The Manchester Museum holds a fantastically diverse collection of insects, with over 2.5 million specimens deposited, which represent an important scientific resource for taxonomic, biodiversity and conservation studies. One of such academic studies is now being undertaken by Ms Roisin Stanbrook, a postgraduate student reading for a MSc. in Conservation Biology at Manchester Metropolitan University. She is lucky enough to be travelling to Tanzania this summer (2013) to conduct research for her final project. Her dissertation investigates the use dung beetles (Scarabaeinae) as bioindicators of habitat disturbance in African savannah ecosystems. Habitat fragmentation, hunting, logging and other changes in vegetation usually cause a reduction in species richness, abundance and biomass when compared to undisturbed habitat. Roisin’s study will measure each of these variables to ascertain which type of ecosystem: disturbed pasture, upland secondary forest and pristine primary forest contains the greatest abundance and dung beetle species richness. Many invertebrate groups, especially dung beetles are used as focal taxa in disturbance studies because of their abundance, habitat specialization and response to small-scale habitat heterogeneity. In fact, such is the adeptness of dung beetles, previous studies have demonstrated that composition changes distinctly across habitat types and a complete species turnover have been observed in as little as 100m! In addition, many dung beetle species show a graded response to various kinds of disturbance. Therefore, measuring dung beetle response to human activity can help us assess the functional consequences of human disturbance and aid implementation of appropriate conservation policies to combat habitat and species loss. By studying the extensive dung beetle collection held at the Museum Roisin is able to gain valuable ‘eyes on’ experience before she begins her research and becomes acquainted with her favourite beetles up close!
Any researcher is most welcome to come over to the Manchester Museum and to work with what we think is the best entomological collection in North-West.
Roisin looking at some dung beeles from the collection of Manchester Museum
Posted in Arthropoda, Biodiversity, entomology, Insects, Manchester Museum, Museum Visitors, Nature Manchester, Research, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »
The Manchester Museum’s Entomology Department welcomes a wide array of visitors, from scientists coming to study our extensive insect collections to designers and artists exploring the diversity of shapes, colours or patterns of the many thousands of creepy-crawlies deposited here. Some time ago, the Entomology Department was visited by Ms Michelle Topping based at Mirabel Studios in Manchester. Michelle spent a day looking at and drawing various butterflies from our collection and here is her first result, the painting inspired by her visit.
The painting inspired by the visit to the Entomology department of the Manchester Museum
Here is some information Michelle wrote about her own work:
My paintings explore the two worlds of reality and the virtual world of being online. The butterflies reflect a fragile impermanent beauty which can often be missed when attention has been stopped to the here and now. Most of my work involves portraits of people who have inspired me and others with certain characteristics and talents. It’s the word talent which interest me the most, as I like to explore the hard work and determination which hides behind it.
Michelle is based at Mirabel Studios in Manchester. They have an open studio on the 9th May. Everyone is welcome. For more information go online.
Posted in Art Project, Arthropoda, entomology, Insects, Manchester Museum, Museum Visitors, Nature Manchester, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »
Spider ID workshop at the Manchester Museum (Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL) on Saturday 2nd February, provisionally 10am – 4pm.
This workshop is for beginners and attendance at the workshop is free.
This course will introduce the common families of spider that can be found in the UK. Attendees will be shown basic spider anatomy and how to identify spiders to family level and also some easy spider species.
We will use microscopes and the recommended ID guides (provided, although some sharing may be necessary).
We may have some live spiders to examine, but the emphasis with the microscopes will be on how to identify preserved specimens in alcohol.
This is necessary to clearly understand the anatomy and features used in identification (which when familiarised can often be viewed with a hand lens on live spiders in the field).
Space is limited to 10 attendees.
Please contact Philip Baldwin, North West Regional Coordinator, to book your place on this workshop, preferably by email with your contact details; Mobile: 07585 606148, email email@example.com; or Dmitri Logunov, the Curator of Arthropods (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Other events run by the British Arachnological Society can be checked upon online at: http://wiki.britishspiders.org.uk/index.php?title=Events,_etc.
Posted in Arthropoda, Biodiversity, entomology, Nature Manchester, Research, Spiders, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »
Some people may think that natural history museums deposit only old, historically and/or scientifically important collections. Although this is true, museums also continue to acquire new materials coming to them in various ways. In order just to give visitors an idea about how new collections can be acquired, here is a very brief report on new acquisitions made by the Manchester Museum’s Entomology department during the last five years, from January 2008 to December 2012.
A total of 66 acquisitions of 17,477 specimens have been received, as follows:
1. Fieldwork (by the curator): 3 acquisitions of 368 specimens.
2. Enquire-based acquisitions (usually via the identification service we provide): 10 acquisitions of 61 specimens.
3. Acquisitions related to the public events that we support (Bioblitzes and others): 5 acquisitions of 112 specimens.
4. Exchange: 1 acquisition of 121 specimens.
5. Donations: 47 acquisitions of 16,815 specimens.
Of the aforementioned donations, the largest single one was the spider collection of Dr. Eric Duffey (Norfolk) from Britain, France and Spain acquired in July 2011, which alone consisted of more than 6,000 sample tubes containing 12,545 specimens. The collection has a high scientific value and started being intensively used both for research and for teaching.
Some donations are quite unusual. For instance, a set of three trays apparently produced in Brazil and received in July 2011. Each tray contains a selection of 12 to 21 showy tropical butterflies incorporated inside its bottom, with a nice Morpho-butterfly in the centre (see photo). The trays were first given to us for the identification of butterflies, which we did, and then were simply donated to the Museum.
Unusual Trays acquired in July 2011.
Although the majority of newly acquired insect or spider collections represent an essential resource for taxonomic research, many specimens can also be used (and are used) in various Museum’s educational programmes or temporary/permanent exhibitions. A new permanent Museum’s exhibition called ‘Nature’s Library’, which is due to open in April 2013, will be specifically devoted to our large natural history collections hidden behind-the-scenes and to why these collections are here and how are they used. Do not miss out the opening date (check out the Museum’s site regularly).
Posted in Arthropoda, Biodiversity, entomology, Insects, Manchester Museum, Museum Visitors, Nature Manchester, Research, Spiders, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »
A new photographic exhibition devoted to complex interrelations of humans and neotropical nature has been opened on the 3rd floor of the Manchester Museum. A brief Summary of the exhibition is given below:
The Ecuadorian Amazon is one of the most endangered regions of our planet. Many people want to protect the biodiversity that remains, but the reality on the ground is a complex dilemma. Economic necessity means that trees are valued for their timber more than for their crucial role in the ecosystem. Scientist and photographer Johan Oldekop, who was originally trained as a biologist at the University of Manchester (UK), studied the complex interaction between social and conservation issues in Ecuador during 2006-2011. As a scientist, Johan is interested in the socio-economic factors and land-use in indigenous Kichwa communities and their effect on the biodiversity of Ecuadorian Amazon. This exhibition presents his findings through his own stunning photographs combined with specimens from the Manchester Museum’s entomology and botany collections.
The exhibition will be opened until the beginning of June, 2013. Everyone is welcome!
Here are a few shots taken just after the opening of this exhibition.
Posted in Art Project, Biodiversity, entomology, Insects, Manchester Museum, Museum Visitors, Nature Manchester, Public Events, Research, Uncategorized | Tagged Art project, botany, entomology, environment, manchester museum, Museum Visitors | 2 Comments »
We are glad to announce that the 4th Northern Coleopterists’ Meeting 2012 will take place on this Saturday (September 22nd) at the Manchester Museum (in the Kanaris Lecture Theatre). Anyone interested in beetles is welcome. Attendees are welcome to bring any exhibits, literature or other entomological items to display at the meeting.
Here is the Agenda:
10.00-10.15 ‘Welcome’ by Tom Hubball & Dmitri Logunov
10.15-10.45 ‘Subterranean Beetles: The British Fauna in Context of the World’ by Graham Proudlove
11.00-11.45 ‘Beetle Diversity in Dunes and Pine Plantations at Newborough by Anglesey’ by Dick Loxton
11.45-12.30 ‘The Rediscovery and Current Status of Cryptocephalus coryli at Sherwood Forest NNR’ by Trevor Pendleton
12.30-13.15 ‘Beetles and Buglife: Conservation Work in the UK’ by Sarah Henshall
14.15-16.30 Afternoon discussion and identification session in Entomology Dept.
Posted in Arthropoda, Biodiversity, entomology, Insects, Manchester Museum, Museum Visitors, Nature Manchester, Public Events, Research, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »
One of the important aspects of the Manchester Museum’s work is to engage with the visitors, particularly children, in order to stimulate interest in the world around them. As part of this campaign to stimulate interest in the collections the Manchester Museum runs regular Big Saturday events across the year, which encourage visitors (of all ages) to directly interact with museum collections. Members of the museum staff are also available at these events to explain and answer questions about the objects presented on handling tables.
In 2011-12 academic year, the Manchester Museum’s Entomology Department was involved in a collaborative project with Arts, Design & Media students from the Stockport College (tutor – Ian Murray). Working with Dmitri Logunov, the Museum’s Curator of Entomology, and Anna Bunney, the Museums Curator of Public Programmes, the students were given the challenge to create artworks in response to different groups of creepy-crawlers (e.g., flies, cockroaches, butterflies, dragonflies, cicada, sacred scarab, spiders, scorpions, etc.), exploring not only the physical appearance of the creatures but also their historical and symbolic meaning.
In this collaborative project, students were asked not only to develop various artworks (artist books exploring bugs, 3D models or toys of various bugs, badgers with their images, and even bug animation), but also to contribute to a Museum’s Big Saturday event through their art and design skills. Such Big Saturday, called Bug Art, took place in the Museum in partnership with the Stockport College on 28/01/2012. During that day the visitors could get a closer look at some of the insects from the Museum’s collection, watch a family friendly Bugs and Insects film or watch maggots creating abstract art. Activities also included making origami Cicadas, bug headbands, bug badges, printing and stop motion animation.
Here is the short film produced by the students involved in Bug Art – Big Saturday who presented their own view on that great event. Just enjoy it!
Bug Art Big Saturday at the Manchester Museum
Posted in Art Project, Arthropoda, entomology, Insect Mythology, Insects, Manchester Museum, Museum Visitors, Nature Manchester, Public Events, Spiders, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »