Open air laboratories (opal)


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Dr Adam Bates

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Open air laboratories (opal)

  1. 1. Resources available from the Opal project Adam BatesGeography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK Austin Court, Birmingham – 17th September 2011
  2. 2. An introduction to Opal• Opal stands for Open Air Laboratories• ~£15million Big Lottery funding for a national project with regional support across England• Aims to help people explore, understand, protect & enjoy their local green spaces• Main theme is to do this through scientific enquiry  six Opal surveys• Lots of on-line resources available supporting natural history groups & natural history education
  3. 3. The six Opal surveys• Useful for all age groups & abilities• Can just be used as useful information resources or can take part in the survey• We are interested in everybody’s results• Results can be returned on-line or by freepost• Data analysed up to the project end October 2012  used to create a state of the environment report• On-line resources available for download indefinitely
  4. 4. Why submit information on-line?
  5. 5. Earthworms & Soil Survey• Works best in the spring & autumn when the ground is neither too dry or frozen• How do the physical properties of soil influence the distribution of different species of worm?• Resources include: – A photo guide to the identification of 12 species of worm – A method for measuring soil texture – Background information about the importance of soils & earthworms
  6. 6. Air Quality (Lichen) Survey• Any season but lichens more difficult to identify when very wet• Trees in sunny situations• Uses lichens as indicators of air quality (nitrogen pollution)• Another activity looking at tar spot on Sycamore• Resources include: – An identification guide to 9 types of lichen with varying nitrogen sensitivities – Background information on air pollution & biological indicators
  7. 7. Pond Survey• Works in any season but poorer returns in mid-summer & winter• Any pond that can be dipped safely• Uses pond invertebrates as biological indicators of pond health• Includes: – Photo identification guide to tolerant, sensitive & intermediate pond invertebrates – Small guides to amphibians, odonata & duckweeds
  8. 8. Biodiversity (Hedgerow) Survey• Tailored for autumn, but parts useful in spring & summer as well• Any hedge will do• How does hedgerow management influence the production of nuts and berries?• Includes: – A guide to 12 species of food producing hedgerow plants – Techniques for assessing the management regime of a hedge – A mini-guide to invertebrates
  9. 9. Weather Survey• Any season, different activities for different weather conditions• How does the landscape influence the wind we feel?• What factors influence our own thermal comfort?• Includes: – Cloud identification chart – Methods for measuring wind speed & direction in the sky & at ground level – Methods for measuring thermal comfort
  10. 10. Bugs Count Survey• For the spring, summer or autumn• Can be done anywhere – invertebrates on soft ground, on vegetation, or on human-made hard surfaces• How does urbanization affect the abundance & diversity of invertebrates?• Includes: – An identification guide to 6 key species – An identification guide to different invertebrate groups
  11. 11. Societies web page
  12. 12. Societies web page - guidance• Setting up a natural history group• Creating an effective website• Running public events• Funding sources available• How to record wildlife• How to run a bioblitz• Example photo consent form• Example photocall notice• Example press release• Example risk assessment• Media toolkit for societies
  13. 13. Kids zone web page • Range of activities aimed at sparking children’s interest e.g. – How to paint with soil – Nature quizzes – Word searches
  14. 14. • Identification resource for birds, invertebrates, fish, amphibians & reptiles, mammals, plants, fungi & lichens• 65 natural history societies represented e.g. – Bees, Wasps & Ants Recording Society – British Lichen Society – Hoverfly Recording Scheme – The Mammal Society – Shark Trust
  15. 15. How to get in touchContact details for each regionavailable here