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Environmental and Animals Blog

Environmental and Animals Blog

Environmental and Animals Blog

The world is in dire need of more conservationists. Is it a well paid profession? No. Is it difficult to get paid work? Yes. Are those working in conservation or ecology some of the most experienced, highly qualified workforce out there? Yes. If you're reading this and you still get a little thrill of excitement imagining yourself working in conservation, then keep reading! This article is for you.


What does a Conservationist do?

Conservation is a vast field that encompasses many different disciplines and types of work. A conservationist can find themselves working alone, in a small team or a vast network of other...


So far in this series we have looked at the pesticides used today, the pesticides banned since World War II, and the first industrial chemical pesticides. In this final post, I want to tell a less well-known story: how pest control functioned before the modern period, especially in medieval and early modern Europe. Chemical pesticides were one of the least relevant aspects of pest control in this period, so this post will also describe physical, cultural and biological pest control. Although the pest control methods used in this period were unreliable and unscientific by today’s standards, they still have some interesting lessons...

In previous posts, I told the story of today’s controversial pesticides, and then went back to describe the pesticides famously banned since World War II like DDT, dieldrin, the organophosphates and the neonics. In this post, I’m going to describe how the first modern European pesticides were discovered, marketed and produced on an industrial scale. This is the story of sulphur, copper and (chillingly) arsenic.


Of the three big chemicals sulphur (American English ‘sulfur’) was perhaps the first to be recognised and used regularly (Zadoks, 2013; Frank and Conover, 2015). It was, arguably, the first reliable pesticide of Europe. It...


In the middle of the twentieth century the public view of pesticides was very positive (Mart, 2015, pp. 11–30). These chemicals were seen as holding the potential to cure world hunger and make agriculture more profitable. Efficient insecticides in particular were seen offering a revolution in agricultural practice, and could also be used to help eradicate mosquitoes, which carried diseases that killed millions of people each year. However, over the course of the last century, the use of pesticides led to environmental disasters and threats to human health. In my first post in this series, I looked at the pesticides...

Pesticides, herbicides and fungicides (generally considered together as ‘pesticides’ or informally as ‘chemicals’) have a long and controversial history.On the one hand, we need them to keep towns and streets pest-free to 21st century standards, and they also have an often-overlooked, vital environmental function in protecting our National Parks from invasive species like Rhododendron.On the other hand, over the last five hundred years they have also caused significant damage to the health of humans, wildlife and ecosystems. This is the first of a series of posts in which I’m going to take a more historical view of pesticides. I’m going...

Rhododendron is a very popular genus of shrubs for gardens due to its clusters of flowers, which can cover the surface of the shrub, most often in spring. They are generally evergreen (except the deciduous Azaleas) and the individual flowers are concave (tubular, funnel, trumpet or saucer shaped) with long filaments (unlike flatter Hydrangeas). They tend to only grow well in acidic soils and will change colour depending on the pH. At least 500 species from across four continents have been cultivated, and thousands of cultivars have been bred (Brickell, 1996, p. 868). The first known cultivated Rhododendron species was Rhododendron...

Sophia McDonald, a wildlife tour guide in Scotland, took an Ornithology course with us over the last few months and recently completed the course with flying colours! She tells us a little bit about her course experience and what she has gained from the qualificaiton.

To me birds are endlessly fascinating and I wanted to learn more about them. I wanted to achieve a certificate of study to prove that I do know something about my subject. The course has given me more in depth bird knowledge and this gives me some credence when I am telling people about birds during my job as a wildlife guide. I often get asked what my qualifications...

The areas of pollination, self and cross pollination, frequently occur across many topics in horticulture so we thought we'd explain how this works. We recommend reading this in conjunction with 'F1 Hybrids and Other Hybrid Matters' and 'The Importance of Pollination for Top Crop and Fruit Breeders'.


What is Pollination?

Pollination is said to have occurred when the pollen grain (containing the male gamete) lands on and is accepted by the stigma. The stigma of flowers are generally large organs and so will receive many pollen grains which land on them from the anther or are deposited by insects. However, to ensure only the...


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