Last week, David Dodds came to tell us all about what it’s like to be an ecological consultant who specialises in bats!
So what do ecological consultants actually do?
- Their main aim is to limit the damage done by people such as developers (the bad guys!), so what thet do isn’t really conservation – more like prevention!
- They advise developers on things like wildlife laws, licenses for development, and moral obligations
- Their jobs involve LOTS of fieldwork! They are always having to do wildlife surveys and research on behalf of their clients.
- Unfortunately, this also means LOTS of report writing, which often end up in courts of law.
- A lot of teamwork is involved, working with people from lots of different ecological disciplines on one site, and there is lots of talking and careful planning!
- Work can often be seasonal, especially if you work with bats!
- Also often requires antisocial hours and lots of travelling to various sites
- Most importantly – although we’re all here for our love of wildlife – ecological consultants have to be able to deal with people too! A LOT! It’s important in this job that you can talk to people and be able to influence their decisions!
On the 11th of Feb, we had an interesting talk on ‘The Conservation Value and Vulnerability of Amphibian Communities along a Tropical Altitudnal Gradient‘ by Jaime Villacampa who has spent a lot of time in tropical areas studying amphibians and their ecology – especially in Peru.
He started off by giving us a bit of background information on tropical amphibians!
- Of the ~7000 species of amphibians, around 600 of these are found in Peru!
- The Manu region of Peru – where Jaime conducted his research – is the most diverse area for amphibians in the world!!
- Tropical areas are good for amphibians because of their huge variety of habitats!
- Tropical areas are also, usually, very humid – this is perfect for amphibians as they need to keep their thin skin nice and moist!
Last week, we had a really interesting talk from Laurie Baker about her current PhD project on fox rabies as well as all her previous research projects including her Master’s and Undergrad degree.
Rabies is a viral disease which affects all mammals and is spread through the saliva of infected animals. When an animal becomes infected with rabies, there are no symptoms for around 3 weeks, as the virus migrates to the brain. Then, there is a rapid increase of the virus in the saliva and after 4 days the disease will lead to death. The rabies epidemic originated in the 1940s in Poland, where a cross-over from dogs to foxes occured, and from there the disease became rapidly widespread throughout Europe.
The main method for eradicating rabies in foxes is through oral vaccines, which are distributed via aeroplane and dropped into known fox territories. The vaccines are in the form of tablets – similar to dog biscuits – which attract the foxes who then eat them, and are subsequently protected from infection. This method is slightly more difficult in urban areas as the vaccines have to be distributed by hand but, nevertheless, eradication has been extremely successful and the majority of West and Central Europe is now rabies-free! Continue reading
Last week, we had a really lovely and interesting talk by Mark Mitchell from the RSPB. He gave us a wonderful insight into how you can get into a career in conservation (or whatever you want!) if you work hard and just keep at it!
Interestingly, Mark did not study Zoology or any kind of science – he attended Stirling University where he did Media Studies. Once he graduated, however, he realised that this was no longer a path he wanted to follow and so instead he pursued his new-found interest in wildife, particularly birds.
Moving from his home in England to Scotland opened Mark’s eyes to the fascinating and beautiful wildlife we have in this country. He was keen to share his interest and enthusiam for wildlife with others, and that is what inspired him to get involved with the RSPB! Continue reading
Last week, we had Emily Waddell from Froglife come to give us a fantastic talk about the work that they do and the number of ways in which keen students can get involved with them! It was really interesting and even included some fun interactive activities to keep us engaged!
But if you missed it, not to worry, here’s what it was all about:
Froglife are a charity organisation who are focused on conserving amphibians and reptiles throughout the UK.
Emily is from Froglife Scotland (who are based right here in the university in the Graham Kerr Building!) and she spoke about their Scottish Dragon Finder Project which they are currently working on. This is a 4-and-a-half year project, of which there are 2-and-a-half years left, focused on the education about and conservation of Scotland’s native amphibian and reptile species. Continue reading