• Question: What is the biggest discovery you have made about your species?

    Asked by joseph hamer to Beaver, Canada Goose, Cirl Bunting, Danish Scurvygrass, Fen Raft Spider, Cyanobacterium, Pill Millipede, Small Red-eyed Damselfly, Tree Lichen on 10 Nov 2017.
    • Photo: Tree Lichen

      Tree Lichen answered on 10 Nov 2017:

      Tricky question as I don’t work directly with Lichens but with bacteria such as Escherichia coli and their viruses! The property of Lichens that most intrigues me is their ability to survive droughts and the harsh conditions found in Antarctica where temperatures can go as low as a unbelievable -80 degrees centigrade. That does not include the wind chill factor! They are one of the few inhabitants found in the inhospitable dry valleys of Antarctica. They can live in such an environment for hundreds of years if left undisturbed but the may only grow about 1 mm in every 10 years in a ‘bad’ year!

    • Photo: Canada Goose

      Canada Goose answered on 11 Nov 2017:

      I really like the imprinting and the fact that no one really knows how it happens. It means that you can basically raise a goose to think it is human. There are also some hilarious videos of geese defending themselves against much larger animals – swans, foxes, a gorilla and even an elephant.

    • Photo: Fen Raft Spider

      Fen Raft Spider answered on 12 Nov 2017:

      We discovered (using DNA studies) that the UK populations of fen raft spiders are very different from ones that you find in Europe. This means it’s really important that we try to keep the UK populations alive. Once they are gone, they really will be gone and we can’t get them back

    • Photo: Small Red-eyed Damselfy

      Small Red-eyed Damselfy answered on 13 Nov 2017:

      There are so many things I could site as a great discovery, you see damselflies are very interesting.
      For me the most relevant fact is that Erythromma viridulum is the first species of Odonata (the order to which the damselfly belongs) to have colonized Britain since records began 300 years ago and that they are doing it so rapidly that no one knows for certain if the population have had significant changes from the original one from Europe. Some studies reveal that the males are becoming bigger and the wings area also changing, but no one knows for certain the reason. that is why the posibility of sequencing this species would give and insight into how this great insects are adapting to climate change.

    • Photo: Cirl Bunting

      Cirl Bunting answered on 13 Nov 2017:

      I didn’t make it personally as it happened hundreds of years before I was born, but when Cirl Bunting were first discovered breeding in the UK in the 1800s. This has given rise to lots of questions on the genetic drivers of colonisation of new places in some species.

      Vote for us and you might even help make the really big discoveries.

    • Photo: Danish Scurvygrass

      Danish Scurvygrass answered on 13 Nov 2017:

      Hi Joseph. Several points come to mind about Danish Scurvygrass. Examples being its name and its relation to scurvy, and the fact its genome organisation is the same as wheat which may be a good reason to study it.

      However, I think the most interesting aspect about this plant is its habitat and how the plant has adapted rapidly to increase its population in the UK. There is data to show that up until the 1970’s it was restricted mainly to costal areas in the UK, as you would expect as it likes salt-rich environments. Interestingly, the introduction of extensive gritting with the accompanying increase in salt levels, onto our major roadworks from the 1980’s onwards seems to have had a major impact on increasing the range of its distribution. In fact if you go to The Botanical Soc. of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) map feature at http://bsbi.org/maps and type in the name and zoom in to the appropriate level, you can recognise our major motorways in the UK, the M4, M25, and how closely linked it is to the habitat of this plant. A good example of recent human activity and its affect on a rather humble plant.

    • Photo: Cyanobacterium

      Cyanobacterium answered on 7 Dec 2017:

      It is a difficult question. An interesting finding in my research was that some cyanobacteria from the Arctic and Antarctic have high genetic similarity although they are at the opposite poles, but we dont know yet why?