Last week saw the completion of a landmark ornithological publication. That’s right, forget the national atlas project: we’re talking about a new and hopefully fairly complete list of birds that have occurred on (or over) Whiteknights Campus! Joking aside, our modest list – though 106 species is hardly a modest total for an urban green space – does provide an interesting opportunity to see how national ecological trends are being reflected here in Reading.
The foundation of the new list was the Whiteknights Natural History report for 1985, compiled by Graham Holloway. That was only a year before the 1986 Wintering Bird Atlas was published and a few years before fieldwork started for the 1998-1991 Breeding Bird Atlas, with which the latest national data is being compared in recent media articles. Marta Calix, a postgraduate student on the MSc in Wildlife Management and Conservation, has scoured the Berkshire Birds database for records from Whiteknights over the last decade or so in order to bring the list up to date for 2013. Take a look – we’d welcome your comments, additions or corrections.
At the start of term a group of five academics representing five different academic schools in three faculties offered six Teaching and Learning Development Fund student placements for the development and testing of the Whiteknights Biodiversity App. Yesterday the team met up to discuss implementation of the first draft App and to agree a programme of work for the next few weeks.
The student and staff participants of the TLDF Whiteknights Biodiversity project
Posted in Meetings/Events, News
Tagged Alastair Culham, Alice Mauchline, Alison Black, Biodiversity app, Biodiversity monitoring, Department of Typography, Hazel McGoff, Jonathan Tanner, Karsten Lundquist, Liam Basford, Liz White, Mark Wells, Phillippa Oppenheimer, School of Agriculture, School of Archaeology Geography and Environmental Science, School of Biological Sciences, School of Systems Engineering, Stephen Birch, TLDF
It was shocking pink lipstick in the 1960s. Now shocking pink fungus is appearing on our trees!
Illiosporiopsis christiansenii on Physcia adscendens.
Illiosporiopsis christiansenii is a bright pink fungus which grows on various lichens that are common in nitrogen-enriched places. Although Whiteknights is not close to any major pollution sources, the lichen habitats on our trees (and on other surfaces) receive extra nitrogen from car exhausts within the town. This means that nitrogen-loving lichens are common throughout the campus. Continue reading
Puccinia lagenophorae on Senecio vulgaris leaf
Puccinia lageniphorae is a common rust fungus that occurs on a large number of host plants. Among these are Senecio vulgaris (Groundsel) and Bellis perennis (Daisy). Both of these plants are common on campus. Groundsel occurs on disturbed ground, in flowerbeds and in paving cracks. Daisies, of course, are common in the regularly mown lawns. Continue reading
Hare’s Foot Ink Cap (Coprinopsis lagopus)
A combination of mild damp autumnal weather and an abundance of wood chippings on campus seems to be paying dividends for the fungal flora of Whiteknights.
Here we see the Hare’s Foot Ink Cap (Coprinopsis lagopus) flourishing on wood chippings near Whiteknights Lake. This species gets its name from the young caps which are furry – rather like a Hare’s Foot in fact! This genus is known as the “Ink Caps” because of their characteristic autodigestion i.e. the toadstool caps literally dissolving thereby releasing and dispersing their spores to create lots more little toadstools (Hare’s feet in this case!). Continue reading
C. ohridella distribution records in 2010. Red
dot indicates original site of infestation. (Forestry Commission)
While strolling around the campus grounds, have you been wondering what’s happening to our horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum L., Sapindaceae) trees? Are those brown leaves really showing signs of an early autumn? These leaves are actually changing colour for a very different reason; our horse chestnuts are under attack from the horse-chestnut leaf miner (Cameraria ohridella), a highly invasive moth.
C. ohridella first established in the UK around Wimbledon (in 2002), and is thought to be spreading at around 25 miles per year. The moth is now present across much of England, extending some 190-230 km from the site of the original infestation… Continue reading
Posted in Birds, Insects, Lepidoptera, Plants, Sapindaceae
Tagged Aesculus hippocastanum, autumn, blue tit, Cameraria ohridella, campus, Cyanistes caeruleus, horse chestnut, larva, larvae, leaf miner, pheromone traps, pupa, pupae, reading university, tree, trees, whiteknights