Tree Killing Beetles

Tree Killing Beetles

Did you know that elm trees were nearly wiped out by a fungal disease carried by beetles?Before elm was disseminated by beetles carrying a microfungi, it was the second most important broad leaf timber in Britain to oak. Like oak, it was of great landscape importance and formed an important component of our native woodland, supporting a wide range of fauna and flora.Elm hosts around 80 species of invertebrates such as the rare White-letter Hairstreak (Satyrium w-album) and in spring, its early pollen is sought after by many insects including honey bees. Elms are also a very important food source for songbirds, game birds and squirrels as their seeds develop long before many other seeds are available.Over the past century there have been two pandemics of Dutch Elm Disease (DEM) caused by two separate but related species of Asian microfungi, Ophiostoma ulmi and O. novo-ulmi. The non-native microfungi are dispersed by bark beetles of the genera Scolytus and Hylurgopinus. These beetles are no larger...
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Britain’s Beavers

Britain’s Beavers

The Eurasian beaver (Castor fibre) is native to the UK and used to be widespread across England, Scotland and Wales. Beavers became extinct here in the 16th century, because of hunting for their pelt, meat and a secretion called castoreum which they use to mark their territory. The latter was once highly prized for use in perfumes, food and medicine. Over the past decade major efforts have been underway to reintroduce beavers into the British countryside. As a result, the Eurasian beaver has shown good recovery across much of its range. The National Trust recently announced that two pairs of beaver will be released in the south of England next spring, after their plans were approved by Natural England. These releases are part of the National Trust's wider plan to restore 25,000 hectares of "wildlife-rich" habitats by 2025. One pair is to be released into a fenced woodland in Holnicote near Exmoor in Somerset. The other pair is to be...
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Insect Declines Matter!

Insect Declines Matter!

We are witnessing the largest extinction event on earth since the late Permian… in other words, 250 million years ago. Over the past 50 years we have reduced Earths wildlife abundance dramatically and many of the species that were once prevalent are now few and far between. Much of our attention is given to large charismatic animals and little is given to the smaller, some say, less attractive animals. There are around one million known insect species, 41% of which are threatened with extinction. Staggeringly, there are estimated to be another four million insect species that we have yet to discover [1]. Although we are decades away from cataloguing the insect diversity of this planet, it is likely that many species will be lost before we ever recognised they existed. More recently, evidence suggests that insect abundance has fallen by more than 50% since 1970, yet most people are unaware and have not even noticed that anything has changed....
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The decline of our prickly neighbours

The decline of our prickly neighbours

Hedgehogs are in serious decline in the UK and we need to do all we can to help them. Please try to create hedgehog friendly places in your garden (a wood pile for example) and try not to use slug pellets - let the hedgehogs do the job for you!  If you see a hedgehog in the daylight it is likely to be sick, so pick it up with gardening gloves or a towel and put it in a cardboard box in the quiet, warm and dark.  Call 01584 890 801 to speak to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, or go to https://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk for more advice....
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Dogs help to keep you happy and healthy!

Dogs help to keep you happy and healthy!

Dogs have long been associated with a range of health benefits such as: Improving your heart health - dog owners have been found to reduce your risk of heart disease. Improving your physical health - dog owners are recommended to do 2 and a half hours of moderate exercise. Helping you lose weight as a result of moderate exercise. Decreasing your stress levels - dogs have been found to help decrease stress hormones in the human body. Improve your social life as you meet more people through your dog. Decrease depression - dogs provide great companionships which helps to decrease loneliness and depression. A new study has recently added increased lifespan to that list! Researchers at Uppsala University, Sweden [1]carried out a 12 year longitudinal study to investigate dog ownership and lifespan. The study analysed 3.2 million Swedes aged 40-80 years old who had no history of illness. In Sweden, all dogs must be registered with the Swedish Board of Agriculture and, consequently,...
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Sixth mass extinction is underway..

Sixth mass extinction is underway..

Evidence from fossil records has suggested that a sixth mass extinction is underway due to a large number of species disappearing within a relatively short period of time. Although extinction is a natural process which scientists suggests effects up to 98% of species., there is growing concern for the rate of modern extinction. The dramatic increase in extinction rate due to human activities such as hunting, trade, development and pollution is 100-1000 times higher than the natural background rate and does not give ecosystems enough time to recover their populations, causing many species to be listed as endangered under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. But are some species more prone to extinction than others? New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [1] which compared more than 27 000 vertebrates and analysed the relationship between body size and extinction risk found that of the 4000 species threatened with extinction both the heaviest and the smallest...
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