How do zoos decide which animals to keep?

The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) boasts over 700 million visitors to its zoos each year – including London Zoo (UK), Calgary Zoo (Canada) and hundreds of other institutions around the world. This makes them a huge asset in raising awareness for the environmental threats that animals face, whilst also generating substantial funds …

Yellowstone: Wolves as ecosystem engineers

The effects of the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone National Park, USA, have been widely studied – the prolonged absence and then reintroduction of wolves at the top of the food chain makes this case study a great natural experiment into ecosystem dynamics. This post will collate the interesting bits from the research, and look …

What has Boris got against newts?!

Last month (July 2020) the UK prime minister Boris Johnson said the following words: “Time is money. And the newt-counting delays in our system are a massive drag on the productivity and prosperity of this country.” …What’s that all about? What are newt-counting delays, and how are newts linked with societal productivity and prosperity? This …

Mutualism in nature: Fungal friends and finding Nemo

Mutualism is the technical term used to describe a relationship between organisms from which both parties benefit. For example, bees benefit from the nectar provided by flowers, when the flowers themselves are pollinated by the spread of their pollen to other flowers. It differs from symbiosis, a word which is often used alongside mutualism, as …

Land sharing or land sparing? Conservation vs food production

The land-sharing land-sparing framework (LSLS) addresses the issue of providing food for an ever-growing population, whilst maintaining or improving biodiversity (Kremen, 2015). The first of the two ideas is land-sharing, which combines conservation and wildlife-friendly farming practices within the same area of agricultural land (Phalan et al., 2001). England’s Environmental Stewardship policy promotes this strategy …

Knocking out Knotweed: Nature’s weapons

I am sure that a lot of you already know of knotweed – it is the big baddie of the invasive species, as its ability to dominate environments, by killing off and inhibiting the growth and reproduction of other plants (Clements et al., 2016), and by changing the soil chemistry to the benefit of invaders …

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