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Prof Charles Sheppard: Marine conservation

marine conservationOceans are the World’s most biodiverse and productive marine system, providing food and coastal protection to millions. As Science Advisor to the Commissioner of the UK Overseas Territories, Professor Charles Sheppard provided the scientific basis for the UK Government’s declaration of a strictly enforced ‘no-take’ Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the British Indian Ocean Territory (Chagos Archipelago). This is the World’s largest MPA of any kind, and is a major step forward for marine conservation and food security in a region that has undergone massive decline in ecological integrity and its ability to produce protein for many of the World’s poorest countries. Since the protected area was established in 2010, Charles’s research has demonstrated that there is a uniquely high degree of biological richness within the area. The area now serves as a global reference point for other research projects - the number of reefs around the world without direct human impacts is extremely small, so Chagos represents the rare case where scientists can examine effects of global climate change in the absence of human influence. Charles was awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List 2014 for services to environmental conservation in the British Indian Ocean Territory.

Tue 08 July 2014, 14:11

Dr Dave Chandler: Biopesticides regulation from research

biopesticides regulationCrop pests are a major constraint on the production of food crops, causing around a 40% reduction in the potential global crop yield. Since the 1960’s crop protection has been based around the intensive use of synthetic chemical pesticides. However, excessive use of pesticides can damage the environment and lead to pest management failure through pest resurgence and the development of heritable resistance. One solution is to make greater use of ‘biopesticides’ – biological control agents based on microorganisms or other natural products that can be used as part of integrated pest management. In collaboration with Prof Wyn Grant (Warwick Politics and International Studies), Dave Chandler has studied biopesticides for a number of years and, as an expert in the field, has been called upon by the EU government as a scientific advisor. Dave’s research, carried out in consultation with growers, regulators and retailers, has facilitated the implementation of a new regulatory framework for biopesticides in the UK and Europe, which has ultimately led to an increase in the use of biopesticides. Dave has also shared his expert knowledge with companies such as Waitrose and Sainsbury’s, and through international conferences and workshops.

Tue 08 July 2014, 14:11

Prof Liz Wellington: Is Mycobacterium bovis in the environment important for the persistence of bovine tuberculosis?

bovine tbResearchers in SLS led by Liz Wellington and Orin Courtenay have been investigating the microbiology of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) since 2002. bTB is caused by Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis), a pathogen that has persisted in farmed cattle for more than 100 years and has had a huge impact on the farming industry. Badgers are known to act as reservoirs for the bacteria, and cattle become infected through contact with contaminated faeces. Culling badgers as a method to control the spread of infection remains a controversial and much-debated topic. Our researchers have developed a reliable non-invasive method for detecting M. bovis in soil and faeces, which will allow the success of such control measures to be evaluated and the spread of disease to be monitored. In addition to benefits to the farming industry due to the low cost and simplicity of the test, there are also animal welfare advantages as it is no longer necessary to trap and anaesthetise badgers for invasive sampling. The research has also stimulated policy debate, and Government Minister Owen Paterson visited SLS researchers in 2013 to discuss the potential adoption of their test by Defra

Tue 08 July 2014, 14:10