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London Invasive Species Initiative conference


                                     INVASIVE NON-NATIVE SPECIES IN LONDON


4 May 2011 – Flett Lecture Theatre, Natural History Museum




9.15 – Arrival and registration/Tea and coffee
10.00 Introduction – Dave Webb (London Biodiversity Partnership chair)

Morning themes– national policy, action and research
10.15 The GB Non-native species strategy –Olaf Booy (GB Non-native species secretariat)
10.45 The Environment Agency’s approach to invasive non-native species – Trevor Renals (EA)
11.15 Plantlife’s invasive species campaign – Sophie Thomas
11.45 Research on biocontrol measures for invasive species – Dick Shaw (CABI)
12.15 – Tackling invasive species through a local action group – the Norfolk example – Mike Sutton-Croft
12.45 – Questions, general discussion
13.00 – Lunch – Bring your own

Afternoon themes – INNS priorities for London and our approach to tackling them
14.00 The London Invasive Species Initiative – Priorities for London – Val Selby/Jo Heisse
14.15 Invasive plants in London, existing and emerging issues – Mark Spencer (NHM)
14.45 Invasive molluscs – impacts and control measures – David Aldridge
15.15 – Coffee break

Case studies of existing work in London:
Invasive species research on the Brent – Chris Cockel
Tackling invasive species on the Wandle and the work of Rivers Trusts – Bella Davies (Wandle Trust)
Engaging local communities and corporate organisations in invasive species work – Thames 21
Tackling invasive non-native species on the Olympics site. – Kim Olliver – London 2012
16: 15 – General discussion and close
16.30 End



Registration required


For further details see


Maya Nut (Brosimum alicastrum): traditional rainforest food for healthy forests and families

Friday 6th May 2011, 2.00pm - 3.00pm


Neil Chalmers Lecture Theatre, Darwin Centre, NHM, South Kensington

Erika Vohman


Maya Nut (Brosimum alicastrum) is a delicious, nutritious and abundant neotropical rainforest tree from Latin America whose seed was a staple food for pre-Columbian hunter gatherers. As well as being exceptionally nutritious, providing high quality protein, calcium, iron and folate this species is drought tolerant making it resistant to changing climates and so potentially important for food security. A changing and unstable climate in the near future may result in the rural poor having to rely on this species. Maya Nut is also an excellent forage species and shows great promise for environmentally friendly cattle production. As an important food source for neotropical birds and mammals, Maya Nut is also critical for wildlife conservation. Unfortunately, throughout its range Maya Nut is threatened and local knowledge about the species is in decline.

This award-winning program rescues lost traditional knowledge about Maya Nut in Latin America and the Caribbean. We focus on women as the caretakers of the family and create leadership, educational and economic opportunities for women. Since 2001 we have trained over 15,000 women from 900 rural communities. As a result of this program more than 22 microenterprises to produce and market Maya Nut have been formed and 1,350,000 Maya Nut seedlings have been planted. In 2010 this programme was bolstered by an award from the Darwin Initiative for a collaboration with The Natural History Museum aimed at generating some of the scientific information necessary to underpin sustainable harvesting and reforestation.



Seminar organiser  ( )

See for further information.

Palaeontology  Seminar - Cranial morphology of fossil  hybodont sharks: new information from CT scan studies

Thursday - TODAY - 7th April, Neil Chalmers Seminar Room, DC2,  16:00

Dr.  Jennifer Lane, Bayerische Staatssammlung für Paläontologie und Geologie,  Munich


The  growing field of palaeontological CT scanning has only recently begun to be  applied to fossil chondrichthyan fishes (i.e., sharks, rays, and chimaeroids).  In recent years, CT scan-based studies have provided new information on  chondrichthyan cranial morphology, particularly regarding internal features such  as the interior surface of the braincase and the inner ear.


Many of these  features have turned out to be significant in shedding new light on patterns of  chondrichthyan evolution. Hybodonts, the sister group of modern sharks, are of  particular interest in what they can reveal about the evolutionary history of  their living relatives.


The inner ear of modern sharks (neoselachians) is highly  adapted toward low-frequency semi-directional sound detection (LFSDP). New  investigations of two fossil hybodonts (Tribodus limae and Egertonodus basanus) using  high-resolution CT scanning confirms that the structure of the inner ear in  these sharks was also adapted for LFSDP. However, this adaptation is absent in  earlier chondrichthyans (e.g., symmoriiforms, ctenacanths, Pucapampella), suggesting that it arose  only after the divergence of the hybodont/neoselachian lineage from these  earlier groups. Other features of evolutionary interest include.the loss of the  cranial fissures and elaboration of the vagal and glossopharyngeal nerve canals;  development of a medial capsular wall; and changes in patterns of cranial  arterial circulation.


In facilitating identification of key features such as  positions of nerve and blood vessel pathways and foramina, CT scanning and  digital reconstruction techniques may also pave the way for future developmental  studies (such as reconstructing the positions and growth patterns of the  embryonic cranial cartilages).


Contact: Greg Edgecombe


Friday April 8th
Flett Theatre


11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Larval morphology  of the forensically important Muscidae of Europe

Andrzej  Grzywacz
Nicolaus Copernicus University, ToruÅ„,  Poland

The Muscidae is a large  dipteran family of some 4500 species and with a cosmopolitan distribution. Many  species exhibit various degrees of synanthropy, and some are important from a  medical and veterinary point of view, like those attracted to decaying organic  matter (e.g. decomposing bodies). Housefly species on decomposed bodies, both as  larvae and adults were found in carrion experiments and death investigations.  Application of methods  of Forensic Entomology requires proper species  identification of collected material.

The morphology of immature stages in  carrion visiting houseflies is unequally studied. In some species immature  stages are not described and in the others only some stages are known. On the  second hand characters used in some keys do not allow to easy species  identification. It results in serious problems with identification of immature  houseflies in forensic cases.

During an ongoing project morphological data  concerning the immature stages of all European species of Muscidae of forensic  importance will be revised. Results will be used to prepare an identification  key for the larvae of forensically important species. For this purpose results  obtained during this visit in Natural History Museum will be essential, as also  for the future research projects concerned on larval morphology of Muscidae and  Fanniidae.


Contact: Vladimir Blagoderov -


Lichens combine both fungal and algal organisms in a symbiotic relationship.  They are hugely diverse - there are hundreds of UK species living in a wide range of environments with quite specific needs for particular living conditions.  Some species are particularly sensitive to air pollution and have been used as indicators of air quality and the recovery of impacted ecosystems.


Xanthoria NaturalHistoryMuseum_030476_IA.jpg

Xanthoria parietina


The Museum has particularly good collections of lichens and is involved in a number of collaborations in the UK to develop skills and public involvement in lichen monitoring.  Holger Thus is the lichen curator for the NHM, working with Pat Wolseley, one of the Museum's expert Scientific Associates.


The Museum's Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity (AMC) hosted the first part of a two-part course “Introducing Lichens” run by the British Lichen Society and supported by OPAL, the Lottery Fund and the NHM. Seventeen participants filled the AMC to capacity and a survey-element in the Museum's Wildlife garden resulted in the surprise of a new record for the sensitive lichen species Parmotrema perlatum from the tiny patch of green space surrounding the museum. The second part of this course, which will also be hosted by the AMC, will focus on identification training and will be held on the April 2nd (it is also fully booked, with a waiting list of potential further participants).


Pat and Holger have also begin a joint project, with partners from La Sainte Union Catholic Secondary School and the London Borough of Camden, for pupils to assess air quality in the vicinity of their school using lichens as bio-indicators and comparing their results with those collected from measurements using the technology infrastructure of Camden Council.


Dr Adrian Glover (Zoology) has just returned from an oceanographic research cruise to the Bransfield Strait and Scotia Sea, Antarctica, both to the south of South America, near the Antarctic Peninsula.  He was working aboard the RRS James Cook,  one of three UK research ships operating as part of the Natural Environment Research Council's activities.


Adrian was searching for new hydrothermal vent ecosystems with scientists from the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton and British Antarctic Survey. The team also found the dead body of a whale on the sea bed.  This is a particular interest of Adrian's because such corpses are important sources of nutrition in the sea for specialist marine species such as Osedax mucofloris.


During the cruise, Adrian made three live voice links to Nature Live shows in the Attenborough Studio in the Museum's Darwin Centre, coupled with video clips and images that he had already sent over the ship's satellite system. The public and science staff in the audience were able to interact directly with scientists in the field in the Antarctic, and were some of the first people to see video of Antarctic hydrothermal vents at 2500m water depth in the Scotia Sea.


Adelie penguins.jpg

Adelie penguins - a photograph taken during Captain Scott's expedition in 1911-12


The audiences were spellbound with the live descriptions of passing penguins and albatrosses as Adrian gave a vivid account of the ups and downs of life as a research marine biologist on a research cruise. Given the size of the waves in the Southern Ocean, the ups and downs can be pretty extreme - if you can imagine living on a small rollercoaster for a week or two, you might have some idea of what it is like!