Posted: 11 February 2015
The UK has about 330 species of Springtails (Collembola). These are usually thought of as wingless insects, although it is now thought that they were not on the direct evolutionary line that led to modern insects and are closer to crustacea. Springtails are often overlooked but are common in every layer of leaf litter, in every soil, up most trees and (in low numbers) in every cave system.
Like many life forms, non-native species have been moving around Europe plus colonising the UK for years but the rate of colonisation seems to have increased in the last decade (perhaps from a combination of rising temperatures and unrestricted horticultural imports). One highly visible species is the bright pink-orange Bilobella braunerae, which was only separated from its (much commoner) yellow-orange sibling species Bilobella aurantiaca in 1981. This springtail is found in large groups under decaying bark so is easily visible, and would not have been overlooked by enthusiastic UK collectors the 150 years of springtail surveying, so must be a recent arrival.
Being neither able to fly nor to jump (not all springtails have a 'spring in their tail'), its recent discovery in Shropshire must result from accidental importation. The University now plans to get DNA barcodes for animals from the UK and the Netherlands to check whether they are the same population. There are at least 4 other non-native Collembola in the UK, 2 of which are new to science and await description.
Biomechanics expert reveals secret behind Usain Bolt’s sprinting success
Biomechanics expert reveals the science behind Usain Bolt’s sprinting success as eleven-time World Champion and eight-time Olympic gold medallist in Times Sport.
Posted: 2 October 2017
Local communities in East Africa to benefit from coastal heritage sites
Professor Garry Marvin from the University of Roehampton’s Department of Life Sciences is using his expertise to support a £2 million research project to help East African communities better understand and benefit from marine cultural heritage. To support the project, the University is offering four East African students PhD scholarships.
Posted: 13 September 2017
Department of Life Sciences collaborates with NHS patients in garden project
The Department of Life Sciences is collaborating with NHS patients as part of a gardening programme taking place on campus this summer.
Posted: 30 August 2017