Our new gardens will be a biologically diverse hot spot for urban nature in the heart of London. One of the main features of our gardens has been the wildlife pond, which has supported a diverse range of wildlife from moorhens, aquatic plants and an important assemblage of dragonflies and damselflies.
As part of the Urban Nature Project, we’re removing the old pond liner which was at the end of its lifespan and taking the opportunity to expand the pond area so it can be home to even more urban wildlife for years to come.
In September 2022 we started this process by carefully moving as much of the pond flora and fauna as possible from our old pond into a new temporary pond in front of the Waterhouse building. The large temporary pond was created to ensure that the species living in our original pond had somewhere to live before being moved back to the new pond in spring 2023.
We spoke to Sam Thomas (UK Biodiversity Officer) to find out more about how our pond life is faring.
It’s now been six months since the temporary pond was filled on our front lawn. We have one main pond which has silt, sediment, marginal plants, aquatic plants and fauna from our old wildlife pond. We also have two additional holding tanks filled with spare water from the old pond, which has all the beneficial micro-organisms needed for a healthy pond environment. We also have one more much smaller pond dedicated to our juvenile newt population, that we’re calling the newt spa! Adult newts are mainly terrestrial during the winter months, so they’re happily resting in a specially fenced off area of the gardens while work continues.
Temporary ponds aren’t widely used for the storage and translocation of living biodiversity which makes this trial an exciting opportunity to learn more about how this method works.
We’re pleased to say that the temporary pond seems to have been a great success so far, the main pond is thriving with plenty of promising signs of a healthy balanced aquatic environment.
Here are some of our top finds recently, that indicate our temporary pond is proving to be a very happy stop-gap home for our pond flora and fauna.
Pond Olive – Cloeon dipterum – a mayfly species we spotted during some pond-dipping
Great Ramshorn Snail – Planorbarius corneus – in abundance and seen grazing on algae on the side of the pond
Blue-tailed Damselfly – Ischnura elegans – their larvae were plentiful during pond dipping
Water Hog-louse – Asellus aquaticus – lots of these can be seen on the inside of the pond liner
This spring we’re excited to take the next step in the process, when the new pond will be ready to receive all this valued aquatic life. Stay tuned to hear more about this.
In this blog, we’re looking at a recent paper that cited some of our data in investigating the conservation potential of protected areas of rainforest using data on the Woolly monkey (Lagothrix lagothricha).
Comparing the surviving fossil mammal specimens collected by Charles Darwin during the Voyage of the Beagle with original drawings and casts of the specimens from 1837-1840, it is clear that some have sustained significant damage in the 185 years since they were collected.
On 13 July 2017 the Museum unveiled Hope the blue whale, a spectacular 25-metre-long specimen suspended from the ceiling of the Museum’s central space, Hintze Hall.
Just after the BBC broadcast their Horizon documentary about the new installation, Dippy and the Whale, Richard Sabin, Principal Curator of Mammals, and Lorraine Cornish, Head of Conservation, joined host David Urry for a special #NHM_Live talking about the history, conservation and story behind Hope, direct from our new Whales: Beneath the surface exhibition.
If you are a resident of the UK and you missed Horizon: Dippy and the Whale, see it on BBC iPlayer: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08y3s55 until mid-August. If you are enjoying this #NHM_Live series please don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review on iTunes.
The Museum’s conservators were the stars of our second broadcast in the first #NHM_Live series, where we took a look at how they repair and maintain the millions of specimens in the collections.
Camilla Tham and Alison Shean were joined by conservators Arianna Bernucci and Cheryl Lynn to talk about mummified cats, Archaeopteryx, 1.3 kg of dust from a single specimen and some of the major specimens that will feature in the upcoming #Whales: Beneath the Surface exhibition.
It has been several months since my last post looking at blue whale on the move but finally the long process of cleaning and conserving each individual bone has been successfully completed and the conservators are now just embarking on surface scanning the bones in high definition. Conservation can be an extremely slow process but it is worth the time and effort. During the past 9 months the team have cleaned and conserved over 220 individual bones. This equates to over 110m2 of whale bone surface area.
During this time we also planned the final position and articulation of the whale for its suspension in Hintze Hall so the armature design could commence. This post outlines the conservation treatment and articulation planning phase of this project.
The Library holds a vast collection of literature covering all branches of the natural sciences. We collect this material to support the ground breaking science carried out in the Museum. To ensure we continue to support this research, we are constantly adding to our collections.
Over the past year, the Library purchased over one thousand books and subscribed and maintained access to hundreds of serials (journals, magazines and other items published in successive parts) both print and electronic. In addition to purchasing titles, we received hundreds more books and serials as gifts from other institutions and in exchange for our own material. New and existing collections need to be processed, cared for and maintained… and that’s where the Library’s Modern Collections team comes in.
Although it’s only been a few weeks since I looked at ‘what lies beneath,’ it feels like a lifetime as so much has happened to our blue whale skeleton in a relatively short space of time. The biggest challenge of de-installing the skeleton from the Mammals Hall has been completed with resounding success and the Conservators are now busy with the next phase of cleaning and conserving each individual bone.
We all knew that safely removing the bones from the 81 year old armature was not going to be easy. Add in the fact that it was suspended over a large model of a blue whale and several other specimens with very little room for manoeuvre and you start to appreciate the whale-sized nature of the project. This post outlines what happened during the de-install.
The next of our new trainees to introduce themselves is Katy Potts. Katy is a keen entomologist and has volunteered with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and most recently with our own Coleoptera department before joining the traineeship programme:
I have been an amateur entomologist for the past 3 years and I am passionate about all aspects of wildlife, but particularly things with six legs. I recently graduated from Plymouth University where I studied Conservation Biology, since I graduated I have been keen to gain more knowledge in the identification of UK wildlife with particular focus on conservation. I am very interested in all aspects of wildlife but I am fascinated with insects, I find their morphology, behaviour and evolution extremely interesting.
Over the last four years I have been involved with public engagement events with Opal and Buglife where we ran invertebrate surveys and BioBlitz projects to encourage the public to become interested in their local wildlife. I was also involved with a pollinator survey run by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology that involved me surveying for hoverflies and bumblebees on Dartmoor and then identifying specimens to species level. This survey ignited my passion for identification further and I engaged in entomological and recording communities to develop my understanding.