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Protecting nature around the world

A NEW research unit has been launched to study, save and protect some of nature’s most fascinating animals and plant life around the globe.

The Conservation, Evolution and Behaviour Research Group (CEBRG) unites expertise across several disciplines in MMU.

Researchers have already scored some stunning successes - saving animals from extinction and discovering new species with their extensive field work in Mauritius, Tanzania’s mountains and East Africa’s savannahs.  

But they have also contributed closer to home including: improving outcomes for British wildlife after rehabilitation, analysing the genetics of dormice, working with the West Yorkshire police dog division and using super slow motion cameras to shed light on animals’ sensory systems.

New generation

The CEBRG - which brings together Conservation Ecologists, Animal Behaviourists, Geneticists and Evolutionary Biologists - boasts 16 lecturers and 15 PhD students in its ranks. One of the goals is to become a celebrated group for postgraduate study, producing the next generation of animal and plant scientists.

Dr Stuart Marsden, a reader in biology and ecology conservation in the School of Science and Environment, is leading the group.

“For a long time we’ve conducted high-quality applied research in global conservation ecology and also laid on successful Masters courses in Conservation and Animal Behaviour,” he said.

“We now have the critical mass needed to become one of the most active and well-respected groups in our field. We have a wide range of projects going with many of these based in the tropics where animals and plants are in serious danger of extinction.

More than a research group

“We see it more than just a research group. We all teach and supervise students and see a continuum of activities which should be showcased. We see the group as more of a community where research is linked to teaching and teaching informed by research.

“What we hope to do is to show the outside world what an exciting group we have and how approachable we are as individuals – indeed, the sort of community that postgraduate students generally, and overseas PhD students in particular, want to join and thrive in.”

Some examples of recent research include discovering and conserving amphibians and reptiles in Africa’s Eastern Arc Mountains. While PhD student Bruktawit Muhamued is currently using an unusual method to save the Liben Lark, Africa’s most endangered bird– deploying hyena dung to protect its nesting areas.

The ground-dwelling songbird is barely clinging to survival with only around 350 individuals remaining in an area no larger than 40 square kilometres but could face a brighter future due to CEBRG’S research. The group’s webpage, can be found here.

 

Also in this week’s issue of ManMetLife:

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