Monday, 22 December 2014

The most viewed CEH news stories & blog posts of 2014

To round off the year, a little insight into the CEH news stories and blog posts you were reading the most in 2014 (in reverse order):

Top 10 most viewed news stories:


10: Notable persistent floodplain inundation - January 2014 Hydrological Summary for the UK
The year got off to a very wet start.

9: Adult vendace, Britain’s rarest freshwater fish, found in Bassenthwaite Lake
Good news in the late summer for British wildlife

8. City life key to harlequin ladybird invasion
Intriguing results from new ladybird research

7. Top 30 high risk invasive alien species with potential to threaten British biodiversity identified by scientists
CEH scientists led a horizon-scanning exercise of high risk invasive alien species.

6. Exceptional rainfall, floods and gales – February 2014 Hydrological Summary for the UK
News of heavy rain and storms continued to grip the nation.

5. Public help needed to map fungus infecting invasive ladybird
An appeal for help was well-received

4. Nitrogen on the table: pollution, climate and land use
A new report quantified for the first time how much our food choices affect pollutant nitrogen emissions, climate change and land use across Europe.

3. The Big Bumblebee Discovery: large-scale citizen science!
A citizen science project for schools met with enthusiasm

2. New free practical guide covers when and how to use citizen science for monitoring the environment
Citizen science again a popular topic for our readers

1. The recent storms and floods in the UK – new report
The extreme winter weather was the hot topic throughout the year.


Top 5 most viewed blog posts


5. Update on the UK hydrological situation
Demand for hydrological news was very high at the turn of the new year.

4. New iRecord Butterflies app available
The new app from CEH's Biological Records Centre working with University of Bristol and Butterfly Conservation colleagues was a big success.

3. Rainfall, UK floods and the potential impacts of climate change?
The severity of the winter weather posed several questions for our scientists.

2. UK butterfly statistics 2013 - the story behind the headlines
Delving deeper into the numbers produced by the long-term UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme

1. Record breakers? Climate change, statistics and the recent UK floods
More information on the Met Office and CEH report which looked at the 2013/14 winter weather.

You can read more about CEH research and news over the past twelve months in our annual review of the year on the CEH News Centre. Just a final thanks to all our contributors and, of course, to our readers. Happy Christmas and best wishes for the New Year!

Paulette Burns and Barnaby Smith

Thursday, 18 December 2014

2014 CEH photo competition winners

A recent tradition at CEH is an annual photo competition open to all our staff and students. The quality of entries this year has been fantastic. Here we share the 2014 winning images:

Landscape category

Light on a Lakeland Fell by Andrew Sier (Winner in Landscape category and overall winner):

Judges: "Lovely composition with excellent use of exposure, showing light at its best, and
conveying the power and majesty of the fells."

Sunset over the Alps by Eric Sauquet (Runner-up):

View from the Lac Fourchu (Grenoble, France)

Stepping Stones by Alan Lawlor (Third place)

On the River Duddon, English Lake District

Allium Flowers by Alan Lawlor (Fourth place)

Allium flowers, ancient woodland, Arnside and Silverdale AONB

Wildlife category

Grey Heron by Denise Pallett (Winner):

Judges: "Beautifully exposed, with great backlighting and
use of depth of field"

Nearest and Deerest by Richard Howells (Runner-up):

"Hog deer (Ciervo porcino), introduced from India into Victoria, Australia,
in 1858, are considered a pest by some, but they are a beautiful, shy
and illusive species. I took this photograph while hiking in a remote area of
Wilsons Promontory National Park, just after sunrise."

Seasonal Monarch of the Glen by Will Brownlie (Third place):

Photographed at 6am near The Devil's Point

Fox on My Allotment by Will Brownlie (Fourth place):

"This Fox comes and sits with me on my allotment from time to time"

Other categories

Searching for Rare Arable Weeds by Nadine Mitschunas (Commended in the CEH at work category)

CEH colleague Markus Wagner during fieldwork

Surveying the Swamps by Laurence Carvalho (Commended in the CEH at work category)

CEH collaborated with SNH and SEPA staff in a 24-hour BioBlitz
to mark Loch Leven's 50th anniversary as a National Nature Reserve

Frosty Footprints by Emma Brown (Commended in the Creative category)

Along the path in Padley Gorge, Peak District

Ox-eye Daisy by Nadine Mitschunas (Commended in the Creative category)

Ox-eye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) seen from below (insect view).

Well done to all our winning entrants and thanks to the staff and students from all four CEH sites who took part!

Friday, 12 December 2014

Potential climate change impacts: a global, multi-sectoral assessment

Recent graduate Anna Feeney is currently working at CEH, helping us to prepare content for our new website (more on that in the New Year!). Anna has been getting to know our science by reading some of the recent peer-reviewed outputs authored by CEH scientists. Here she describes one paper which caught her eye:

“A new paper recently published in the journal Climatic Change explores some future climate change scenarios, and translates projected changes in meteorological conditions into a range of different impacts that might affect the day-to-day lives of millions of people.

The work was led by Professor Nigel Arnell from the University of Reading. It uses a “pattern-scaling” technique to capture the main features of available climate models from around the world including the IMOGEN model developed by CEH’s Dr Chris Huntingford, who is also a co-author of the article. The research team used 21 climate models and four possible socio-economic tracks to examine a whole host of sectors such as water resources and agriculture.

According to the authors it is potentially one of the most multi-dimensional, wide-ranging studies into climate change impacts to date.

The four socio-economic pathways represent potential future societal habits, each taking into account possible changes in consumption patterns, socio-economic behaviour and corresponding levels of carbon emissions. After combining this information with the 21 different climate change models, changes to climate could be estimated at regional levels at three different milestones: 2020, 2050, and 2080.

Aerial views during an Army search and rescue mission show damage from Hurricane Sandy to the New Jersey coast, Oct. 30, 2012. US Air Force photo by Master Sgt Mark C Olsen (in public domain).

Under one projection for 2050, a sea level rise of 12-32cm is projected which could lead to about 450 million people potentially struggling with increased river flooding, about 1 billion other people possibly feeling increased water stress, and each year an extra 1.3 million of those living near the coast could be flooded.

The authors conclude that a planet that is on average 2.2C warmer would mean that more energy would be consumed in cooling efforts, although that increase in consumption would be offset by reduced need for heating during the colder seasons. Of particular note is that most areas would experience a fall in crop productivity, with implications for the global food supply chain.

A striking conclusion of the report is that, for many impacts, differences between driving climate models are actually more significant than the difference between the socio-economic forcing scenarios. This is mirrored in the IPCC reports, where although all models agree on at least some level of global warming, when it comes to expected changes in rainfall patterns (a key determinant for many impacts of concern) there are large parts of the world with very little agreement. It is hoped that increased data availability will be able to narrow down predictions of global water systems and that the overall uncertainty will eventually become much smaller.

For the present at least, however, adaptation policy determining how to live with climate change will have to keep in mind the complex nature of climate models and their current uncertainties, as well as the multiple potential scenarios based on how much fossil fuel is burnt in to the future.”

Anna Feeney

The open access paper can be read online.

Full paper reference: Arnell, N. W., Brown, S., Gosling, S. N., Gottschalk, P., Hinkel, J., Huntingford, C., ... & Zelazowski, P. (2014). The impacts of climate change across the globe: A multi-sectoral assessment. Climatic Change, 1-18. doi: 10.1007/s10584-014-1281-2

Staff page of Dr Chris Huntingford, CEH

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

CEH at the BES-SFE Joint Annual Meeting

The annual meeting of the British Ecological Society is a little different in 2014: for the first time, it joins up with the Société Française d’Ecologie for a joint conference.

The idea is to bring together ecologists from the two countries to promote exchange and debates and "strengthen cooperation between the French and British researchers of tomorrow". The meeting takes place at the Grand Palais in Lille, the capital of French Flanders, from 9-12 December 2014.

Scientists and students from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology are represented in a number of sessions, giving presentations and showcasing scientific posters on a range of topics including tree health, citizen science, agricultural ecology and climate change. Detailed information on all the talks and posters is available via the event app, although session and speaker names are outlined in the PDF programme.

You can also follow all the chat on Twitter with #BESSfe.

Wednesday 10 December 2014

Session: Macroecology, Biogeography and Landscape 

Nick Isaac presents on Butterfly abundance is determined by food availability mediated by species traits

Louise Barwell has a poster on Predicting species distributions at fine spatial scales

Session: Welcome to the dark side - Opportunities challenges and solutions for synthesizing global soil biodiversity
Rob Griffiths presents on Soil bacterial biogeography: using landscape scale surveys to predict and interpret local effects of land use change

Session: Generation and maintenance of genetic diversity in tropical forests

Stephen Cavers presents on Understanding genetic diversity in tropical tree species

Session: Long-term monitoring in agro-ecosystems

Marc Botham presents on The UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme: what can long-term monitoring tell us about the state of butterfly populations on farmland?
Session: Ecological Genetics and Molecular Ecology

Rory O’Connor (Phd student with the University of Leeds and CEH) has a poster on Habitat specialism and population genetics in the Adonis blue (Polyommatus bellargus) and Chalkhill blue butterflies (Polyommatus coridon): Higher specialism is associated with a more fragmented population structure

Thursday 11 December 2014

Session: Forest ecology

Nick Ostle (CEH Fellow) presents on Don’t mess with the moss! Boreal forest floor carbon cycling
Emma Sayer (Lancaster University) working with Lindsay Banin: Are Dipterocarps Different? The role of seedling traits in growth rates in Bornean tropical forests
Session: Infectious disease ecology and evolution

Susan Withenshaw presents on Experimental manipulation of Bartonella transmission within wild multi-host rodent communities

Session: Plant-pollinator interactions
Adam Vanbergen presents on Grazing alters insect visitation networks and plant mating systems
Session: Marine Ecology and Ecosystems

Sarah Burthe presents on Assessing the vulnerability of the marine bird community in the western North Sea to climate change and other anthropogenic impacts

Session: Conservation Ecology Management and Policy

Suzanna Mason has a poster on Change in rate of range expansion under climate change varies across taxonomic groups

Session: Plant-Soil Interactions and Biogeochemistry

Ben Jackson has a poster on Localized N2O emissions associated with actino rhizal nodules of black alder
Session: Food Webs, Networks and Complexity

Callum Macgregor (Phd with the University of Hull and CEH ) has a poster on How does light pollution affect nocturnal pollination interactions?

Friday 12 December 2014

Session: Global Change Ecology

Sabine Reinsch presents on High resolution of soil respiration measurements help model plant vs soil derived components of soil respiration under warmer and dryer conditions

Session: Ecological Implications of Tree Diseases

Lindsay Maskell presents on Tree diseases: Potential landscape changes

Michael Pocock presents on Monitoring to assess the impacts of tree diseases: integrating citizen science with professional monitoring

Session: Agricultural Ecology

Danny Hooftman presents on Enhancing environmental benefits from Agri-Environment schemes: an optimisation tool

Elwyn Sharps (Phd with Bangor University and CEH) presents on Agriculture, nest predation and trampling by livestock: Even light grazing of salt marshes causes high rates of nest mortality in Common Redshank Tringa tetanus

Session: Celebrating Citizen Science

Helen Roy presents on Celebrating 50 years of the Biological Records Centre

Jodey Peyton presents on Open Farm Sunday Pollinator Survey: Citizen science as a tool for pollinator monitoring?

Session: Invasive Species

Steven White presents on Modelling the spread of Xylella fastidiosa in Puglia, Italy

Session: Climate Change Ecology

Tom Oliver presents on High intensity land use inhibits the ability of communities to track climate warming

Session: Consumer-Resource Interactions

Sara Ball presents on Size matters: body size determines functional response of ground beetle interactions

Session: Biodiversity and Ecosystem Function

Susan Jarvis presents on Species richness-productivity relationships in UK vascular plants

Good luck to all those taking part!

Related links

Storify of CEH activity at #BESSfe

British Ecological Society 2014 Annual Meeting

The Opera House in Lille, the capital of French Flanders