Category Archives: Royal Horticultural Society

Spiral Sunday #15 – Happy New Year!

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A Spiral Sunday for New Year’s Day!  This shot was taken at last year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show where I was helping the British Ecological Society win a Silver Medal.  This is the water feature in Nick Bailey’s Beauty of Mathematics, one of my favourites from that year, and a garden in which Fibonacci spirals abounded, both in the plants and the hard landscaping.

Looking forward to RHS Chelsea 2017, the BES will be producing another display, and this time hunting for a Gold Medal.  I’ll let you know how it progresses.  Happy New Year to all of my readers!

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Filed under Biodiversity and culture, Gardens, Royal Horticultural Society

International Wildlife Gardening Conference – 23rd November

20160702_100724An International Wildlife Gardening conference is to be held at the Natural History Museum in London on 23rd November this year, organised by the Wildlife Gardening Forum.  The theme is:  “What European wildlife and nature gardeners can learn from each other” – very apt in these post-Brexit times.  The cost is £50 for the day (including lunch) and you can book by following this link.

Here is the programme for the day:

10.00 Registration and tea/coffee

10.30 Introduction and background; The Forum and the Wildlife gardening movement in England and Wales – Dr Steve Head (WLGF)

10.50 Nature gardening in Germany: an historical view from the start to today. How useful is the concept of native plants for wildlife? – Dr Reinhard Witt (President of Naturgarten e.V. [Nature Gardeners’ Association], Germany)

11.25 Naturgarten e.V.: nature-oriented design in gardens, educational institutions and public space in an era of climate change – Ulrike Aufderheide (Naturgarten e.V. [Nature Gardeners’ Association], Germany)

12.00 Lunch and networking (optional guided tour of the Wildlife Garden)

1.30 Biodiversity path in a heritage park: a case study – Jérôme Constant and Carole Paleco (Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences) (Afternoon Session Chair: Andrew Salisbury)

2.05 Looking for oases – Marianne van Lier and Willy Leufgen (Stichting Oase [Oasis Foundation], Netherlands)

2.40 Tea/coffee

3.00 Looking after our roots and the brown stuff – Sarah Rubalcava (Ireland)

3.35 19 years of Garden for Life: working together to promote wildlife gardening in Scotland – Dr Deborah Long and Juliette Camburn (Garden for Life Forum, Scotland)

4.10 Panel session with speakers (led by Adrian Thomas)

4.30 Summing up and Close

(Please note; this programme may be subject to late changes)

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Silver Medal for the BES’s pollinator’s display at RHS Chelsea Flower Show!

RHS Silver Medal

An early train to London yesterday got me to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in time for the gates opening at 8am.  I’d agreed to spend the day staffing the British Ecological Society’s Animal Attraction: The garden and beyond display, which deals with the relationships between plants and their pollinators – see my recent posts here and here.

The first thing I noticed as I approached the display was how impressive and well designed it looked, with some wonderful planting to complement the simple, bold scientific information.  The second thing I noticed was that we had won a Silver Medal!  The whole team was very pleased – it’s the third year that the BES has been represented at Chelsea, but the first time that it’s won a medal.  I’m proud to have made a small contribution to that by advising on the plants and the scientific content, but the main kudos goes to the BES’s staff and to the garden designer Emily Darby.

Over the course of a long day we talked to hundreds of visitors about the display, what it represented, and the different ways that flowers are adapted to their pollinators.  There was a huge amount of public interest and support, very gratifying to see.  Here’s some pictures from the day:

RHS display

RHS crowd

RHS crowd with fig

RHS Jeff

RHS display

 

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Filed under Bees, Biodiversity, Biodiversity and culture, Birds, British Ecological Society, Butterflies, Ecosystem services, Geology, Honey bees, Hoverflies, Pollination, Royal Horticultural Society, University of Northampton, Wasps

Pollinators, yeast, and the BES at RHS Chelsea – official press release

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The official press release for this week’s British Ecological Society display at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which I talked about last week, was embargoed until this morning; here’s the full text that’s been tailored by the University of Northampton press office:

 

Scent, colour and form all shape the choices we make about what to plant in our gardens. Gardeners know that flowers produce nectar and scent to attract the birds, bats, insects and other animals they rely on as pollinators, but few realise that organisms too small to see with the naked eye also play a vital role in this process.

Ecologists have discovered that a yeast called Metschnikowia plays a key part in the pollination story and next week, for the first time, visitors to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show will be able to get a sniff of it and see how it looks under the scanning electron microscope.

The yeast forms part of the British Ecological Society‘s Animal Attraction: The garden and beyond display, which focuses on the relationships between plants and their pollinators – relationships that are amazing in their diversity as well as crucial to global food security. The University of Northampton’s Professor of Biodiversity, Jeff Ollerton, has been advising the British Ecological Society on the project.

Metschnikowia is ubiquitous, present in most flowers in most gardens, yet ecologists are only just beginning to uncover its mysterious role in pollination. The yeast is studied in only four laboratories in the world and Dr Manpreet Dhami from Stanford University has donated the yeast for the British Ecological Society’s garden.

Like other yeasts, Metschnikowia may produce volatile chemicals that mimic the scent flowers use to attract pollinators, thus helping the flower to attract more pollinators and therefore set more seed. In return, the yeast becomes attached to birds, insects and other pollinators, which it relies on for dispersal.

Professor Ollerton explained: “It was a pleasure to work with the British Ecological Society on this project as it highlights two important points about the natural world: that pollinators other than bees are just as important to both wild plants and crops, and that the diversity and abundance of many of these groups is declining worldwide.” Professor Ollerton’s recent study, published in Science, found that 23 species of British bees and flower-visiting wasps have gone extinct since the 19th century.

According to Jessica Bays of the British Ecological Society: “To tackle this decline, we need to understand its causes, including climate change, habitat loss and pesticide use, and we also need to understand the role played by yeasts such as Metschnikowia, which is why we decided to bring it to Chelsea this year.”

Tickets are still available for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016 – for more information click here.

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Pollinators at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

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Pollinators, as regular readers of this blog will know, are diverse and important, both ecologically and agriculturally.  But that diversity is declining and it’s an issue that deserves greater publicity and action.

To that end, for the past eight months I’ve been advising a team from the British Ecological Society (BES) on the content for a display at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show which is running all next week.  The display is called “Animal Attraction: The Garden and Beyond” – if you follow that link you’ll get a sense of what the display is all about, but in essence there are three key messages that the BES is trying to get across:

  • Celebrating the diversity of pollinators (not just bees!) both in the UK and globally.
  • Flowers have evolved many different ways of attracting and rewarding pollinators, leading to the fantastic diversity of floral form that gardeners appreciate.
  • Planting a diversity of flowers in your garden can only be a good thing for helping conserve pollinator populations.

As you can see from my wristband, I’ll be helping to staff the stand all day Tuesday 24th May, so if you’re at the show come and say hello and take a look at what the BES team has produced.

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Filed under Bees, Biodiversity, Biodiversity and culture, Birds, British Ecological Society, Butterflies, Ecosystem services, Gardens, Honey bees, Hoverflies, Pollination, Royal Horticultural Society, Wasps

From Chester to Copenhagen

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It is 6.30am on Sunday morning but I’m wide awake and can hear the hotel in which we are staying stirring into life.  Time to reflect on what has been a long and busy week, rather than the start of a long and relaxing summer holiday as some assume academics enjoy.  That’s a myth: summers for many of us are at least as busy as the main teaching part of the year, though that’s not to say we don’t teach in the summer – I have final year project students to advise, and for students who did not pass first time round there’s still re-sit exams and assignments to be undertaken.

Of course I’m not complaining and the busyness is part of the fun of my job, which includes opportunities to travel, as I’ve previously described on this blog.  Before any travelling this week, however, Monday was taken up listening to my PhD student Kat Harrold give a seminar about the progress of her research on pollinator mapping and habitat modelling in the Nene Valley Nature Improvement Area.  This was followed by an hour’s grilling from the supervisory team and an independent colleague, as we drilled down into the research and suggested ways in which Kat could improve on the already excellent work that she’s doing.  All of this is a formal part of our PhD programme and Kat aquitted herself very well indeed.

Tuesday was the start of the travelling, and was spent in Chester helping with filming for an episode of a new four-part BBC2 series provisionally called Plant Odyssey, fronted by Carol Klein, Gardener’s World presenter and Honorary Fellow of the University. The series is being produced by Oxford Scientific Films and will be broadcast in the spring.  In the following scene we were making a rose perfume based on an ancient Roman recipe from the writings of Pliny the Elder.

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Now, I know very little about how to make perfume, but I do know a bit about flower scents and how they attract pollinators, so my role was to act as both a foil for Carol’s scent experiment and to add some science to the mix.  This is not the first filming I’ve done with Carol, having also helped out with her Science in the Garden special edition of Gardener’s World a few years ago.  While looking for that last link I discovered that all three episodes of Bees, Butterflies and Blooms is also available on YouTube, which is great to see as the BBC didn’t repeat the series or produce a DVD.  I was involved in the making of episode 2, which helped to kick-start the RHS’s Perfect for Pollinators plant labelling campaign.  Television work is fun and brings science, and the scientists who do it, to a much wider audience.

Wednesday I prepared my talk for Friday’s lecture in Copenhagen (more of which later) and Thursday involved attending the University of Northampton’s annual postgraduate research conference.  This is a highlight of the year for me as it’s an opportunity to see the breadth of postgraduate research going on across the university, something that would be impossible in a larger and more research intensive institution.  I was only able to attend the first session, but that alone covered research on the research process itself; feminist cyborg literature; the legality of the World Bank’s scrutiny panel; pollinator conservation (Kat Harrold again); and the experiences of families with children who have difficulties communicating.  Questions from the audience tended to be broad and non-specialist, and all the better for that: often it’s the straightforward, naive questions which test specialist knowledge.

The rest of Thursday Karin and I packed and then travelled up to Birmingham International for an early evening flight to Denmark.  I’d been invited by my colleague Bo Dalsgaard to present a research seminar at the University of Copenhagen’s Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate.  Coming from a small and very diverse department, it was great to visit such a large and specialised group of researchers, though over lunch the Center’s Director Carsten Rahbek told me that a common complaint from his staff was: “Why can’t we employ more people doing what I’m going?”  Everything’s relative I suppose.

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The title of my talk was “Pattern and process in pollination at large geographic scales”, which gave an overview of some of the research I’ve published over the last decade or so, framed around the following questions:

Quite a number of people in the Center were out doing field work or were otherwise engaged so I spoke to a modest-sized audience of some 30 people: certainly not the smallest audience I’ve ever presented to – that was three people, including the two who had invited me to give the talk!

The lecture seemed to be well received and there were some stimulating questions afterwards, though also a couple of challenging ones about statistical analysis.  One of these I couldn’t answer until afterwards because I’d forgotten the details of the methods we’d used (note to self: re-read old papers before you present their findings).  In answering the other I agreed with the questioner that the data could now be analysed in a more sophisticated way (future task, if I ever get the time).  If Kat’s reading this, I hope she takes satisfaction in not being the only person to be asked difficult questions about their research this week!

Afterwards I chatted with Bo and Carsten about the limitations of the current and paleo-climate data sets we’ve been using in some studies, which are indeed very limited.  But there are only two options.  Do we work with data sets that are flawed, whilst acknowledging that any conclusions are tentative?  Or wait until better data become available, which could be a decade in the future?  My choice is definitely to go with the former, otherwise we’d never publish anything because there are always limitations to data used in studies of ecology and biodiversity. Personal and public honesty about such limitations, and ideas as to how they can be overcome in the future, are surely preferable to stalling research.

Later that afternoon I discussed science with two of Bo’s collaborators, Pietro Maruyama a Brazilian PhD student whom I’d met last November, and Peter, a Danish undergraduate.  Both are doing excellent work on that most charismatic group of pollinators, the hummingbirds.

Friday evening I was exhausted, and Karin and I opted for dinner in the hotel restaurant and an early night, as Saturday was to be spent exploring Copenhagen. It’s a great city for wandering around, with fascinating architecture and unexpected additions to buildings, such as bronze dragons:

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And parks with statues of artists and writers, such as Hans Christian Andersen:

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After a roundabout wander, via a gallery selling African tribal art (which we couldn’t afford) and a small lunch (which we could only just afford – Copenhagen’s an expensive city!) we eventually ended up at the University’s Botanical Garden, which has a superb living collection of cacti and succulents, orchids and other epiphytes, and alpine plants.

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It beautifully illustrates the huge morphological diversity encompassed within the 352,000 or so species of flowering plants, one of the many reasons why I love visiting botanical gardens: I always see something new.  This included two species of bumblebees (Bombus) which I’m sure don’t occur in Britain.  I’ll have to look them up when I get back:  from Chester to Copenhagen and, tomorrow, back to Northampton.

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Filed under Bees, Biodiversity, Biogeography, Gardens, Macroecology, Pollination, Royal Horticultural Society, University of Northampton

Nature as gardener (Darwin’s Unrequited Isle part 5)

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Gardening and gardens are a long-standing interest of mine, as I’ve mentioned in a few posts, such as “Harvest of evidence” and “In defence of lawns“.  At the moment the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is running and medals are being awarded to gardens and plants, some of which I like, some of which I don’t: make up your own mind from this gallery of images taken around the show.

But nature often trumps us when it comes to aesthetically pleasing plant combinations.  The photograph above (which you can click to see a larger version) was taken in the Anagas Mountains during our recent Tenerife Field Course. Although it’s along a roadside, these two plants have grown there spontaneously – nature as gardener!  The plants are both endemic Macaronesian species:  the billowy white flowers of a Canary Island sea kale (Crambe strigosa) found only on Tenerife and La Gomera, spill over the vivid yellow blooms of a large buttercup (Ranunculus cortusifolius, from the Canary Islands and the Azores).

Up close it makes for a subtle but effective combination (again, looks better if you click to open it):

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The plants of Tenerife never fail to impress – here’s the Canary Island Foxglove (Isoplexis canariensis) one of the bird-pollinated plants of Tenerife that we’ve studied in the past:

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This post is largely deflection behaviour to take me away from grading student dissertations.  So before I return to it I’ll leave you with a gratuitous shot of three endemic Canary Island species:  a woody sow thistle (Sonchus sp.) being pollinated by the Canary Island Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris canariensis), and the Canary Island Large White butterfly (Pieris cheiranthi) whose caterpillars, to take us back to the beginning, feed on Crambe strigosa:

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Now, back to the coal face…..

 

 

 

 

 

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For she’s a jolly good Honorary Fellow (reduce, reuse, recycle part 4)

August 2009 - Gardeners World 052

The signals of spring are appearing across Northamptonshire.  Despite the current cold and wet weather, a couple of recent ventures out into the wilds revealed Prunus sp. and lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) in flower, as well as lots of frisky birds doing their thing.  But for me there is no surer sign of approaching spring than the start of a new series of Gardeners’ World on BBC 2.  It’s a programme I’ve followed for many years and (as well as useful gardening information) it provides a barometer  for how a significant sub-class of the Great British Public (amateur gardeners) thinks about the environment and its biodiversity.   It’s also an influential programme that changes behaviours,  as I argue in the following piece of writing from last year, when the University of Northampton gave Gardeners’ World presenter and gardening writer Carol Klein an Honorary Fellowship.

Universities award honorary degrees and fellowships to famous people and “celebrities” for a variety of reasons, not all of them laudable and some ethically dubious.  But we proposed Carol Klein because of the effect her work has had on how gardeners garden.  I had the pleasure of introducing Carol at the graduation ceremony, in front of an audience of a couple of thousand graduands and their families.  What follows is the text of that presentation; as I’ve mentioned previously, why waste good words when they can be reduced, reused and recycled?

Following an introduction by the Vice ChancellorOllerton steps up to lectern dressed like an extra from a Harry Potter movie, be-gowned and be-capped. He starts to speak…..

Chancellor, insofar as the Council and Senate of the University have seen fit to establish Honorary Fellowships to confer on eminent individuals, I today present to the Chairman one on whom the Council and Senate have determined to confer such an award.

PAUSE – Carol was guided by a Marshall to stand at the front of the stage.  Once she was in place and the Marshall had returned to his seat, Ollerton continued….

I am delighted to introduce to you Mrs Carol Klein.

SHORT PAUSE – just for effect…..

There can be no doubt that the British are a nation of gardeners.  Whether it’s just developing a window box, a small back garden, or, for the more adventurous, an allotment, horticulture is a hobby that excites both young and old.  This is reflected in some astonishing statistics; the Horticultural Trade Association estimated that in 2010 the Garden Retail Market was worth £4.6 billion to the economy, whilst public gardens such as Kew and the Eden Project both host over one million visitors a year.

Much of this public passion for gardening is both reflected in, and fuelled by, the coverage it is given in newspapers, magazines, radio and (most especially) television.  And since its first broadcast in 1968, the BBC’s Gardeners’ World has been the pre-eminent gardening programme in Britain and Carol Klein is one of its most popular presenters.

Carol was born in Walkden in Salford, Lancashire and has never lost her accent!    Following her school education she trained as an art teacher and taught in schools in London before moving to Devon.  There Carol taught at North Devon College whilst developing her own interest in plants and gardening.

This grew, quite literally, into her own plant nursery, Glebe Cottage Plants, which she set up with her husband Neil.

What was once a hobby had become a career.  The nursery exhibited at all the major Royal Horticultural Society shows, winning gold medals at Hampton Court, Westminster, Malvern and of course Chelsea.  In 1989 a Gardeners’ World feature on Glebe Cottage Plants led to invitations to work as a guest presenter for the BBC and Channel 4.

In 1998 Carol wrote and presented a six-part series Wild About the Garden in which she promoted the ideals of finding space for native flora and fauna in our gardens, something which is very close to the hearts of those of us who teach and carry out research in the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences.

Carol has starred in other TV programmes, including two series of Real Gardens, as well as offering her expertise to television programmes such as Garden Doctors, Time Team and even Water Colour Challenge.  Carol’s most recent series, Life in a Cottage Garden, was filmed at her own Glebe Cottage.  In December the High Summer episode from the series won the prestigious Garden Programme TV Broadcast of the Year award at the 2011 Garden Media Guild TV & Radio Broadcast Awards.

Life in a Cottage Garden was also made into a book of the same name because as well as her television presenting work, Carol is a prolific author.  Carol has written a number of bestselling books including Grow Your Own Veg, with over 200,000 copies sold, and contributes articles for periodicals including Garden News, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph and, of course, Gardeners’ World magazine.

And it is Carol’s weekly appearances as one of the presenters of Gardeners’ World for which she is most famous.  Every Friday night between March and October over 2 million of us watch the programme as it is broadcast, with many more catching up with it later on the BBC iPlayer.

Gardeners, whether experienced or novice, cannot help but be roused by Carol’s passionate and energetic on-screen persona.  However, this is not an act for the benefit of the audience, it’s how she is!  I learned that a couple of years ago when I had the pleasure of working  with Carol for a Gardeners’ World special edition called The Science of Gardening.  During a long day of filming Carol never lost her curiosity and enthusiasm for the subjects we were discussing.

The programme was filmed at Glebe Cottage.  In an article for the Guardian newspaper a few years ago, Carol wrote:  “It has taken a long time to get to know my garden – 30 and a bit years – and I’m still finding out about it……..at every twist and turn it unfolds new revelations.  A garden is a place to enjoy and indulge in, something you can love, somewhere you can nurture. It stimulates all the senses, and its very unpredictability gives it a vitality not often encountered in our contrived and controlled world.”

This, to me, sums up what makes Carol such a special gardening presenter and communicator – even familiar things excite her, whilst the unfamiliar is approached with a keenness to understand and to communicate it to the widest possible audience.  In that sense, Carol’s original training as a teacher has never been lost.

Chancellor, distinguished guests, graduands….

ANOTHER SHORT PAUSE – just for effect….

…..today we are honouring Carol Klein not just because of her work as a public gardening figure but also for her contribution to persuading gardeners to think about and to limit the negative impact of their hobby.

All human activity, including gardening, has an impact on the environment that sustains us.  It is Carol Klein’s championing of gardening in an organic, wildlife friendly way which may be her most lasting contribution.  Tellingly, a recent Public Attitude Survey by Defra showed that almost 70% of respondents “actively encouraged wildlife in their gardens, for example through feeding areas or specific planting”.  It is people such as Carol who have helped to shape public opinion in such a positive way.

As Carol put it in a newspaper article a few years ago, gardening with the environment in mind:  “relies on building up communities of fungi, flora and fauna in the soil, and any interruption or chemical intervention sets it back. It’s not a question of being hardcore; it’s about having faith in nature and natural processes.”  That faith is more than just “tree hugging” or “Saving the Planet”: the UK National Ecosystem Assessment in 2011 estimated that our natural environment contributes over £30 billion to our economy every year through the provision of ecosystem services such as fresh water, carbon storage, pest control and pollination.  Gardeners have an important part to play in ensuring that we do not compromise those ecosystem services and Carol Klein has played a significant role in promoting those values.

Chairman, In accordance with the decision of the Council and Senate, I am privileged to present to you Carol Klein that you may confer an Honorary Fellowship.

Applause from the audience as a very embarrassed looking Carol Klein steps forward to give an engaging and humorous speech.  Ollerton goes back to his seat on the stage, relieved his part is over

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Scientists Must Write (and Speak and Listen and Review and Edit)

“Scientists Must Write” was the title of a book published back in the late 1970s by a former tutor of mine, Robert Barrass, at what was then Sunderland Polytechnic (now the University of Sunderland).  I had assumed the book was now a long gone publishing memory and no longer available.  But it turns out that Robert updated it in the early 2000s and it’s still in print.  Almost 30 years (30!) later I can clearly remember Robert impressing upon us the importance of good writing skills for scientists-in-training.  At the time I was as far from being a professional scientist as it’s possible to be and so didn’t fully grasp this, but nonetheless what he said chimed with my own notions that writing was important, even for a scientist.

Nowadays I realise that it’s not just the writing of standard, academic papers, book chapters and books which  is essential: writing of all kinds is a necessary facet of the life of a research active scientist.   This June sees the publication of two contrasting articles that illustrate this point.  The Royal Horticultural Society’s journal The Plantsman has published a piece entitled “The Importance of Native Pollinators“, whilst the historical journal Notes and Records of the Royal Society has published my paper on “John Tweedie and Charles Darwin in Buenos Aires“.  Neither of these is standard academic fare, at least for me.  The first is a popular article aimed largely at gardeners and others interested in understanding more about pollinator conservation.  The second, whilst academic and rigourously peer reviewed, is primarily historical rather than scientific.

Why am I writing popular conservation articles and historical papers?  Largely for different reasons, though they are linked by my overall fascination with biodiversity.  The Plantsman article is an example of taking ideas and findings from the LBRG‘s research and presenting it to a wider audience who might, at the least, find it interesting and hopefully useful.  One might describe it as “popular science” though I don’t really like the term: it suggests that it’s somehow different to “real” science, which is not the case: it’s really only the format of the presentation which is different.

The John Tweedie/Charles Darwin paper reflects my desire to understand where our scientific knowledge of biodiversity comes from.  As scientists and conservationists, we draw conclusions about species’ distributions, conservation threats, extinctions, and so forth, based on information from specimens that have been collected by people like Tweedie and Darwin, and curated at places such as Kew and the Natural History Museum.  By its nature it’s a historical process and historical research helps us to understand how we arrived at our current understanding.  The only reason we know that 23 species of bee have gone extinct in England since about 1800 for example, as I cite in my Plantsman article, is that over the past two centuries specimens and observations have been recorded and analysed.  This is an ongoing process, exemplified by the BWARS project mapping the spread of Bombus hypnorum   the most recent addition to the UK’s native bee list.

As well as writing we scientists gain much from listening to what others in our field have to say and a well attended, and very interesting, meeting in London last week launched the British Ecological Society’s Macroecology Special Interest Group .  The range of talks spanned community structure, interaction networks, ecosystem services, latitudinal gradients and disease biology, all at the large spatial and temporal macroecological scales covered by this subdiscipline of ecology.  Or is it really a multidisciplinary field, a merging of old fashioned biogeography with more modern ecological approaches?  Who knows, perhaps this is sterile semantics; as I mentioned to one of the organisers in the pub afterwards, “macroecology” seems to me to be more about a philosophy of approach rather than a field in itself.

Formal teaching has largely finished for the time being, so in addition to research activities and university administrative work, much of the remainder of the last couple of weeks seems to have been taken up with editorial and peer reviewing duties for journals, including PLoS ONE, for which I’m an academic editor. This can be time consuming and thankless, but is absolutely vital if the whole system of scientific publishing is not to grind to a halt.  Scientists must write, but that writing is supported by a body of individuals who act as peer reviewers, editors, proof readers, and so forth.  Collectively that eats up a lot of scientist-hours and is something we should never take for granted.

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Filed under Bees, Biodiversity, Biogeography, British Ecological Society, Charles Darwin, Ecosystem services, John Tweedie, Macroecology, PLoS ONE, Pollination, Royal Horticultural Society, Royal Society, University of Northampton