20 August 2014

New analysis provides "clearest and most precise picture to date" of how tropical and sub-tropical forest biodiversity responds to human pressures

The first results from a global model produced to investigate the effects of anthropogenic pressures on tropical and sub-tropical forest biodiversity have been published today. In an article in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Newbold et al present a comprehensive exploration of changes in the structure of ecological communities in these habitats as a result of land-use change, which constitutes the first analysis to come out of the UK-led PREDICTS Project.

17 August 2014

Fruits of the forest: Douglas fir needles


This post is not about something I've made myself, but rather a run of recent inspiration for future creations on a recurring theme: needles of the Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii).

Fruits of the forest: Blackberries


Perhaps the most widely harvested forest foodstuff of all in Britain is the blackberry, the fruit of the bramble (Rubus fruticosa). At this time of the year, they can appear in great abundance, making it easy, in any one collecting trip, to pick enough for both fresh eating and freezing. My efforts shift towards the latter if the conditions during harvesting are more autumnal, and my thoughts are thus tuned to the long winter ahead.

1 August 2014

Ecocentrism versus anthropocentrism: Where do mainstream scientific periodicals stand?

Two recent issues of major scientific periodicals shed some light on a topic that I intend to briefly discuss here and return to later: just how strong is the tendency towards anthropocentrism in mainstream scientific discourse?

Research blast: Policy and management (01-08-14)

This post briefly summarizes findings from five recent studies relating to policy and management and provides links to the full papers (a log-in or purchase may be required for access).

Keeping the Wild: Against the Domestication of Earth (Island Press, 2014)

There exists a shearing schism within the conservation movement. Co-editor Tom Butler, in his introduction to this compelling new anthology, summarizes it as a dichotomy of visions for Earth's future: "Do we continue down the path toward a gardened, managed planet with less beauty and wildness? Or take a wilder path toward beauty and ecological health, with a smaller human footprint and cultures imbedded in a matrix of wildness[…]?"

This body of writing, which combines over a dozen new essays with half a dozen reworked pieces from a diversity of sources, presents an impassioned rebuttal of the first option, the "Anthropocene-framed agenda for conservation based on domesticating Earth."

9 July 2014

Research blast: Habitat ecology (09-07-14)

This post briefly summarizes findings from five recent studies relating to habitat ecology and provides links to the full papers (a log-in or purchase may be required for access).

11 June 2014

Research blast: Habitat ecology (11-06-14)

This post briefly summarizes findings from five recent studies relating to habitat ecology and provides links to the full papers (a log-in or purchase may be required for access).

For a description of this and other research blast categories, click here.

Research blast: Forest health (11-06-14)

This post briefly summarizes findings from a pair of recent studies relating to forest health and provides links to the full papers (a log-in or purchase may be required for access).

For a description of this and other research blast categories, click here.

24 May 2014

Broad-bodied chaser

The brightening of a woodland walk by the sight of dragonflies is something that I know I will never tire of, and the experience is that much more rewarding when they rest on a perch for long enough to allow close inspection, as a broad-bodied chaser (Libellula depressa; pictured in this post) did on a recent walk.

18 May 2014

The Drinker caterpillar


Found typically in grassland, but also in woodland, one of the largest hairy caterpillars to be seen in Britain is that of The Drinker moth (Euthrix potatoria), pictured in this post. It is listed in my field guide as being 75mm in length and is named for its reputed larval habit of sipping dew.

Acorn weevil

In Kruger National Park, South Africa, the point that there is more to see than large mammals is made by pairing each of the "Big Five" with a much smaller namesake in an alternative collection branded the "Little Five". This includes, for instance, the rhino beetle and the antlion.

A similar approach could be applied in British deciduous woodland – pairing, for instance, hawthorn and the hawthorn shieldbug. Another candidate for inclusion in this set would be the acorn weevil (Circulio glandium), pictured in this post. Measuring just 4–8mm in length, but crammed with detail, this species merits examination through a loupe hand lens.

15 May 2014

Herb-Paris

Herb-Paris, pictured in this post, is one of Britain's most distinct woodland wildflowers, if not one of the easiest to find. I was pointed towards a couple of patches by someone in the know at a Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust reserve, and they really did make for spectacular sights. The plant is a perennial of damp woodlands (typically on chalky soils), and it is an ancient woodland indicator species.

Research blast: Policy and management (15-05-14)

This post briefly summarizes findings from five recent studies relating to policy and management and provides links to the full papers (a log-in or purchase may be required for access).

For a description of this and other research blast categories, click here.

Research blast: Stand dynamics (15-05-14)

This post briefly summarizes findings from five recent studies relating to stand dynamics and provides links to the full papers (a log-in or purchase may be required for access).

For a description of this and other research blast categories, click here.

9 May 2014

Woundwort shieldbug

I had heard before that, in the right spot, shieldbugs and their allies can be found in considerable numbers and variety. This is something I was recently fortunate enough to experience first hand, while strolling past a patch of vegetation on a woodland edge. The woundwort shieldbugs (Eysarcoris venustissimus) pictured in this post were sharing their quarters with hairy shieldbugs (Dolycoris baccarum), green shieldbugs (Palomena prasina), several Rhopalus subrufus, and at least one Coreus marginatus. A little later, in the continuation of the woodland across a busy road, I was able to add Harpocera thoracica to my morning's bug list.

27 April 2014

Blossom of the Midland hawthorn

The Midland hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata) is one of many tree species competing during the spring in British woodland and hedgerow for the attention of pollinators.

21 April 2014

Research blast: Habitat ecology (21-04-14)

This post briefly summarizes findings from five recent studies relating to habitat ecology and provides links to the full papers (a log-in or purchase may be required for access).

For a description of this and other research blast categories, click here.

Bluebells in hornbeam woodland


It would be highly remiss of a website publishing regular posts on nature in British woodland to neglect the bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) at this time of year. And this week they would appear to be at their very best, at least in the woods of Hertfordshire.

14 April 2014

Satellite remote sensing for biodiversity research and conservation applications

Coordination of research efforts between the remote-sensing and ecology scientific communities may have a vital role to play in the conservation of biodiversity and protection of ecosystem functions. A special themed issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B published today focuses on how integrative approaches combining ecological knowledge and satellite-based information are enabling an improved understanding of the mechanisms responsible for changes in patterns of biodiversity.

Two of the articles relate directly to forestry and brief descriptions of these are provided below, along with links to the full papers (a log-in or purchase is required for access).