Badger Research with the BBC

Dr Dawn Scott has been working with the BBC, Natural Trust and RSPB on a research project investigating how predators (badgers and foxes) use different rural landscapes and how landscape management, such as habitats, fencing and landscape features and composition can affect their movement and habitat use.

One of the study sites is the National Trust Sherborne Estate in Gloucestershire where ‘watchers’ have been based this year. During winter Scott has trapped and collared three badgers as part of the study and she hopes to follow their movements into the Spring to see how their use of habitats change between seasons.

Scott says: “The aim of the study is to understand what affects predator habitat use in rural landscapes and use this to help inform conservation planning and to provide alternative methods of predator management.

“For example, if we need to keep predators away from a key bird-breeding area in the Spring, we need to know what landscape management approaches are likely to be most effective. Knowing this would reduce predation risk but also reduce the conflict that can occur when predators and conservation goals don’t align.”

The project will feature in Winterwatch tonight (29 January) at 9pm on BBC2.

Brighton genome expert speaking at London festival

The first person to donate his genome sequence under ‘open consent’ to the Personal Genome Project UK (PGP-UK), Professor Colin Smith, is speaking at the forthcoming Festival of Genomics in London.

Professor Smith, the University’s Professor of Functional Genomics, has recently established Brighton Genomics to investigate future potential for highlighting disease risk and revealing the genetic basis for human diseases.

A ‘genome’ comprises the complete set of DNA molecules within each cell of an organism and in 2013 Professor Smith had his whole genome sequenced and then made the donation to PGP-UK which is creating public UK genome, health, and trait data.

Genomics technologies have been at the heart of Professor Smith’s research for the past 16 years and he has been engaged in a range of interdisciplinary national and international collaborations, investigating antibiotic production by bacteria, human sleep and human nutrition.

The Festival, on 30-31 January at London’s ExCeL, will involve experts from drug companies, healthcare, patients and academic organisations who will define the future of genomics in human health and disease.

Other speakers include Sir John Chisholm, Executive Chair of Genomics England, which is creating a legacy for patients, the NHS and the UK economy, through the sequencing of 100,000 genomes, and Professor Malcolm Grant, Chairman of NHS England.

In addition to his speaking at the festival, Professor Smith is organising a Royal Society meeting for world leaders in the cutting-edge fields of ‘translatomics’ and imaging of gene expression at the single molecule level.

The Theo Murphy international scientific meeting ‘Changing views of translation: from ribosome profiling to high resolution imaging of single molecules in vivo’ will be at The Royal Society, Chicheley Hall, Buckinghamshire, Monday 5 – Tuesday, 6 March: