world and concentrate on...a new, exciting, national citizen science plant monitoring scheme!

Applications for FSC Young Darwin Scholarships open

Young Darwin Scholars with Bex CartwrightThe FSC Young Darwin Scholars is a programme to nurture an in-depth interest in natural history amongst young people. As well as a five day residential course at Preston Montford, scholars receive support and mentoring at a time when they are thinking hard about where they want to take their lives - both in terms of career and their general interests.

Shropshire Earthworm Blitz!

Over the weekend of 1st/2nd August, the Tomorrow's Biodiversity project is organising a follow-up weekend field event to the very successful Earthworm Society of Britain field meeting which took place at Preston Montford and Powis Castle in March.

The Shropshire Earthworm Blitz will take place over the weekend of 1st/2nd August. Keiron Brown - one of the ESB trainers who ran the March event - is coming back to help us blitz Shropshire!

Invertebrate specialists and alcohol problems

Invertebrate specialists often require copious supplies of alcoholAs someone who studies invertebrates, I often find myself turning to the bottle. Whilst I would not recommend alcohol as part of a general approach to problem solving, I wouldn't be without it for preserving specimens. The animals I'm particularly interested in - spiders, harvestmen and, latterly, earthworms and springtails - are rather soft-bodied you see, and the accoutrements beloved of the coleopterist and dipterist - pins, plastazote, gum, card and the like - are of limited value to me; instead I require a copious supply of alcohol (and lots of little tubes).

Earthworm Society Field Meeting - report now available

Participants at Powis Castle.In March we hosted the Earthworm Society of Britain (ESB) at Preston Montford for one of their Field Meetings. Fourteen participants learned how to sample for and identify earthworns at two field sites - Powis Castle in Powys, Wales, and here at Preston Montford Field Centre in Shropshire.

Soil mesofauna - scratching the surface

'Flying saucer' mite with smaller phoresic mite.  Photo C.BellAnother weekend, another invertebrate training course! Last weekend I attended the four day Soil Mesofauna course, a Tom.bio-supported training course delivered by the country’s top experts in soil science, springtails and mites.

‘…Through the Action of Worms’

Last weekend Tom.bio welcomed the Earthworm Society of Britain to Preston Montford for their latest Field Meeting. A young and dynamic group, the ESB have done sterling work over the past few years to increase participation in the Earthworm Recording Scheme.

By biological recorders for biological recorders

NFBR bannerThe National Forum for Biological Recording (NFBR) is a membership organisation with the unique distinction that it represents, at a national level, the interests and work of biological recorders across all taxonomic groups. We think of ourselves as an independent voice for biological recorders in the UK. For an increasing number of biological recorders, the annual NFBR conference is a highlight of the social and professional development calendars. This year's conference - 'A Question of Ecology – Answers from Biological Recording' - promises to be one of the most exciting and best attended ever.

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