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SRUC Experience Gets UWS Student Buzzing About Bees and Butterflies

Published Wednesday, 8th May 2013 in Study at SRUC news


A work placement with SRUC’s Sustainable Ecosystems Team stimulated a new interest in Agricultural Ecology for UWS student Amy Brown.

Amy is in the 3rd year of her Zoology and Biological Science degree course at the University West of Scotland in Paisley. She recently completed a 12 week work placement at Auchincruive with researchers from Scotland’s Rural College.

Amy helped SRUC’s farmland biodiversity researchers with their work into how insect pollinators utilise and move between different types of habitat in a grassland-dominated agricultural landscape in Ayrshire. Amy, a local Ayrshire lass, found it fascinating and stimulating:

“This placement at SRUC Auchincruive merges my love of the countryside with a newly found passion for insects.  My eyes have been opened to the real potential of going on to develop a career in agricultural ecology.”

During her placement Amy helped produce information leaflets for farmers summarising the research findings and assisted in surveys of hedgerow networks across the study landscape. She also gained experience in using Geographical Information System (GIS) software to manipulate and analyse spatial data and incorporate wider environmental and management information.

“Hands on experience in GIS is limited at UWS due to class size”, says Amy. “It was great to gain this additional experience here at SRUC. I have never been very confident in handling data and at first I was overwhelmed by the size of datasets.  But over the duration of my placement I quickly learned how the datasets could be easily summarised and interpreted.”

According to Dr Lorna Cole, Amy’s SRUC supervisor, the use of GIS is becoming more widespread:

“Gaining experience of using this important tool will increase Amy’s chances of gaining future employment in the ecological field. Her new found confidence in data manipulation and analyses should also prove invaluable to her when conducting her fourth-year dissertation next year.”

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