Aquatic Symbionts: Assessing the Abundance of Torix Group Rickettsia in Aquatic Insects around the World

Symbionts are known to be an important aspect of almost every living organism. Invertebrates are no exception. They display a remarkable range of symbiotic relationships with bacteria, which are capable of altering reproduction, defence against natural enemies, and play a role in nutrition. Up until now, most work has centred on a bacteria called Wolbachia which is commonly found in insects.

Wolbachia is relatively rare in Odonates (dragonflies and damselflies) and other aquatic insects, but recent work has suggested the presence of another similarly pervasive microbe. Our work has revealed that the bacterium Rickettsia is carried in 40% of midge species, and the Azure Damselfly (Coenargrion puella) can carry one or two strains of infection. Data suggests that Rickettsia is a common but underrepresented feature of freshwater invertebrates and our aim is to see how true this theory is.

Rimrose Valley – A year in the life of a threatened wildlife site.

Rimrose Valley canal (Barry Smith)

Rimrose Valley is a 3.5 km country park and valley in North Liverpool which provides a vital mosaic of habitats for wildlife in an urban built up area, it is a ‘green lung’ for the area and lies between Crosby and Litherland in the borough of Sefton.

The deeper I look the more I see what an amazing place it is and how important it is to preserve its existence – Not just for wildlife but also for the different communities that surround it. Hopefully this piece will do justice to its beauty, it won’t be filled with words and scientific information, I aim to provide a more visual guide to what I have found over a twelve month period.

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes May 2017

Drooping Star-of-Bethlehem (Dr Phil Smith)

Normally resilient plantlife took on a late-summer hue with straw-colours dominant as far as the eye could see. Fortunately, some light rain in the second half of the month improved conditions a little but many plants struggled. I estimated a 90% reduction in marsh-orchid flowers on the New Green Beach near Ainsdale compared with 2016. As usual, the TV weather presenters treated the slightest hint of rain as a national disaster. A letter from Oxford to the Radio Times said it all. “What kind on madness is it for weather forecasters to refer to the “threat” of rain, when we’ve had the driest spring for 20 years? Rivers are running dry, wildlife is threatened, farmers and gardeners are tearing their hair out ....”

What is a drought?

Drought (Hugh Harris)

Droughts are not very easy to define. A drought is not just a lack of water for a significant period. It is difficult to come up with a single definition as drought varies from place to place. A severe drought in the Indian monsoon, such as that during the 2002 season, can be caused by just a few weeks of deficit rainfall. In south-east Australia, rainfall amounts have been below normal for about a decade, leading to an extended drought which has affected farming practices and has led to a series of wildfires in populated areas. In the UK people say there is a hose-pipe ban if it doesn’t rain for 14 days! In fact, there are a whole range of types of drought including; agricultural (farming), meteorological (weather), hydrological (surface water) and socio-economic (ones which affect humans). 

Nominations open for the 2017 UK NBN Awards

Nominations have opened for the 2017 UK Awards for Biological Recording and Information Sharing!

Developed in 2015 by the National Biodiversity Network, the National Forum for Biological Recording and the Biological Records Centre, these annual Awards celebrate the individuals, the newcomers and the groups of people or organisations that are making outstanding contributions to biological recording and improving our understanding of the natural world in the UK.

There are six categories of awards this year:

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