Why should we care about fungi?

Why should we care about fungi?

A BBC article has recently highlighted fungi and how the fungi kingdom tends to go unnoticed in comparison to plants and animals. And that is not just in terms of people taking an interest in them but also when it comes to research and conservation. As explained by the British Mycological (the study of fungi) Society, fungi are neither plant or animal and have a kingdom of their own of 3-5 million species. Most fungi are understudied meaning that they have not been named or described. It is thought that more than 90% of all fungi are yet to be described by science. The society is currently pushing for fungi to be included in the GCSE Natural History qualification launching in 2025 to promote their importance and encourage future studies. Dr Drakulic who is featured in the BBC article emphasises the concern with the lack of research into fungi as understandably it makes it very difficult to protect species that you know...
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Help garden birds this winter

Help garden birds this winter

With very early autumn conditions being labelled as a “false” autumn at the end of August, followed by almost spring-like conditions and then the big freeze last week, it’s fair to say that British wildlife is probably very confused right now. After being followed round the garden by a winter favourite, the robin this weekend, one of the chXout® team decided to look into what they could do for garden birds in this weather. With no bird seed and not a whole lot to choose from in the kitchen, it seemed like this might be a bit of a challenge. We should note that with the prevalence of bird flu at the moment, interaction with wild birds should be kept to a minimum and it is important to wash your hands before and after replacing food. As more people seem to be aware of now, the last thing we should really be feeding any type of birds is bread. Although it is not...
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Bird crime still at a high

Bird crime still at a high

RSPB Birdcrime Report The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has published their Birdcrime report today covering confirmed cases of bird of prey persecution in 2021. The chXout® team have read through the report to provide you with a summary of the key points. All wild birds and their nests are protected by law but this does not seem to be enough. Existing laws appear to be little to no deterrent due to punishments not being used to their full extent. There is a concern that killing is becoming more targeted, especially in Scotland, with a concerted effort to conceal the evidence. 108 incidents of persecution took place in the UK in 2021 which is the second highest number on record after 2020. Sadly, it is considered that this figure is likely to be much higher as these are only the confirmed cases with evidence. The 2020 report confirmed 137 cases which has now risen to 146. As seen in previous years...
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Finding rare bats with DNA testing

Finding rare bats with DNA testing

Finding rare bats with DNA testing The National Bats in Churches Study is a major citizen science survey covering over 1000 churches between 2019 and 2022. The survey included a questionnaire, collection of droppings for DNA analysis and the placing of bat detectors.  The aim of the study was to understand more about which species of bats use churches and why, to help them remain living there without causing a burden or damage to the church. Researchers are currently analysing the data of this particular survey to share their findings next year. An exciting outcome from the study so far is that one of the UK’s rarest bats, the grey long-eared bat (Plecotus austriacus), was found to be roosting in a church in Somerset. This was all thanks to the DNA analysis of bat droppings. It is thought that there are only around 1000 grey long-eared bats in England with very few confirmed records. In comparison to the grey long-eared bat, brown long-eared (Plecotus auritus) bats although...
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The Great Big Dorset Hedge Project

The Great Big Dorset Hedge Project

Perhaps a happier note compared to some of our more recent blogs…The Dorset Climate Action Network has launched the Great Big Dorset Hedge Campaign in an effort to map, plant and join up sections of hedgerow across Dorset. It is hoped that this will promote biodiversity and encourage wildlife across the county.The long-term project aims to create a network of connected and managed hedgerows as wildlife friendly corridors and refuge areas, with the help of the local communities along the way. By inspiring communities to take part by becoming hedge surveyors, coordinators or planters and providing the relevant training it is hoped that it will bring people closer together as communities and closer to nature. Why are hedgerows so important? Miles of ancient hedgerows have been removed to make way for agriculture and development. Hedgerows are thought of by many ecologists as an ecosystem itself due to the range of biodiversity within. They provide a home for 80% of the UK’s woodland birds, hedgehogs, many species of bats, great crested newt, dormice and butterflies.The re-planting of hedgerows...
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A week of wildlife reports

A week of wildlife reports

Last week two big reports were published by conservation groups Rewilding Europe and BirdLife International. The State of World Bird’s 2022 report sadly warns that nearly half of the world’s bird species are in decline and more than one in eight are at risk of extinction. BirdLife has been studying and documenting birds for 100 years. This is the fifth edition of the report, and it is a really important document, not just for birds but for biodiversity and the planet. The report explains: “It focuses on birds because they are an excellent barometer for planetary health. Being widely distributed, relatively easy to survey, and responsive to environmental change, birds are useful biodiversity indicators, revealing wider trends in natural ecosystems.” As we have seen as a familiar theme with a lot of our recent blogs, we know the reasons behind this decline with many factors caused by human actions. But we are doing very little to stop it and are at a crucial...
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