For the past two days I have started, and finished recurating the British Acroceridae Collection. Wow, you must be thinking, that young Erica is fast! Recurating an entire family in two days; updating the nomenclature, bar coding and databasing the specimens, and then rehousing into modern museum standard unit trays. Well, a slight confession is that there are only three species found in the UK.
Here’s a blog from Jordan, who is currently a Bachelor student at the University of Reading, who took a summer placement with us here in the beetle section of the Museum.
Deadly predators. Venomous machines. Stealth assassins. Yes, it’s the robber flies, or assassin flies if you’re from across the pond. These beautiful, lethal creatures are, to my mind, some of the most amazing species on the planet, with not only some amazing adaptations to their predatory lifestyle but also exhibiting a great morphological variety – including some of the most hirsute insects on the planet.
The Arctic is warming at rates more than twice the global average, and much larger changes are projected for high northern latitudes by the end of this century. In our project we study freshwater microbiology to identify sentinel microbiome properties of northern freshwater environments that can be used to improve surveillance of Arctic ecosystem health in the face of these increasing climate perturbations. The project is funded by funded by a UK-Canadian partnership bursary and in collaboration with researchers from Laval University and Centre for Northern Studies (CEN) – and is part of Sentinel North.
Of particular importance are cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, as they are keystone primary producers, contributors of bioavailable nitrogen, drivers of food webs and carbon cycling in Arctic freshwater ecosystems. However, little is known about their biodiversity in the Canadian Arctic. I therefore, visited Canada this August to carry out field work and collect samples from freshwater environments such as lakes, ponds and streams to carry out DNA sequencing analysis of the freshwater microbiology.
The film below gives you a glimpse into the working life of seaweed researcher Prof. Juliet Brodie. Juliet is the lead researcher on the Big Seaweed Search project and part of the team that created the beautiful new seaweed display in the Museum’s Hintze Hall.
You can meet Juliet and the team this Friday evening at the Museum’s free Science Uncovered event, part of European Researchers’ Night, but in the meantime, I interviewed Juliet to find out more about what really makes her tick and what got her into studying seaweeds in the first place… Continue reading “Scuba diving, singing and seaweeds: Meet museum scientist Juliet Brodie | Big Seaweed Search”
We have now finished digitising the Museum’s main parasitic louse slide collection – consisting of ~73,000 slides. We are sharing these openly with the global scientific community on the Museum’s Data Portal. Continue reading “Lice taking over the land and the ocean | Digital Collections Programme”
We have started digitising the Madagascan moths and butterflies, a project that has been supported by John Franks and the Charles Wolfson Charitable Trust.
This project is different from our previous Lepidoptera digitisation as it is only looking at type specimens.
A type specimen (or in some cases a group of specimens) is an example specimen on which the description and name of a new species is based.
This week’s #NHM_Live featured the snakes of our collections in South Kensington, SW7. Joining host Alison Shean was Jeff Streicher, Curator of Amphibians and Reptiles, who showed off some of the serpent specimens and shared with us fascinating facts including what it is – exactly – that makes a snake a snake.
This was the final episode of #NHM_Live in this current series, but we will be back for a new series soon. In the meantime catch up with all the episodes and leave us review in iTunes. To hear more about our collections and the new episodes in the next series, be sure to follow @NHM_London on Twitter.
Jan Beccaloni, Curator of Arachnida was with host David Urry to show you some spidery specimens. From their ‘scary movement’ and the impacts of climate change on the species being found in Britain through to the dancing of the peacock spiders, Jan was on hand to answer questions about the world of web slingers during the latest #NHM_Live.
Having discovered spiders are amazing, not terrifying, next week we’ll be bringing out the (really) big fish with Emma Bernard, Curator of Fossil Fish, so join us on Facebook or Twitter at 12.30 BST on Thu 10 Aug for our next episode of #NHM_Live.
If you are enjoying #NHM_Live, please leave us a review on iTunes because it really helps others to find the podcast.
P.S. Follow @NHM_Arachnida on Twitter for more about spiders and other arachnids.
Today’s blog is in honour of the great microscopist Robert Hooke. Born on 18 July 1685 (which is actually the 28 July today due to the shift to the Gregorian calendar in Britain in 1752), Robert Hooke – although not as famous as some of his counterparts such as Sir Christopher Wren and Sir Isaac Newton – was to have a huge impact on the scientific community. He was a curious individual, always observing, noting, and drawing what he saw. This drive and curiosity resulted in this ‘caulkhead’ (native of the Isle of Wight, UK) producing in 1665 at the tender age of 30 years, one of my favorite books – ‘Micrographia or Some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies Made by Magnifying Glasses with Observations and Inquiries thereupon’.
Not the snappiest of subtitles, I concur, but contained within the pages of this book are some of the earliest but arguably still scientifically important drawings/diagrams of life as seen under a microscope.