Budding David Attenboroughs will have the chance to cut their naturalist teeth early next year by taking part in the Mammal Society’s third annual University Mammal Challenge.
The Mammal Society is the nation’s only charity with an interest in all UK mammals. In association with the youth nature network, A Focus on Nature, it is looking for teams of students from universities across the UK to take part in surveying for mammals on their campus.
Between 1 January and 30 June 2019, student teams will be involved in tracking and recording the presence of mammals (including non-native species such as grey squirrels) on their university campus or a specified area in their university town. Teams of up to five students will compete against each other to record as many mammals as possible within the stated time for the chance to win prizes, whilst all the while contributing to UK mammal conservation.
The Mammal Society’s Data and Information Officer, Beth Smith, took part in the Challenge last year whilst a student at Imperial College London. “Students are just as likely as anybody to forget to look at their surroundings. Taking part in the Challenge is a real eye opener, as well as a welcome distraction from sitting in a stuffy library.”
Beth continues “Last year we had a lot of fun and I was amazed by the range of species that were right on my doorstep. Our team were lucky enough to witness an interaction between a Muntjac deer and a fox. I would thoroughly encourage anybody to take part, whether you’re studying a bioscience subject or not. I’m really looking forward to hearing what next year’s teams discover.”
Twenty-five teams took part in last year’s competition and the most recorded mammal was the fox with 252 sightings. As an added bonus this year teams have the benefit of using the charity’s new Mammal Mapper App to help them record and collect data. They should find this particularly useful as it lists all UK terrestrial mammals along with photos to help with identification. This also means that records can be uploaded directly to a dedicated platform for collecting citizen science data and eventually used to further conservation.
The Challenge is open to all UK university students, whether they are studying biosciences or not. Several teams from each university are permitted to enter and applications from students attending non-campus universities are very welcome.