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.

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