Grass ID in Leazes Park

How better to spend a sunny spring afternoon, as a break from assignments, than to learn how to identify grass vegetatively? Oh and we slipped a few lichen surveys in too. My son does not believe that the students are actually enjoying themselves, but they couldn’t be happier. (Edit: actually he did, but only when he thought they were having a picnic.)

Adam’s work on pollen at Greenleighton

Adam Rodgers analysed a pollen core at Greenleighton Mire a couple of years ago as part of a 3rd year module. He carried out all the work independently. Abi from the National Park read his paper with interest and asked if it could be published. I thought I would at least add his pollen diagram to my bog blog. Meanwhile I am looking into plioting an online student journal scheme with our students, so maybe we can publish the entire paper. If you would like to see the article, then please contact me.

Lichen Survey – Citizen Science

Janet taught us (the MSc students and others) a handful of lichens that live on trees. With the help of a trusty app we have been racing to record lichens on trees throughout the northeast. The map gives the survey locations to date. I suspect Ray currently has the record for being most obsessed, but I have a (un)healthy fascination with the map – which can be accessed via the link below. . Photo by Carol Ross, a much better  photographer than I.

If you want to get involved – I can put you in touch with Dr Janet Simkin, the creator of the survey.

Job news from students

What an amazing week for jobs.

Adam – who graduated in summer from the MEnv in Ecosystem Management got offered two jobs this week: one with a government agency, the other with an environmental consultancy. He says he has finally worked out how to do job interviews using the STAR technique.

Phil (on pic) on MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Ecosystem Management has landed himself a work experience over the summer in Iceland surveying arctic foxes. Wow – how cool is that? Then I believed he’s looking at birds on Lindisfarne, which though voluntary is highly competitive.

And Ellie (on pic), also on that course, has been offered the Coastal Care traineeship – an amazing opportunity to build skills. She said our careers event in November helped her so much with applications and interviews, along with Janet’s trip to the Whinsill – as she will be managing a bit of that very grassland.

And then there’s Phoebe and Jackson who are finishing off our MEnv program and are already set up with jobs. Jackson got an Environmental Consultancy position and an offer with his current placement while Phoebe has landed a place on Nuclear Graduates scheme.

3rd Year Literature Posters

The 3rd years chose any topic for their literature review- as long as it related to Environmental Science – and any means of communication. John chose to include some primary data collection in collaboration with Gibside National Trust. These are some of the posters. Others chose presentations or leaflets. Hoping for a video or website perhaps next year.

Botanical Monitoring Methods for the MSc

The MSc Ecological Consultants, Wildlife Consevation and Biodiversity and Conservation students have been thinking about how best to monitor botanical species when carrying out research projects to detect change. How accurate is estimating percent cover by eye? Are there alternatives? Is it ok to use DOMIN? Also improving botanical skills. Then working out how to enter and manipulate data efficiently in Excel – but I didn’t get any pics in the computer room – not sure why!

I think Ray is doing all the hard work while Phil is just relaxing listening to the meadow pipits and skylarks …I assume they are taking turns.

Jatavia and Yuqian are taking a moment to pose for the camera while Ke continues to identify the moorland species

First years building up field skills

Just finishing off the podzol soil profile – they might even be enjoying themselves

Testing the water quality – samples from the Ouseburn

Tufa dam – a rare sight for Northumberland – a site for future field trip that I’ve been checking out with Paul from Natural England and James from Nafferton

The first year Environmental Science and Earth Science and Countryside Managers and Rural Studies have been making the most of the not too bad weather and been learning about soil profiles, water quality, Land Use Capability and water quantity – with more to come after Easter when they do some botany and develop their own research projects… watch this space.