The Science Organizations and People Involved

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University of Reading, Centre for Agri-Environmental Research

Professor Simon Potts, Dr Tom Breeze and Duncan Coston

Scientists in the University of Reading’s Centre for Agri-Environmental Research have been studying the links between pollinators and land use, farming, biodiversity and ecosystems. This has led to greater understanding of the nature of these links, how they respond to change, and their immediate and long-term value to humanity and has helped organisations create campaigns, led to new government policies, and provided guidance to international agencies, such as the United Nations.

By working together, scientists, farmers, governments and the public can all help. Apart from preserving nature for future generations, helping insect pollinators is good for business. In Britain, wild pollinators do £1.8bn worth of work pollinating our crops every year, for free.” Professor Simon Potts Director, Centre for Agri-Environmental Research

Dr Sarah Beynon and Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm

Screen Shot 2017-04-29 at 19.10.16             Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm is a 100 acre working farm, research centre and visitor attraction all about invertebrates (‘bugs’) and sustainable agriculture based just one mile from St Davids in the heart of the spectacular Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. The Bug Farm is first and foremost a scientific research centre. Under the co-supervision of Dr Sarah Beynon and a university partner, scientists and students carry out world-class, cutting-edge research, largely on farmland biodiversity, ecosystem services provided by wildlife and the future of sustainable food production.

Dr Sarah Beynon is a researcher, ecological consultant and television presenter, about her work she says ” Alongside my consultancy practice, I worked on a number of my own research projects around the World, before starting my doctorate at The University of Oxford, studying the impacts of agricultural intensification on non-target invertebrates and the ecosystem services they deliver. During the course of my research, I have had the opportunity to travel the world to follow my passion: I have led projects in countries including  Zambia, Bolivia, Brazil, America and Honduras.

Whilst I love my  work as a scientist, I am also passionate about education and the dissemination of that research. Therefore, instead of working as an academic at a university, I came back to Pembrokeshire to start-up Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm Ltd and its business arm, Dung Beetles Direct. This way, I can do both: I still work as a scientist and ecological consultant, but also work with children, the public and farmers to enthuse people about Insects and make sure that my research is delivered where it is needed – to the farmers and policy-makers.

I am a full-believer in the power of television to get your message across to a large audience. Therefore I work as a television presenter and have been lucky enough to present for, amonst others, BBC, Channel 4, Discovery Channel, Channel 5 and Animal Planet. I also co-run the other family farm with my parents, where we farm 60 acres of pasture under organic management and in the Glastir Advanced agri-environment scheme.

The Bee Lab, Bristol University

Dr Heather Whitney and Mike Harrap

The research group led by Heather Whitney, which includes Mike Harrap, is currently investigating the control of iridescence production in phylogenetically diverse leaves. Very little is known about leaf iridescence despite the fact that is found in at least 64 different species in 26 families Whitney was awarded an European Research Council (ERC) starting grant, which started January 2011, to look at the mechanisms and development of iridescence production and its genetic basis in Selaginella uncinata. This species can produce a vivid metallic blue iridescence over its surface, dependent on light conditions. The ERC starting grant is a lab-based plant development and molecular biology project focusing on developing Selaginella uncinata as a model system, and will use a transcriptome-based approach to identify the genes controlling the production of iridescence and behavioural methods to determine the impact of iridescence on animal vision.