This Sunday 8th March 2020 is International Women’s Day and to celebrate, we thought you might like to know more about a few of the women behind the Mammal Society…
Hilary Conlan, Mammal News Magazine Editor
I am the editor of the Mammal News. This came about when the previous editor said “Hilary, Let’s have lunch”. She had taken on two new roles at Anglia Ruskin University and was overwhelmed with work and I had just come back to the university from 15 months in Mikumi National Park working with the Animal Behaviour Research Unit. Effectively I had a 15 month walking safari while collecting data on a habituated troop of baboons and running the research station.
Having been focussed on animal behaviour research in Tanzania, it was a natural progression to want to learn more about the mammal research that is happening in Britain. The Mammal Society was the obvious starting point. As editor, I am in the happy position of getting a chance to read a wide series of articles and ask researchers, consultants, students etc to provide me with articles.
One of the best things is that I can direct my university students to these articles and watch them get ideas of where their careers might go and generally inspire them.
If you’d like to receive our quartely members magazine Mammal News then click here to find out how to become a member.
Rose Toney, Training and Events Officer
As a conservationist working with communities for more than a decade, I feel the biggest challenge we face is making people care, care enough to make changes to support wildlife. And, of course, it is difficult for people to care about that which they don’t know about; this is where biological recording comes in.
As an undergraduate and master’s student I worked on primates and wildcats, but nothing makes me happier than being outdoors and discovering local wildlife. With a lifelong love of volunteering and an appreciation of how well-designed citizen science can make a huge contribution to conservation efforts, I have been fortunate to be involved in, and designed, a number of recording projects.
As an avid camera-trapper, I have enjoyed following the antics of a range of animals, including my favourite mammal, Pine Marten, in Scotland and Stone Marten in Greece. Over the last few years, I have worked with my partner to develop a technique for recording small mammals using camera traps. This technique has now been used in projects across the UK and as far afield as Florida. A clip of this in action can be seen here.
As the Training Officer for the Mammal Society, I have been working with a wonderful team of trainers to put my skills to use and help identify training needs and expand our current programme, whether that is providing courses for ecological professionals, or introducing interested individuals to how to record native UK mammals. To see some of the courses we are currently running, click here.
I also organise the Mammal Society’s three-day Spring Conference and I’m very much looking forward to bringing together students, professionals and mammal enthusiasts next month for a great programme, which will include, for the first time, Mammalwatch! To view the programme and book your place on the conference click here.
Charlie Le Marquand, Data and Information Officer
I joined the Mammal Society team in October 2019 as Data and Information Officer. I’ve always been passionate about wildlife, particularly mammals, and my research has included work on hedgehogs and foxes. During my degrees I tried to get as much experience of mammal surveying as possible including small mammal trapping, bat detecting and edible dormouse surveying. During my master’s I also took part in the Mammal Society University Mammal Challenge and really enjoyed planning survey outings with my team and watching back our camera trap footage.
After my master’s I returned home to Guernsey for a year and volunteered as Zoology Section Secretary of the local nature, history and science organisation – La Societe Guernesiaise – it was great to be involved with wildlife and conservation at home. I also worked as a journalist for a local newspaper and reported on a lot of wildlife and conservation efforts around the Channel Islands from scaly crickets, to seals to dolphins to gannets and more. I also met a lot of the people working to support the island’s natural history and it was great to be able to use my writing to celebrate their work and passion.
As much as I loved home, when I saw the Mammal Society vacancy, I couldn’t resist applying, it sounded like a dream job and I was over the moon to be offered the chance to join the team. Since then I’ve been answering all your enquiries, continuing to develop our Ecobat tool (now working on an exciting new roosts feature), supporting our volunteers, working on projects and more. Not to mention posting on our social media to keep followers updated on all the fantastic things we’ve got going on, as well as news on British mammals. I think it’s important that we never take for granted the mammals we are lucky enough to live alongside and I’m very grateful that I get to do something I am truly passionate about as a job. It’s great to be able to share that passion with others and to hear from fellow mammal lovers!
Beth Smith, Student Representative
I’m a first-year PhD student at Nottingham Trent University studying the use of livestock guarding dogs to facilitate human-carnivore co-existence in South Africa. During my master’s, I studied water voles and American mink and I help out with both edible and hazel dormouse surveys when I can. I have always loved UK nature and believe it’s really important to appreciate what is on our doorstep. That’s why I love being part of the Mammal Society as I get to help collect data to aid with the conservation of our precious mammals, many of which are sadly declining in numbers.
I first got involved during my master’s when I participated in the University Mammal Challenge, UMAC. I really enjoyed surveying the mammals on campus and the opportunities that came with it, such as conducting small mammal trapping. At the end of my master’s it just so happened that the Mammal Society were recruiting for a Data & Information Officer and I was lucky enough to be offered the position. I had a fantastic 15 months co-ordinating volunteers and research projects, answering enquiries from the public, promoting the Mammal Mapper app, editing the new Atlas, and developing Ecobat. So, when I left to pursue a PhD in December 2019, I was delighted at being offered the role of Student Representative.
I now coordinate UMAC meaning I’ve basically come full-circle! This year we have 18 teams competing from across Great Britain and I can’t wait to see how many mammals they find on their campuses. I’m also trying to promote student research on UK mammals, by encouraging students to take advantage of huge student discounts on our training courses and conferences, and am also running a new ‘Student of the Month’ feature. Students write blogs about their research, which is posted on our website’s Student Hub and social media.
I’m so pleased to be helping students to connect with one another and to hopefully keep up their passion for mammal conservation. I learnt so much from participating in the University Mammal Challenge so it’s a great feeling to now be in a position to encourage other students to take part and get involved with mammal research in the UK!
Emily Dempster, Research Assistant
My role at the Mammal Society started as volunteering and following a secondment with Waitrose and Partners I am now running the small mammal plastic project which involves me collecting samples of small mammal faeces and getting volunteers, students and wildlife groups to take part in data collection, social media posts advertising the project and lab analysis of samples sent in.
I began volunteering with the Mammal Society as Fiona Mathews is my lecturer at the University of Sussex and I became aware she was the chair of the society. This led me to get in touch and ask how I could be involved. I wanted to be involved as it is important to conserve UK mammals. Through the Mammal Society we engage the general public with the use of citizen science which is a great way of getting people interested.
I enjoy being with the Mammal Society as I am able to be involved in important research that will help conserve UK mammals, with a lovely group of people.
My current #plasticinmammals project is giving me an opportunity to run an important research study looking into plastic ingestion in small mammals. I am enjoying the ability to engage people with this issue as the BBC’s Blue Planet showed we understand the impacts of microplastics on marine species but very little is known about the effects on terrestrial species.
I hope this project will shed light on the impact of plastic waste in our terrestrial mammals and why it is important to reduce the quantity used by supermarkets.
If you would like to learn more about Emily’s project, donate to the cause or find out how else you can get involved click here.
To find out who else is behind the Mammal Society, click the link to our Meet the Team page.