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Changing Perspectives in Conservation

Thu, 18 Dec 2014 12:15:44 +0000

Our views of the importance of nature and our place within have changed dramatically over the the last century, and the prevailing paradigm has profound influences on conservation from the science that is conducted to the policies that are enacted. In a recent perspectives piece for Science, GEE’s Professor Georgina Mace considered the impacts that […]

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Function Over Form: Phenotypic Integration and the Evolution of the Mammalian Skull

Mon, 08 Dec 2014 14:05:52 +0000

Our bodies are more than just a collection of independent parts – they are complex, integrated systems that rely upon precise coordination in order to function properly. In order for a leg to function as a leg, the bones, muscles, ligaments, nerves and blood vessels must all work together as an integrated whole. This concept, […]

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Phenotypic Integration and the Evolution of the Mammalian Skull
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The Best of Both Worlds:Planning for Ecosystem Win-Wins

Sun, 16 Nov 2014 12:25:44 +0000

The normal and healthy function of ecosystems is not only of importance in conserving biodiversity, it is of utmost importance for human wellbeing as well. Ecosystems provide us with a wealth of valuable ecosystem services from food to clean water and fuel, without which our societies would crumble. However it is rare that only a […]

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Planning for Ecosystem Win-Wins
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Life Aquatic: Diversity and Endemism in Freshwater Ecosystems

Thu, 06 Nov 2014 11:22:07 +0000

Freshwater ecosystems are ecologically important, providing a home to hundreds of thousands of species and offering us vital ecosystem servies. However, many freshwater species are currently threatened by habitat loss, pollution, disease and invasive species. Recent research from GEE indicates that freshwater species are at greater risk of extinction than terrestrial species. Using data on […]

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Diversity and Endemism in Freshwater Ecosystems
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Handicaps, Honesty and VisibilityWhy Are Ornaments Always Exaggerated?

Thu, 23 Oct 2014 13:30:30 +0000

Sexual selection is a form of natural selection that favours traits that increase mating success, often at the expense of survival. It is responsible for a huge variety of characteristics and behaviours we observe in nature, and most conspicuously, sexual selection explains the elaborate ornaments such as the antlers of red deer and the tail […]

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Why Are Ornaments Always Exaggerated?
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Winter tidal storm surge at Blakeney Point

24 January 2014

Blakeney Point - Old Life Boat Houses

Blakeney point, home to the UCL ecological research station, lies on the North Norfolk coast.  In early December 2013, a tidal storm surge hit much of the East coast of the UK, including Blakeney.  The surge resulted in flooding of the research station, causing some structural damage to the building, the Old Life Boat House (right side of picture), as well as the National Trust “New” Life Boat House (left side of picture).  Not the first, but certainly one of the largest inundations the old building has withstood over its 100 plus years of existence.  The force of the deluge upturned furniture and fittings, and contents have sadly been ruined.

Tide Height Record on Pantry Door

While winter storm surges are a regular occurrence at Blakeney, the magnitude of the December surge was exceptional, with flood levels approaching those of the great storm of 1953 with a tide mark recorded in the Old Life Boat House of around 4 ft (see flood marks on the pantry door).  National Trust maintained boardwalks, which protect the fragile dune system from damage by summer tourists, have been ripped out by the floods.

Seal Pup on Dunes

Impacts of the storm on the coastal vegetation and wildlife may take some time to work out.  Dunes have certainly been washed away, and the freshwater marshes behind the shingle spit have been inundated with seawater.  During the winter months, the dunes around Blakeney are home to a large colony of breeding seals, numbering in excess of 1000 adults and pups between November and January.  Initial concerns about the fate of the pups proved unfounded, as many just moved further inland. The National Trust rangers who undertake long-term monitoring of the colony confirm that the majority of pups appear to have survived. 

Interior Damage

Remedial works and repair to the Old Life Boat House have been delayed due to difficulty accessing the site as a result of investigations into a helicopter crash in nearby Cley on 7 January. 

It is expected that contractors can get to the site next week in order to be able to complete the works in March and the start of the Little Tern breeding season, when restrictions will be put in place by the National Trust to prevent nesting disturbance. (above right: Interior damage 2013)

(below: 1920's big tide)

1920's Big Tide


(below:  Shoring-up after 1953 storm)

Repair Works 1953

Page last modified on 24 jan 14 11:39