OPAL scientist's blog

Soil sample month

by Ed Tripp, University of Nottingham

Two hundred and fifty-seven samples collected!

It took four weeks, and a good few thousand miles, but finally all the soil samples have been collected. These have now been placed in pots, and two heather seedlings are growing in each sample.

Currently the seedlings are less than 3mm high, but within the next six months they will grow slowly, to around 5cm!


Not such a mini-beast...

During a mini-beast hunt with primary schools at Countryside Live near Leeds last week, one of the children found this not-so-mini beast.

This is an adult cockchafer (Melolontha melolonthia for those of you who like Latin!), or May bug, so-called because they are often seen crawling or flying clumsily about during this month. They commonly fly into houses at night, disorientated by the lights.


Soil Collection Begins

 by Ed Tripp, University of Nottingham

To start my nitrogen pollution experiments, I have to collect soil samples from every site.

I only need a small amount, so it won’t be damaging to the habitats. Each site has different levels of nitrogen pollution, so I am hoping that each soil sample with be different. Once I have collected the soil I will bring it back to my laboratory and grow heather in it for a number of months.


Is it a bee? Is it a fly? Actually it's a bee fly

I visited Chapman's Pond, Dringhouses (York) this morning, as the OPAL Water Centre guys were up doing some more water sampling. They visit the site every three months and do chemical, biological and physical analyses (See their pages on Aquatic Biomonitoring for more info).


Wonderful world of worms

A few months ago I knew next to nothing about earthworms - not a great situation to be in considering part of my job is to help groups do the OPAL Soil and Earthworm survey!

So I decided I'd better swat up. Lucy, who works for OPAL at the NHM , kindly pointed me in the direction of UCLAN Earthworm Research Group - this website has some great photographs of earthworms and some fascinating wormy facts. 


Introducing OPAL Yorkshire and Humber


As this is my first blog post, I thought it best to start with introductions. I'm Sarah, the Community Scientist for OPAL Yorkshire and Humber, which means it's my job to link together scientists and the public.

The OPAL Yorkshire and Humber team photo

This is a photo of the team. Left to right we have:

Piran White, who supervises Sal (far right) on her PhD



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