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University of Worcester Students Help Organise National Mammal Conference

Future scientists, ecologists and naturalists from across the country gathered at the University of Worcester for a major national conference.

The 7th Mammal Society Student Conference was part-organised by the University’s Animal Biology students, alongside the Mammal Society, and saw experts and students come together to share their work and research on a variety of mammal-related issues.

Dr Susanna Prankel, Senior Lecturer in Biology at the University, said: “Experts as well as students swapped ideas, experiences, advice, tricks of the trade and business cards. There was a lively exchange of opinions on controversial subjects such as rewilding proving how aware some students are of topical issues. It was a fantastic opportunity for students to take great steps to expand on their interests and open the door for future employment as well as changing the world we live in.”

More than 60 students had applied to showcase and discuss their research in talks and posters, including University of Worcester PhD student Samantha Law, who spoke about her research looking into lemur behaviour in captivity.

Other talks included looking at reintroduction of certain species, opinions on fox hunting, the domestic cat, porpoises, seals, pine marten and otters.

Dr John Dutton, Course Leader for Ecology at the University, gave a keynote lecture on the re-emergence of wild boar in the Forest of Dean and was also one of an expert panel to lead a discussion on rewilding, a conservation process that seeks to restore natural habitats and even missing species. Vincent Wildlife Trust (VWT) provided expert advice on current mammal conservation strategies, including a successful translocation of pine marten in mid-Wales.

Practical workshops included tracking and identifying mammals based on scat, tracks and hair samples run by Worcester Mammal Group, while VWT offered hands-on experience with setting camera and hair traps for monitoring small mammals as part of conservation efforts and taught tracking techniques on campus.

Rebecca Hubball, who lives near Pershore, was one of the attendees. She said: “There were quite a variety of topics covered and some were related to local activity as well so it was good. I’m looking at a PhD so I’m interested in Worcester and I have an interest in ecology and conservation. It’s been useful in giving me an overview of my studies.”

Dr Anthony Caravaggi, from the Mammal Society, said: “At the Mammal Society we are always delighted to see the high quality of the work conducted by our up-and-coming mammalogists and this year was no different. The talks and posters were excellent and the feedback from students was overwhelmingly positive. We’re very grateful to the University of Worcester for hosting this event, giving students the opportunity to network, meet mammal experts and add to their skills and knowledge.”