Tag Archives: plymouth university

Glaciers existed in Britain as late as Georgian era

New evidence indicates glaciers present 11,000 years later than believed

Research led by a scientist from the University of Exeter has shown that Britain was home to small glaciers within the last few centuries – around 11,000 years later than previously thought.

Dr Stephan Harrison of Geography has established that small glaciers almost certainly existed in the Cairngorm mountain range in Scotland as recently as the 18th century, contrary to the long held belief that Britain’s last glaciers melted around the 9th millennium BC. (more…)

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Microplastics make marine worms sick

Tiny bits of plastic rubbish could spell big trouble for marine life, starting with the worms, say a team of researchers from the University of Exeter and Plymouth University who report their evidence in a pair of studies in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on December 2.

The marine worms play a key ecological role as an important source of food for other animals.

Work by Stephanie Wright from Biosciences at the University of Exeter found that if ocean sediments are heavily contaminated with microplastics, marine lugworms eat less and their energy levels suffer. A separate report, from Mark Anthony Browne on work performed at Plymouth University, shows that ingesting microplastic can also reduce the health of lugworms by delivering harmful chemicals, including hydrocarbons, antimicrobials and flame retardants to them. (more…)

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Britain’s Wildlife Will Benefit from Better Coastal Structures

*Plants and animals that live on Britain’s coasts could benefit from changes to the way coastal structures such as seawalls, breakwaters, rock armour and jetties are designed and built.*

*Research by the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth and Treweek Environmental Consultants, supported by the Environment Agency, has led to the development of recommendations for the design and construction of coastal defence structures.*

The team has produced guidance on how the ‘ecological enhancement’ of hard coastal structures can be embedded in the design and planning process, from conception through to construction.

Past research has found that hard structures are poor ecological substitutes for natural rocky shores, often supporting only a few dominant, opportunistic species such as green algae. The research team assessed the suitability of different materials, surface roughness, positioning and height for coastal habitats. They examined structures across the South West coast, including Ilfracombe in Devon and Newlyn in Cornwall, as well as looking further afield to work from Sydney Harbour in Australia and Seattle Harbour in the USA. They focused on organisms such as barnacles and limpets as these dominate many rocky shore environments and rapidly colonise hard surfaces placed in the sea, including harbour walls. Once these organisms have established themselves, other plants and animals typically follow, to the benefit of species such as salmon. (more…)

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