Summer Sessions – Bees



As August 15th was world honey bee day we thought we’d celebrate these tiny pillars of civilisation (as well as see how many ‘Bee’ puns we can fit in one blog)! Scientists and students at the Centre for Ecology and Conservation and the Environmental Sustainability Institute are studying many aspects of honey bees and wild bees, and are passionate about working with bee keepers, conservationists, and the public to protect these crucial pollinators.


Life wouldn’t be as sweet without bees

In this article, Zoology BSc student Tom Ridgeon explains why we all rely on bees, and what the heavy cost would be if we were to lose them. Life Nature Magazine is created by students from the University of Exeter and Falmouth University studying at the Penryn campus in Cornwall. Their aims are to exhibit student photography and art as well as sharing stories and news about our natural world.

Meet Our Scientists

Bee populations are struggling in our modern farmed landscape, and Prof. Juliet Osborne’s team works to try to understand the myriad of reasons behind the declines. We’re passionate about doing research that benefits the world, so we work hand in hand with local partners to solve the ecological problems they face. Watch the below video showing how research published in the most prestigious journals also helps local beekeepers, farmers, and businesses in Cornwall.


It’s rare to find anyone nowadays who doesn’t realise how important bees are, and even the Queen is getting in on the action! Watch how our scientists are tracking honey bees at Buckingham Palace to see which habitats they like to collect pollen from…



Happy to Bee at Penryn!

Photo Credit: Jess Knapp – Buff-tailed bumblebee



Lewis Bartlett is a PhD student at the Centre for Ecology and Conservation studying the diseases that affect honey bees. In this podcast he explains his lifelong obsession with bees, and how that led him to study the evolution of bee pathogens in the UK and USA. The Natural Selection Podcast is run by students to bring listeners cutting-edge research from the Centre for Ecology and Conservation.



Spreading the word about bees

Photo Credit: Jess Knapp – Red-tailed bumblebee

Check out some of the amazing outreach materials our undergraduates on the Science in Society module have made to help everyone understand why bees are so important and fascinating. Science in Society is a level 3 undergraduate module in which students study what society wants from scientists, and how scientists can engage different parts of society in research. As a final assignment, students produce an outreach project that engages the public in cutting-edge scientific research. Some of these projects are so good that we wanted to share them here.


All you need to do is Bee-lieve

Freya Bolton has put together a blog, Eco-enlightenment, for those who suffer from eco-anxiety, feeling anxious about the environment and climate change. Given the mainstream media’s predominantly negative coverage of the environment, the blog and Instagram account are a sanctuary for those who want to read about overlooked positive environmental news. You can read about how pesticides affect bees, and about how your garden can help protect them. Instagram:


Bee a Wild Explorer

This summer take a younger child, sibling, niece, nephew, or friend on an adventure into the garden! Zoology student Rosie Buckley’s booklet is full of activities for children to learn about the wild places in the local park or back garden, and to conserve wildlife as well!



Betsy Bee


Trying to entertain children on a rainy day? Try this pollinator activity book by BSc student Ellen Knight (@ehvknight). Betsy Bee will tell you all about her friends and how you can help them. Click on each picture to enlarge.


Saving the bees

Photo Credit: Jess Knapp – Wild Flower Tramlines


Pesticides, habitat loss, and invasive parasites. These are some of the threats that honey bees and wild bees face in today’s world. Our staff and students have been at the forefront of research to understand and reduce these threats. Read about how the impressively named Varroa destructor mite spreads viruses from honey bee hives to bumblebees. Prof. Chris Bass’ team has figured out how bee enzymes can identify which chemicals are toxic to bees, so that pesticides can be made bee-friendly. Dr Grace Twiston-Davies is working with Buglife to create rivers of wildflowers across Cornwall’s countryside connecting the county’s best wildlife sites from coast to coast.


Bee hunters!

Asian hornets are an invasive species spreading throughout Europe, and they prey on honeybees and other pollinators. Adult Asian hornets “hawk” at beehives, hovering outside to grab bees, which they dismember and feed to hornet larvae. In 2018 the first nests were found on mainland UK and scientists from Penryn are being called on to find and eradicate Asian hornet nests. Watch the amazing footage in this video that explains how to find a hidden hornet nest, and read more here. (video here:

Dr Peter Kennedy from the Environment and Sustainability Institute and the BEEHAVE group is about to set off for his field trip to Jersey…

This converted Land Rover Battlefield Ambulance is now a mobile field lab that will join the States of Jersey Department of Environment and Jersey Asian Hornet Volunteer Group. Their research involves tracking down the hidden nests and understanding the impact of this invasive non-native species on our native insect fauna!


Summer Sessions – Cats and Dogs


Welcome to Week 6 of our Centre for Ecology and Conservation Summer Sessions. Cats and dogs are some of the world’s most impressive creatures in the wild and adorable companions in our homes! Penryn’s Centre for Ecology and Conservation teaches the Biosciences undergraduate and MSc programmes, and our staff and students learn about and research cats and dogs all over the world, including close to home. Here we’re sharing some of their experiences working with wild and domesticated cats and dogs, including a recording of a live chat with our scientists in Penryn and Kenya, who try to conserve lions in places where they live side by side with humans.


Webinar and Q&A – Lions and the Maasai

We often see images of lions proudly surveying the open savannah, and sadly we sometimes read reports about these amazing animals being killed by local people. Lions and humans living side by side is a reality in many parts of Africa, yet, it’s less common to hear the story of the farmers who share their land with the lions, and may well lose their cattle to lions. Inspired by teaching on our MSc field course to Kenya, Dr Tom Currie began working with PhD student Enoch Ontiri to understand why lions and humans sometimes come into conflict. Hear what they have to say about how helping communities to protect their cattle could help both lions and humans, and how community engagement in conservation can protect wildlife and improve lives.




Cats at Home

Cats provide millions of us with companionship, amusement, and their unique brand of indifferent affection. Cats are also still kept, especially in rural areas, to keep rats and mice out of our houses. However, the same hunting prowess that makes cats helpful allies might also be a problem, as ‘outdoor’ cats can kill wild birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles. Aside from the unpleasantness of dead and half-dead animals being brought through the cat flap, wildlife organisations and cat owners are concerned that domestic cats may be contributing to national declines in small bird populations. Read what BBC Wildlife Magazine has to say about our research on this here.

Dr Sarah Crowley and PhD student Martina Cecchetti are leading a research project to reduce the number of birds caught by cats, and to find out how cat owners could be encouraged to help. Read more on the project and watch the video below…



Living with Lions


Ever wonder what it’s like to live alongside wild lions? Hear from PhD student Enoch Ontiri about some of the difficulties that can arise for farmers and lions when they share the same land, and his innovative solutions. The Natural Selection Podcast is run by students to bring listeners cutting-edge research from the Centre for Ecology and Conservation.

You can also read about Enoch’s research, which finds that Maasai farmers only kill lions when they attack livestock.

Our MSc students learn about the interactions between farmers and wildlife as part of their fieldcourse to Kenya. Read about their experience here.



Climbing the social ladder is a ruff business for dogs, new research shows. The Centre for Ecology and Conservation is world-renowned for its research on social behaviour in wild animals, and now scientists have branched out into domesticated dogs. Read about how dogs learn where they stand in the pecking order, and avoid fighting over food and mates here.



Diseases that we share with our dogs


Guinea worm is a horrible disease that used to affect millions of people in Africa and Asia, and is now almost eradicated. However, it’s recently been realised that Guinea worm lives in dogs as well, and that dogs can transmit the disease to humans. Our students and staff have been studying free-ranging domestic dogs in Chad and Ethiopia to find out how dogs catch Guinea worm, and how we can eradicate the disease for good. You can read PhD student Jared Wilson-Aggarwal’s take on the project, or visit the project’s home page. Warning, some of the photos might make you shiver!



Hungry Lynx

One of our final year undergraduate field courses goes to the Yukon Territory in Canada. It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn about one of the most beautiful and enigmatic cats on the planet, the Canada lynx, and understand the delicate balance between lynx and their prey, the snowshoe hare. In 2019 lynx were at the peak of their 10-year population cycle, and one seemed so desperate to find hares that it lost any fear of humans and walked straight past one of our students. Luckily Jodie had her phone to hand and captured the video below! You can find out what else we do on the field course here.

If you want to see what it’s like to hunt a snowshoe hare, try playing Where is the Hare?, a game designed by former undergraduate and recent MByRes student Charlotte Jeffers, to study camouflage in a changing climate.


Summer Sessions – Primate Week


This week the Centre for Ecology and Conservation is celebrating our research and teaching about primates. Keep reading to find out more about some of our closest living relatives!

#WorldChimpanzeeDay Webinar!

Chimpanzee detected by arboreal camera trap in Cantanhez. Photo credits below to Early Career Researcher Hellen Bersacola in Kim’s research group.

Dr Kim Hockings, her students and collaborators from Oxford, celebrated #WorldChimpanzeeDay on 14th July. Throughout the day they shared their videos on chimp behaviours, such as tool use, food sharing, play, as well as discussing the threats chimps face and the ways in which conservation can help. They also celebrated the vital role local research assistants play across Africa in improving our understanding of chimpanzee behaviour and how to protect chimpanzees and their habitat. The team collaborated with the University of Oxford Primate Models for Behavioural Evolution Lab and The Bulindi Chimpanzee & Community Project on Friday 17th July and hosted a live Q&A in celebration of the event, which you can watch below.




Student Primate Encounters

Samantha Salt is an MSc student (and former undergraduate) in the CEC, studying the biodiversity of Cantanhez NP, one of the last chimpanzee strongholds in Guinea-Bissau. She’s put together this fantastic film showcasing the amazing encounters our undergraduate and masters students have had with primates on University of Exeter field courses and expeditions.

Voiceovers: Ben Toulson, Bethany Pihama, Cassie Chanin, Eleanor Hackett, Ellie Stockwell, Kingsley Hunt, Samantha Salt, Tommy Travers-Cook
Photos and videos: Amy Cook, Cameron Goodhead, Cassie Chanin, Eleanor Hackett, Jeffrey Chan, Katie Smith, Kingsley Hunt, Samantha Salt


Orangutan Research Projects

Gara by Abi Gwynn


Abi Gwynn is currently completing a Masters By Research in the CEC. After being a part of a research expedition to Borneo in the summer of 2017, she knew she had to go back to contribute to the protection of probably the most famous animal in Borneo, the orangutan. So she devised a research project to understand the effects of how fire, one of the least-studied but most imminent threats, on orangutans in Central Kalimantan. Read about her research here. See some of Abi’s amazing photos below!


Fio by Abi Gwynn


Cameron Goodhead is following up his undergraduate degree in the CEC with a Masters by Research with us as well. He’s studying how to best use drones to survey wild orangutan populations in Borneo. You can read more about his research in this interview.




Baboons with Squeaky Clean Teeth

One of our MSc students, Charlotte Morgan, has been watching baboons floss their teeth with broom bristles, their own hair, and even hair from each other’s faces. It’s thought that the baboons don’t just want squeaky clean teeth, but that the behaviour might be an important social interaction. Charlotte has been studying how baboons learn to floss from each other, and finds that some baboons are better learners than others. Read about her research here.


The Human Primate

Humans, Homo sapiens, are fascinating primates! Our scientists have been studying how humans think, behave, and make decisions. The CEC’s Professor Alex Mesoudi has been talking to the BBC about the wisdom of crowds – the idea that collective judgements lead to the right solution. Alex has also been studying cross-cultural psychology: how the culture a person comes from can fundamentally affect the way they process the world. Read about his work revealing how immigrants and their children have their thinking shaped by the culture in which they’ve settled.


Alcohol and Our Primate Ancestors

Alcohol tolerance may have saved our primate ancestors from extinction, suggests a book co-edited by the CEC’s Dr Kim Hockings. Even today we see great apes eating fermented fruit and even drinking palm wine produced by humans. The reason may lie 10 million years in our past. Read more here.


Listen to a newly discovered primate species!


Galagoides kumbirensis is a dwarf galago discovered by the CEC’s Dr Hellen Bersacola in Angola in 2013, along with colleagues at the Nocturnal Primate Research Group (NPRG), Oxford Brookes University.

The loud calls of galagos have unique species characteristics and that of G. kumbirensis starts similar to other dwarf galagos with a crescendo, but then it ends in a “twitter”. This species is also unusually large compared to other species in the same genus.  Listen to the call here!


Primates in the Pet Trade

Tamsin Harper, who has just graduated with a BSc in Zoology and continues to stay with us for her MRes, recently published a poignant comic to communicate to younger audiences, the plight of primates in the UK pet trade. The project has been given to the WildFutures Primate Santuary for use in their campaigns. You can read her comic here.

Summer Sessions – Plastic Pollution


Welcome to Week 2 of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation’s Summer Sessions. This week’s theme is Plastic Pollution, in support of the Plastic Free July movement. Marine plastic pollution is particularly close to our hearts as we’re lucky enough to be surrounded by the ocean in Cornwall, and many of us have made it our lives work to study the sea. The CEC is doing so much research and teaching around plastics that it’s been hard to decide what to share! This is a very sad topic, and some of our research has shown just how bad the problem is, but we’ve also been working hard to help reverse the damage and change behaviours. So read on to learn more about the problem and what can be done.



Plastic Pollution Webinar and Live Q&A

Watch Professor Brendan Godley and team give a webinar and Q&A all about the plastic pollution research from our students and research staff!

Summer Sessions – Plastic Pollution

Welcome to our Summer Session on Plastic Pollution! Hear from Professor Brendan Godley about the impacts that plastic pollution has on the marine environment. You will also be introduced to a team of our former students who will be LIVE after this video to answer your questions! If you have anything you would like to ask, comment below! Please share widely!

Posted by University of Exeter Centre for Ecology & Conservation on Friday, 10 July 2020


Plastic Ingestion in Sea Turtles

It’s really important to us in the CEC that our research is heard by everyone, not just scientific experts. Dr Emily Duncan has made a video abstract of her recent paper on sea turtle ingestion of plastics, which you may have seen featured on numerous TV interviews. Video abstract is available here. Emily was recently chosen for the Forbes 30 Under 30 in Science and Healthcare, an incredible achievement. You can read more about Emily’s research and see the full list here.


Shark Entanglement

With so much plastic floating around, it’s no surprise that it finds its way into the food webs of marine ecosystems. Our newsfeeds are battered by reports of stranded marine animals whose stomachs are littered with plastics. However, we rarely hear about sharks. MRes and former undergraduate student Kristian Parton tells us how hundreds of sharks and rays have become tangled in plastic waste in the world’s oceans in a video here.




Queen’s Anniversary Prize

Billy Heaney (former CEC undergraduate and now Masters By Research student) recently made a film about the Queens Anniversary Prize awarded to the University for plastic research. Along with colleagues from PML, Exeter researchers were commended for their work on the effects of marine plastic pollution, especially the effects of micro and nano-plastics – tiny plastic particles less than 1mm in length. The team’s research has visibly impacted governmental decision making, for example contributing to the 2018 UK ban on microbeads in cosmetics. Research by the team has also shed light on the presence of plastic in the food chain, finding trace levels of bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in the production of plastic, in 86% of Devon teenagers.

Queens Anniversary Prize for Higher Education

Please share widely! Today, on #WorldOceansDay, we celebrate the recent receipt of the Queen's Anniversary Prize For Higher Education (2019) for our research on the impacts of plastic pollution on the marine environment. This highly collaborative work has spanned the campuses and has been facilitated by a large number of partners, particularly Greenpeace UK Research Laboratories and Plymouth Marine Laboratory. Funding has been diverse, but key has been the Natural Environment Research Council, which has sponsored many of the PhD students who are featured in the film. The film was made by ExeterMarine graduate, Billy Heaney and Muddy Duck Productions.

Posted by ExeterMarine on Monday, 8 June 2020


Beach Guardian

Beach Guardian was co-founded by CEC’s MSc Student Emily Stevenson. Her Community Interest company organises community beach cleans and conducts educational workshops with schools and other groups to connect people with the environment to improve the health and wellbeing of both people and planet. Their Facebook page runs a weekly vlog, Tune in Tuesday, which has just turned 100! Emily recently won ‘The Diana Award’. Established in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, The Diana Award is the highest accolade a young person can achieve for social action or humanitarian efforts.


Plastic Wave Documentary

A Plastic Wave is a powerful documentary by James Roberts, a surf photographer, business owner and father of two who is seeing more and more plastic wash ashore his beloved home beach. In a bid to discover the route of this problem he embarks on a journey of discovery, and along the way he talks to the CEC’s Dr Sarah Nelms (who did her MSc, PhD, and is now a post-doc with us) about poo and guts.


Scientists at Sea Podcast

ExeterMarine’s Scientists at Sea podcast features some of our department’s world-leading science in marine ecology and conservation. Here is one our favourites:

    • CEC MRes students Flora Rendell, Lowenna Jones, and Daniel Osmond joined the Sail Against Plastic team aboard the Blue Clipper to investigate the impact of plastics and noise pollution on the arctic seas around Svalbard. The team produced film, photography and artwork to capture the experience and illustrate their findings. ExeterMarine’s Scientists and Sea podcast interviewed our students before and after their expedition. Listen here, you can also watch the expedition here.


Science in Society Projects


  • Science in Society is a level 3 undergraduate module in which students study the two-way interaction between society and science, i.e. what society wants from scientists, and how scientists can engage different parts of society in research. We also study why there is sometimes a divide between scientists and society. As a final assignment, students produce an outreach project that engages the public in cutting-edge scientific research. Some of these projects are so good that we wanted to share them here. Of course we can only host the projects that are web-friendly here. There are countless other amazing and creative projects we can’t feature!
    • The Sandy Scientist, by Neve McCracken-Heywood, is a magazine to involve 14-18 year-olds in science projects that collect data on ocean plastic. Studies show that many fail to pursue science after school as they feel it is not relevant in their everyday lives and so this magazine showcases how science is conducted beyond the classroom and influences every day life. The magazine, which can be read here, also emphasises the power of individuals to create change.
    • Eco-enlightenment, by Freya Bolton. This blog is for those who suffer from eco-anxiety, feeling anxious about the environment and climate change. Given the mainstream media’s predominantly negative coverage of the environment, the blog and Instagram account are a sanctuary for those who want to read about overlooked positive environmental news. You can read about biodegradable plastic, turtles and edible packaging, and the ocean cleanup. Instagram:


Cote d’Ivoire Marine Protected Areas

Dr Kristian Metcalfe is working with government and local NGOs in Cote d’Ivoire to implement the country’s first marine protected area. To ensure the conservation is successful, he and his team have been learning about local people’s perceptions of the natural environment to increase understanding of the benefits from marine biodiversity. The team has developed educational posters like the above to highlight the benefits of marine protection on biodiversity. There are extremely low levels of literacy in the area, so many of the materials they are developing are visual, like this.


The Tale of the Turtle and the Plastic Jellyfish

Nerin is a sea turtle who loves eating jellyfish. One day, she accidentally eats a plastic bag which puts her in a spot of bother. Luckily, Professor Penny, along with her canine friend, Wilson, is on hand to save the day! Professor Penny Stories are a series of children’s books written by staff and students of the University of Exeter’s College of Life and Environmental Sciences based in Penryn, Cornwall. Each with a unique style and appropriate for a range of ages, these stories bring scientific research and natural history to life—from microbiology to animal behaviour and conservation. Read The Tale of the Turtle and the Plastic Jellyfish here (in 8 languages).

Sea Turtles and the Perils of Plastic

The impact of plastic pollution on sea turtles is particularly worrying. Turtles are highly mobile, travelling huge distances between foraging and breeding areas, and they use both terrestrial and oceanic environments. Already under increasing pressure from a range of human stressors, including climate change, by-catch and habitat destruction, these charismatic animals are undergoing a three-pronged attack from plastic in the form of ingestion, entanglement and habitat degradation. The CEC’s Dr Sarah Nelms discusses Sea turtles and the perils of plastic.


Shark and Ray Entanglement Network

As well as the video and podcast above, MRes and former undergraduate student Kristian Parton, has a blog post all about how plastic affects sharks and rays, which you can read here. You can also read an interview about the Shark and Ray Entanglement Network he set up.


Summer Sessions – Penryn Forest Research


The Centre for Ecology and Conservation teaches the Penryn Biosciences programmes. We launched a series of Summer Sessions to prepare you for joining us. Each week we showcased the research undertaken by our staff and students in the form of live webinars, Q&As, magazine articles, podcasts, videos, photos, and more.

For our first Summer Session, we focussed on forests! From the Bornean jungle to local woodlands, here at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus, we research many different aspects of these ecosystems. Our staff and students are working to understand, protect, and restore forests around the world. Below you can find podcasts, blogs, and websites about this work.

Forest Webinar!

On Friday 3rd July we held a special, live webinar with one of our rainforest ecologists, showing remarkable footage of some very rare animals, and discussing the conservation of this amazing environment. See the recorded webinar here or on our Facebook page!

Natural Selection Podcast

The Natural Selection Podcast aims to communicate biological research from The University of Exeter to the general public. It is fully run and produced by students at The University of Exeter’s Centre for Ecology and Conservation, bringing listeners cutting-edge research from the department. In episode 21 the team talk to David Gill, project manager for Flora and Fauna International’s (FFI) Global Trees Campaign.

Life Nature Magazine

Life Nature Magazine is created by students from the University of Exeter and Falmouth University studying at the Penryn campus in Cornwall. Their aims are to exhibit student photography and art as well as sharing stories and news about our natural world. Due to the coronavirus pandemic the team has decided to make the spring edition, all about trees, public as a PDF to read for free!

Field Courses

Teaching in the field is at the core of our education ethos. Take a look at the field courses that took some of our students to the depths of the Borneo rainforest and the tops of the Monteverde cloud forest.


Forest For Cornwall

A team from the CEC and Environmental Sustainability Institute have been researching the best sites to reforest Cornwall. These sites would expand and connect existing forest, and will help Cornwall’s Council to plan its Forest For Cornwall, 8000 ha of new trees. You can see the results here.

Student Research

Abi Gwynn is one of the CEC’s former undergraduates, and she’s now doing a Masters studying how wildfire affects Orangutans in the forests of Borneo. She’s a nomad, naturalist, and conservationist, and takes amazing photos along the way. Read her startling article explaining the wildfires in Kalimantan, and her report from the scene of 2019’s fire season. Much of the burning takes place so that Palm Oil can be planted. To explain the scale of the problem, and what you can do to make a difference, check out this handy infographic Abi made.


Summer Sessions – Wildlife Spotting and Photography Week



Here at Penryn’s Centre for Ecology Conservation when we’re not teaching the Biosciences programmes or doing research there’s nothing we like more than beastie hunting! Many of our staff and students are keen photographers, and have captured beautiful wildlife shots during field research and teaching in many parts of the world. However, the lockdown has given us an opportunity to appreciate and photograph plants and animals close to home. Here we’ve collated advice on identifying and appreciating plants and animals, as well as tips on setting up cameras and camera traps.

Rockpooling Event!


On Friday 24th July, staff and students spoke live from Gyllyngvase beach, Falmouth, about the ground-breaking research and teaching we do. They collaborated with The Rockpool Project, to find and identify intertidal species and answered questions. See the recording of the live event below!

Welcome to our live rockpooling event! Leave any of your questions below!

Posted by University of Exeter Centre for Ecology & Conservation on Friday, 24 July 2020


Moths in your back garden!

Our head of department, Prof Dave Hodgson, has been using the lockdown as an excuse to dig out his moth trap and see what he can find in his Falmouth garden. He’s put together a beginner’s moth trapping workshop and shared his early morning finds here:



Lockdown Lookout

For the past few months, Exeter CEC’s Eve Tucker has been tweeting snippets of what has been going on in the world around us. Check out all of @UniExeCECs #LockdownLookouts to find out more about frogs vs toads, elderflowers, sea anemones and more!




Aliens are real!

And they’re probably just outside your window! One of our undergraduates Fred Hall, made this podcast for Kid EcoWarriers all about the non-native plants and animals we could see every day. He says it’s a fun and easy way to understand what scientists are worried about, and what everyone can do to help save the world!

This was Fred’s final project for Science in Society, a level 3 undergraduate module in which students study the two-way interaction between society and science, i.e. what society wants from scientists, and how scientists can engage different parts of society in research. We also study why there is sometimes a divide between scientists and society. As a final assignment, students produce an outreach project that engages the public in cutting-edge scientific research.

Seal Spotting

Billy Heaney (former CEC undergraduate and now Masters By Research student) has been keeping himself busy during lockdown teaching us all about seals! This is part of an #EarthLiveLesson youtube series by CEC graduate and BBC Wildlife Presenter Lizzie Daly. There’s even a worksheet for our younger viewers! Seal Earth Live Lesson:,


Camera Trapping

Ever wondered what wild creatures are wandering around when you’re not looking? CEC Social Evolution scientist Prof. Andy Young is an expert at setting camera traps to record the animals that are too shy for us to commonly encounter. He’s prepared a video tutorial in setting up your camera trap, and you can read his advice about trail cameras and SLR trapping.

While Andy set up his camera trap in Costa Rica, if you’re lucky enough to have a back garden you can give it a go as well! Check out these videos from the Gloucester Garden of Billy Heaney (former CEC undergraduate and now Masters By Research student)


When you can’t believe your eyes


For the CEC’s Dr Jolyon Troscianko and his team, photography is more than a hobby, it’s revealing secrets about camouflage that we’d never have realised otherwise. Animals see the world in different ways. Our own eyes can never tell us how camouflage helps evade a predator with a different visual system to our own. But by using clever photographic techniques, Jolyon can replicate a flower as it would be seen by a bee, or a nightjar egg as seen by the genet that wants to eat it. This research could influence fashion, advertising, road safety. In this video he tells us about his research on camouflage in Zambia.

Jolyon and this team also produced a video in bee-vision, which you can watch below. Colourful flowers attract pollinators, but can also become the ideal places to trap unsuspecting prey. Bees see in different colours to humans, with ultraviolet but no red sensitivity. This video was filmed using a “multispectral” video camera, which can record in human-visible and ultraviolet ranges at the same time, with human colours on the left and bee colours on the right. The spider is actually a fairly poor match to the flower in bee vision, suggesting the spider’s yellow colour might be for protecting it from predators itself.


Montage of a flower simulated with different visual systems. Top left: eagle, top right: honeybee with UV vision;  bottom left: human; bottom right: cat. All simulated from 1m away, except for the honeybee, which was 10cm.