Natural History Society of Northumbria Winter Lectures

Friday 15 February, 7pm-8pm                                                   

The Story of Blue-Green Algae

Illustrated talk by Professor Brian Whitton on The Story of Blue-Green Algae.

Blue-green algae are the oldest known fossils, yet are still the main photosynthetic organisms of modern oceans.  This talk covers a small part of their story, starting with interesting and sometimes very important occurrences around the world at present, and then going on to describe what you can see for yourself in northern England.

Brian Whitton is emeritus professor in Biological Sciences at Durham University.  He has been fortunate enough to study blue-green algae in many parts of the world, but his main project started in the streams of Upper Teesdale, where the remarkable dominance by one alga demanded an explanation.   Many years later he thinks he knows why.

This talk is organised by the Natural History Society of Northumbria. If you are not a member of the Society you are welcome to attend but they suggest that you make a small donation on the night to support their work (suggested £3).

Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start. Entry is via the rear of the museum.

 

Friday 22 February, 7pm-8pm                                                             

Red Squirrels – Are we still sending out an SOS?

Illustrated talk by Nick Mason about Red Squirrel conservation in the North East.

Red Squirrel range in the UK continues to decline due the impacts of competition and disease associated with the non-native Grey Squirrel. In England, the Red Squirrels Northern England (RSNE) partnership is tackling these issues head on with an ambitious conservation programme underpinned by sound science. Nick Mason, RSNE Project Manager, will discuss first year results and highlight some of the exciting developments planned for 2013.

This talk is organised by the Natural History Society of Northumbria. If you are not a member of the Society you are welcome to attend but they suggest that you make a small donation on the night to support their work (suggested £3).

Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start. Entry is via the rear of the museum.

 

Friday 1 March                                                                                     

Glaciers around Mount Everest

Illustrated talk by Dr. Ian Evans about the debris-covered glaciers of Khumbu.

Valley glaciers of Khumbu Himal are characterized by irregular relief on debris-covered surfaces, due to the high relief, rockfall and differential ablation.  Many of their sources are hanging, frozen to steep cliffs.  They are shrinking by downwasting more than by frontal 

retreat.  As ablation is fastest just below the snowline, before debris cover builds up, more glaciers will split into hanging and buried sections, which will survive for centuries. Dr Ian Evans, Emeritus Reader in the Department of Geography at Durham University, will explain the workings of the glaciers around Mount Everest.

This talk is organised by the Natural History Society of Northumbria. If you are not a member of the Society you are welcome to attend but they suggest that you make a small donation on the night to support their work (suggested £3).

Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start. Entry is via the rear of the museum.

 

Friday 8 March                                                                        

John Gould: The story of the Bird Man and how the Victorians discovered the natural world

Illustrated talk by local artist David Lowther.

John Gould is a man often forgotten. Eclipsed by the giants of Darwinism, Gould – ‘the Bird Man’ - has been consigned to an earlier scientific tradition. It is the way of science to forget those who do not fit easily into the current way of thinking. Yet between 1830 and his death in 1881, Gould was one of Britain’s most visible scientific luminaries. His books depicting the birds of the world were celebrated for their beauty, on a par with even the great Audubon. A man of many parts, an artist and explorer, a naturalist and publisher, Gould’s folio works provide us with a valuable insight into how Victorian society viewed the world around it.

In this lecture we will trace the development of Britain’s fascination with the natural world prior to the great upheavals of the 1850s and 1860s, and see how Gould fitted into the wider scientific and cultural environment. We will see which sections of society were attracted to Gould’s work and why it has exerted a lasting attraction beyond the nineteenth century. In so doing, we will arrive at a more complete picture of one of the most important, formative periods in British scientific history.

David Lowther is a PhD student of History at Newcastle University, specialising in the history and philosophy of science. His interest in John Gould stems from his own activities as a wildlife artist. Elected to the Linnean Society in 2011, he has produced work for use by the RSPB and International Crane Foundation, and has exhibited widely in the U.K. and U.S.A.

This talk is organised by the Natural History Society of Northumbria. If you are not a member of the Society you are welcome to attend but they suggest that you make a small donation on the night to support their work (suggested £3).

Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start. Entry is via the rear of the museum.

 

Friday 15 March                                                                        

Britain’s National Vegetation Classification and the characteristic plant communities of North East England

Illustrated talk by local botanist John O’Reilly.

Our National Vegetation Classification (NVC) developed from continental plant sociology of the mid-twentieth century. John O’Reilly will describe the system and how it, and its floristic tables, work (is there indeed such a thing as a ‘plant community’?). He will go on to describe some of the important NVC communities of North East England, including those communities which are particularly common and others that are special to our region.

John O'Reilly is vice-county recorder for bryophytes for Northumberland and County Durham. He is an ecological consultant, and until recently was employed by the North Pennines AONB on a project to restore species rich meadows, which are NVC code MG3, a plant community that is one of our specialities.

This talk is organised by the Natural History Society of Northumbria. If you are not a member of the Society you are welcome to attend but they suggest that you make a small donation on the night to support their work (suggested £3).

Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start. Entry is via the rear of the museum.