The atlas is the result of over 50 years of work by former World War Two fighter pilot and science teacher, Bob George from Bournemouth, UK. The new publication, the first comprehensive atlas of fleas in Britain, is an output from the UK Biological Records Centre (BRC) run by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, UK.
Fleas are wingless insects that are usually found in the nests, or on the bodies, of a wide range of mammals and birds. They depend on the blood of birds and mammals to survive and can transmit disease within and between species of animals and on some occasions between animals and humans.
Bob George began collecting information about British and Irish fleas in 1950. Correspondence with the leading siphonapterist (flea expert), Frans Smit, and the eminent naturalist, Miriam Rothschild, encouraged him to develop his work into a national recording scheme which began in 1964.
Bob George said: “I took on fleas because no-one else would, but it has certainly provided me with a life time’s work which will hopefully go on for many more years. It is a great pleasure to see this edition of the atlas published, though when compared with that of more popular groups, such as butterflies and dragonflies, it is obvious that there is much work still to be done.”
Dr Helen Roy from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology who co-ordinates biological information for the BRC said: “The Biological Records Centre is reliant on the work done by volunteers such as Bob George. The story behind the atlas is truly inspiring, representing one man’s lifelong commitment to biological recording and natural history.”
An initial version of the ‘Flea Atlas’ was published by the BRC in 1974. The new Atlas includes distribution maps, species accounts, details about flea hosts and a range of other information.
Dr Roy added: “The new flea atlas is the latest in a long line of atlases from the Biological Records Centre which cover the wide spectrum of Britain’s flora and fauna including beetles, butterflies, mosses, lichens and dragonflies. The atlases are a vitally important resource to those engaged in understanding and managing Britain’s changing biodiversity.”
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Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
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Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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