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Alys Fowler: winter bedding plants

Alys Fowler: winter bedding plants | 100 Acre Wood | Scoop.it
There is something peculiarly depressing to the gardening soul to see a pot of compost with nothing growing in it over winter. It makes you feel as if everything has gone to bed and so should you.

It's too late to sow now, because light levels are too low and the weather too inclement for anything other than very erratic germination. The next best option is to buy winter bedding and, if you're like me, haunt the discount section, where the ugly and unloved can be rescued. ...

Sadly, many of our bedding plants are grown using neonicotinoids (systemic insecticides incorporated into the growing medium) to control aphids, whiteflies, vine weevil and sciarid flies. These insecticides are being linked to the decline of honeybees and other pollinators. I love violas, but I also love butterflies and bees. So please become an informed consumer and ask for pesticide-free plants. If the shop can't supply these, or answer your questions, don't buy. Our pounds are our strongest vote in favour of wildlife, so let's use them wisely.
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Feather-Eating Bacteria Found in Birds Across North America

Feather-Eating Bacteria Found in Birds Across North America | 100 Acre Wood | Scoop.it
“We found that the bacteria were quite common in all the birds we sampled,” Kent says, adding that 39 percent of the wild individuals they caught tested positive. Yet not all species were affected equally. Ground-foraging birds, such as House and Song Sparrows, showed higher levels of the microbe. On the other hand, some species of hummingbirds and woodpeckers came up clean.

Kent says finding out why there were variations in the level of contamination is probably the next step in the research. So far, there isn’t any reason to panic, Kent says. The microbes have likely been around as long as birds themselves, given their dependence on keratin—perhaps even longer. The impacts may also not all be bad. One potential benefit is that they cause bluebird feathers to shine brighter, allowing males that are covered in bacteria to sire more offspring.
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Giant swimming, venomous centipede discovered by accident in world-first

Giant swimming, venomous centipede discovered by accident in world-first | 100 Acre Wood | Scoop.it

Scientists have discovered the world’s first known amphibious centipede, which grows up to 20cm (nearly 8in) long and has an excruciating bite.


Scolopendra cataracta, from the Latin for “waterfall”, has been found in Laos, Thailand and Vietnam and was seen scurrying into the water by entomologist George Beccaloni, during his honeymoon to Thailand in 2001. It is only recently that it has been fully described, in the online science journal ZooKeys.

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How the dormouse is returning to England’s hedgerows after 100 years

How the dormouse is returning to England’s hedgerows after 100 years | 100 Acre Wood | Scoop.it
Last Thursday, 20 breeding pairs of rare hazel dormice (Muscardinus avellanarius) were reintroduced in the Yorkshire Dales national park as part of a national scheme to reverse the decline of one of Britain’s most threatened mammals.

The tiny, golden-brown creatures, known for their sleepy disposition and winter hibernation, were once widespread throughout England and Wales. Exact numbers are unknown, but their distribution and population has declined significantly over the past 100 years, and the species is now classed as vulnerable to extinction.
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Climate change is disrupting seasonal behaviour of Britain's wildlife

Climate change is disrupting seasonal behaviour of Britain's wildlife | 100 Acre Wood | Scoop.it
Climate change is disrupting the seasonal behaviour of Britain’s plants and animals, with rising temperatures having an impact on species at different levels of the food chain, new research shows.

The result could be widespread “desynchronisation” between species and their phenological events – seasonal biological cycles such as breeding and migration – that could affect the functioning of entire ecosystems, according to the large-scale study published this week in the journal Nature.
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How Spain Lost Millions of Common Birds During the Past Two Decades

How Spain Lost Millions of Common Birds During the Past Two Decades | 100 Acre Wood | Scoop.it

Over the past two decades, nearly 64.5 million birds have disappeared in Spain due to rapid loss of habitat, SEO/BirdLife Spain reports.


The findings, published earlier this month, were based off data collected by more than 1,000 citizen scientists from SACRE, the Spanish chapter of the European Breeding Bird Survey, between 1996 and 2015. The volunteers visited a local spot twice every spring and logged all the birds they saw and heard. In total, observations were inputted from 20,000 stations, Juan Carlos del Moral, research and monitoring coordinator at SEO/BirdLife Spain, says.


Farmland birds posted the biggest losses, but city birds didn't come away unscathed either. Between 1998 and 2005, common rural birds declined by 23 percent, while common urban birds diminished by 18 percent.

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Hedgehogs continue to disappear from British gardens, wildlife survey shows

Hedgehogs continue to disappear from British gardens, wildlife survey shows | 100 Acre Wood | Scoop.it

The rapidly declining UK hedgehog population is estimated to number less than 1 million, down from more than 30 million in the 1950s. One-third of this loss is thought to have taken in the past 10 years. A 2015 report found rural populations had declined by at least a half and urban populations by up to a third since 2000.


Their long-term but poorly understood decline is attributed to the loss and fragmentation of their habitat in Britain’s towns and countryside, death on roads, and intensive farmland that provides few good foraging or nesting sites. Rising numbers of badgers, their natural predator, have also been cited as a possible cause.

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

The week in wildlife – in pictures | 100 Acre Wood | Scoop.it
Tibetan antelope, tussling Indian rat snakes and Europe’s last primeval forest are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world
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24-inch stick insect clinches record for world’s longest 'bug'

24-inch stick insect clinches record for world’s longest 'bug' | 100 Acre Wood | Scoop.it
While to some the idea of a two-foot long bug may be the perfect fuel for a total freak-out, no one can deny that the latest superlative insect discovered in China is nothing less than majestic!

 It is a remarkable stick insect measuring in at 62.4 centimeters – a 24.6-inch bug that looks like a twig, if not a branch. Nature never ever fails to impress.
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Peacock spiders species found in Australia

Peacock spiders species found in Australia | 100 Acre Wood | Scoop.it

Seven new species of Australian peacock spider have been discovered. Known for their bright colours and distinctive mating displays, tiny peacock spiders are more cute than creepy-crawly.


Scientist Jürgen Otto discovered the creatures, helped by spider expert David Knowles, and co-authored his paper on the new species with David Hill, editor of spider journal Peckhamia.

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Photo: Leaf-litter toad mimics the forest floor

Photo: Leaf-litter toad mimics the forest floor | 100 Acre Wood | Scoop.it

While this leaf-litter toad photographed by Andreas Kay may stand out against a vibrant red leaf, against the mottled melange of the forest floor Rhinella alata blends right in.

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Watch these incredible green ants build a leaf castle

Watch these incredible green ants build a leaf castle | 100 Acre Wood | Scoop.it

Like an insect version of a barn raising, green ants (also called weaver ants) work together with incredible cooperation to pull leaves together and stitch them into place to create nests high in the trees. Linking their tiny bodies together to form chains from one leaf to another, their efforts are nothing short of Herculean!

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Spectacular bearded vulture spotted for first time in UK

Spectacular bearded vulture spotted for first time in UK | 100 Acre Wood | Scoop.it

A spectacular bearded vulture, believed to be the first recorded in the UK, has been spotted soaring over the Severn estuary and moorland in Devon.


If it is confirmed that the vulture, also known as the lammergeier or ossifrage, is a wild bird, it will be the first of its species to be found in Britain and the sightings have already caused ornithologists to rush to the west country hoping for a glimpse.

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One in Five of World’s Plant Species at Risk of Extinction

One in Five of World’s Plant Species at Risk of Extinction | 100 Acre Wood | Scoop.it
One in five of the world’s plant species is threatened with extinction, according to the first global assessment of flora, putting supplies of food and medicines at risk. But the report also found that 2,000 new species of plant are discovered every year, raising hopes of new sources of food that are resilient to disease and climate change.

The State of the World’s Plants report, by experts at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, reveals that there are currently 390,000 species of known plants, with more than 30,000 used by people.
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A guide to British bees | OS GetOutside

A guide to British bees | OS GetOutside | 100 Acre Wood | Scoop.it

The decline of the bees is a world wide problem. Did you know that bees pollinate one third of the world's food source and are responsible for almost every fruit and vegetable we eat? When bees go, all of our food will go with them - so they really are important!


The UK has also seen a massive decline in its bee species. In the UK alone, the honey bee population has dropped by 45% since 2010 and three species of bumblebees have gone extinct. Find out about the UK's regional differences in bee species and follow our guide to look out for different bees near you.

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

The week in wildlife – in pictures | 100 Acre Wood | Scoop.it
Fruit bats, Joshua trees and thousands of flamingos are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world
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UK light pollution 'causing spring to come a week earlier'

UK light pollution 'causing spring to come a week earlier' | 100 Acre Wood | Scoop.it
Light pollution is causing spring to come at least a week earlier in the UK, a new study has revealed.

he report, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, found that budburst in trees occurs up to 7.5 days earlier in brighter areas, with later-budding species being more affected.

The link between light pollution and changes in animal behaviour has been well documented, but this is the first time its impact specifically on plant phenology has been examined on a national scale.

The paper’s authors believe that this early budburst is likely to have a knock-on effect on the life cycles of insects and birds that live in sync with the trees.
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30 minutes of nature a week reduces depression and heart disease

30 minutes of nature a week reduces depression and heart disease | 100 Acre Wood | Scoop.it
C BY 2.0 pexels If city residents all went to a park for a half hour weekly, there would be 7 percent fewer cases of depression and 9 percent fewer cases of high blood pressure.

Oh look, another study extolling the health benefits of getting outside! We’ve seen this again and again, so much research telling us that we need to have contact with nature, even if it's just a walk in the park – yet somehow we don’t seem to quite get it. (For example, this latest study notes that 40 percent of Australians in Brisbane did not visit an urban park in a typical week.)
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2016 Great British Bee Count reaches halfway point - in pictures

2016 Great British Bee Count reaches halfway point - in pictures | 100 Acre Wood | Scoop.it
The 2016 Great British Bee Count has reached the halfway point with more than 189,000 bees recorded so far. The annual count, which runs until 30 June, aims to help people learn more about bees, a key pollinator species that faces multiple threats. Here are some of the species spotted so far
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Beneficial insects

Beneficial insects | 100 Acre Wood | Scoop.it
Insects can be the organic grower’s best friend. Whether pollinators or predators, they will help manage pests and keep your garden healthy.

We have chosen 7 friendly insect favourites for each day of the week. Whatever you do, don’t spray or squash them ……
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5 ways nature boosts happiness, according to science

5 ways nature boosts happiness, according to science | 100 Acre Wood | Scoop.it

These studies show that a dose of nature does wonders for wellbeing.

Anyone who has ever stepped foot in the forest or dipped a toe in a lake likely knows this, but nature is a happy-maker. With its fresh air and soothing appeal to all the senses, it is a sly mesmerist who can erase stress and instill wellbeing in a manner of minutes.

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There are only 35 kinds of animal and most are really weird

There are only 35 kinds of animal and most are really weird | 100 Acre Wood | Scoop.it

Every animal on Earth belongs to one of about 35 groups called "phyla". Some are familiar, but others are profoundly strange. The number of species per phylum is always changing, as more animals are discovered.


In 2014 alone, over 1,400 new marine species were discovered, and the largely unexplored deep sea surely holds many more surprises. Also, seemingly separate phyla sometimes turn out to be the same.


As a result, this list of phyla is not definitive. But it is our best attempt to sum up the vast diversity of Earth's animal life.

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Top 10 new species include a bizarre array of wonders

Top 10 new species include a bizarre array of wonders | 100 Acre Wood | Scoop.it
While we humans are helping to make mincemeat of other species at a worrisome rate, it’s heartening to remember that there are new ones constantly being discovered.

Although it’s a slippery number to confirm, scientists believe there are some 10 million species yet to be discovered, five times more than have already been identified. In 2015 alone, 18,000 new species were named during the course of the year.
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'Biting' plants discovered with teeth like ours!

'Biting' plants discovered with teeth like ours! | 100 Acre Wood | Scoop.it

For the first time, researchers have found calcium phosphate in the structure of plants – in this case, used to harden the needle-like hairs used to defend against predators.

Revenge of the plants? It’s hard for the mind not to wander into B-movie territory when considering what researchers from Bonn University recently discovered: The first plants found to have calcium phosphate as a structural biomineral.


Calcium phosphate is widely found in the animal kingdom; it’s a hard mineral substance of which bones and teeth are largely comprised. Now the researchers have confirmed its presence in the stinging hairs of rock nettles (Loasaceae), a “well-defended” plant native to the South American Andes.

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

The week in wildlife – in pictures | 100 Acre Wood | Scoop.it
A fleeing giraffe, a sleeping racoon and a close encounter with a great white shark are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world
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Is there any point in planting new trees? - BBC News

Is there any point in planting new trees? - BBC News | 100 Acre Wood | Scoop.it

Successive governments have made popular pledges to plant large numbers of new trees. But do these trees ever actually get planted and, where they do, does it ever achieve anything useful?


Woodlands have a vital role to play in our landscape. As well as being a valuable source of homegrown timber, trees store carbon, provide an essential home for wildlife, absorb air pollution, and are important spaces for pleasure and leisure.

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