Recent BMG Talks

Recent talks given to the Berkshire Mammal Group

 April 2022

Louise De Raad:  Forest Management and Red Squirrel Conservation

Reconciliation of timber production and wildlife conservation is a major challenge in forest ecosystem management. For some protected species impacts of forest management are well documented, but for others such as the Eurasian red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) they are still largely unknown. In Scotland, red squirrels are protected under national and international law and their presence needs to be carefully considered in forest management planning. In this talk, Dr Louise de Raad presented her study on red squirrel responses to forest management activities with specific focus on the impact of standard thinning operations on red squirrel breeding activity, survival, population density and home range.


February 2022

Manuela Gonzalez-Suarez Sea lions in the sun: conservation challenges and habitat preferences of California sea lions in Mexico

I am a conservation biologist doing mostly large-scale computational research now, but for my PhD I worked in the field with a charming marine mammal: the California sea lion. My research was conducted in the Gulf of California in Mexico which is the southern end of the species distribution and a hot desert area that poses challenges for this species with a big blubber (fat) layer and best prepared for colder climates. During this talk I will cover some interest taxonomic and natural history aspects of this species and explain my own research on sea lion habitat preferences and conservation challenges including observed population declines and what they could mean in light of observed genetic differentiation among colonies of sea lions within the Gulf.

December 2021

Robyn Grant, Manchester Metropolitan University :What can whiskers tell us about mammalian evolution, behaviour, and ecology?

Nearly all mammals have whiskers – sensory tactile hairs, also known as vibrissae. In fact, whiskers are only truly absent in a handful of species, including humans. However, much of what we know about whiskers comes from studying just a few species, such as laboratory rats and mice. In this presentation, I presented a snapshot of what is known about how different species use their whiskers, drawing information from studies of whisker anatomy, development, evolution, and function. In particular, answering the following questions: how do whiskers work, develop, and evolve? And what are they for? I also considered the applications of whisker research for mammalian behaviour, welfare, and conservation.

October 2021

 Prakash Mardaraj : Vulnerable sloth bears adapting to urbanisation- A case study from eastern India

The loss of wildlife habitats due to increasing human interventions can compel animals to move into human-dominated landscapes, often resulting in conflict. Long-term conservation of sloth bears is possible only if strategies for mitigating human-sloth bear conflicts are implemented.

April 2021

Ellie Scopes & Charlotte Armitage : Hazel dormice populations and torpor in the UK
These two talks discussed firstly conservation monitoring and popluation changes in dormice, and secondly the nature of torpor and the conditions under which dormice may enter this state

February 2021

Emma Ashby (Berkshire College of Agriculture): Exploring the social networks of captive Grey Wolves
Emma’s facinating talk detailed the social interactions that took place between several groups of Gray Wolves in a captive environment. Detaillint the type frequency and meaning of these interactions within and across groups of wolves

December 2020

John Fennel & Jill Hoblin: Badgers

October 2020

Grace Yoxon (International Otter Survival Fund): The ecology and conservation of otters

February 2020

The Bats of Utila (Honduras) by Maisy Inston (University of Exeter)
Maisie’s talk gave us an insight into the bat species found on the island of Utila, off the coast of Honduras, and her bat-based adventures there!

She summarised her research on the island’s tent-making bats and what there is still to learn about their ecology, and also talked briefly about her current research into cultural perception of bats worldwide, including how to take part!
There was also a short AGM before the talk.

Maisy’s page

Maisy’s bat perceptions survey

December 2019

The Wytham Bat Project with Dr Danielle Linton (University of Oxford/WildCRU)

An overview of insights from the speaker’s research in Oxfordshire and other UK bat box schemes, including seasonal changes in roost occupancy and a glimpse into the private lives of bats.

Oct 2019

Black-backed Jackals: unlocking the secrets of their success
Jack Merrifield (University of Southampton)

Research showing the impressive range of hunting strategies these plucky canids adopt to help them survive on Namibia’s desert coast, one of the most hostile environments on Earth.

April 2019
Pine Martens (Dr Johnny Birks, Swift Ecology)

The pine marten is one of our most enchanting and enigmatic mammals, yet it is still absent or rare over most of Britain.

Johnny Birks has studied pine martens for over 25 years and has played a part in efforts to detect and conserve the species, including recent translocation and reintroduction projects.  In his talk he explored the challenges of helping this carnivore to recover more widely in Britain, especially where intolerance fuels illegal persecution, and where low woodland cover limits habitat availability.

Feb 2019
Whales to Weasels: Marine Biologist to Terrestrial Ecologist (Dr Frazer Coomber) and AGM

Dr Coomber’s research background is in the study of whales and dolphins, from sexing in the field to the impact of noise and pollution.

Last year his work expanded into the population distribution and conservation status of terrestrial mammals for The Mammal Society’s new Atlas.

This talk covered his wide-ranging experiences includes the best places in the UK to see marine mammals – and how to identify them!

December 2018

Rescuing Ratty: Water vole ecology and conservation, Julia Lofthouse, BBOWT

Julia spoke about the lifestyle of our water voles, why they need our help, how they’re faring in Berkshire and the conservation work that’s being carried out to help them.

The speaker, Julia Lofthouse, is the Mammal Project Officer for BBOWT and has managed the Water Vole Recovery Project, which covers the waterways of Berks, Bucks and Oxon, for the past 11 years.

October 2018

Edible dormice (Glis glis):  a growing pain in the woods & in houses

Roger Trout spoke about a long-term monitoring scheme to investigate the habits of this invasive species and
problems they can cause for local residents and wildlife.

April 2018 – Towards solving some prickly problems with hedgehog conservation

An outline of current research at the University of Reading.

Dr Phil Baker, School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading; and Scientific Advisory Panel, The Mammal Society

Feb 2018 – The Bat Atlas Project

Claire described the bats of Berkshire and outlined a five-year project to discover and plot the distribution of bats in Berkshire and South Buckinghamshire, thereby creating an atlas of accurate and up-to-date species distribution maps.

Claire Andrews, Director of CA Ecology and member of the Berks & South Bucks Bat Group

Dec 2017 – Hunting primates in the Amazon: behavioral interactions between humans and monkeys

The Amazon is home to numerous species of monkeys, who come into contact with both ecotourists and indigenous hunters. Dr Papworth spoke about how this contact changes their behaviour, and what this might mean for the conservation of Amazonian primates.

Dr Sarah Papworth, Senior Lecturer in Conservation Biology, Royal Holloway, University of London

A write -up of this talk is available on our blog here

Oct 2017 Elephants in a human-dominated Africa

The challenge of coexistence between the world’s largest land animal and some of the world’s poorest people. What management options we have, with a specific focus on fences and contraception. All accompanied by photos and anecdotes of elephants I have come to know and love.

Victoria Boult, Postgraduate Research Student at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading

Feb 2017:  Project Splatter

Project Splatter is a citizen science research project at Cardiff University that collates wildlife roadkill data reported by members of the public using social media. Please let the project know where, when and what species you have seen as roadkill in the UK.

Our blogpost of this talk is here.

Dr Sarah Perkins. Project Splatter Co-ordinator, Cardiff University

Dec 2016:  The Gib-Bats project

The project is to clearly establish what bat species are living year round in Gibraltar and what species use the Rock during certain times of the year. The project aims to educate the community on bats and also advise HM Government of Gibraltar on how to protect these endangered animals and their habitats.

James Shipman. Chairman, Berks & South Bucks Bat Group

Nov 2016:  Why is the slow loris venomous and will this help or hinder their conservation?

All species of loris are threatened with extinction. Some are amongst the rarest primates on the planet. It is hoped that they can remain in the forest for as long as possible so we can learn more about these most unique primates. Stephanie and Claire gave a very informative talk about their studies concerning these enigmatic and much threatened primates.

Our blogpost on this talk is here and the project web page is here.

Stephanie Poindexter & Claire Cardinal, Oxford Brookes University

Oct 2016:  American mink – evil or interesting?

American mink are small, semi-aquatic animals that have proven to be remarkably adaptable. This adaptability led to their conquest of three continents, and to them being a threat to native diversity in new habitats. What makes mink so successful – and how do we find out? Joanna’s talk provided an insight into the biology of the American mink and convinced many in the audience that they are worthy of study.

Our blogpost of Joanna’s talk is here.

Dr Joanna Bagniewska, Teaching fellow at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading