A Look Back At A Transformative 2015

Who needs fireworks when you have Christmas tree worms! © Tim Sheerman-Chase


2015 has been a transformative year for Naturally Speaking. In January we added blog posts to our already popular podcast and grew from an average of seven annual posts to regular alternating weekly blog and podcast posts that together received more than 13,000 views from over 100 countries! This is an incredible accomplishment that reflects the enthusiasm and support of the whole of the Institute and that of our followers. In this post we take a look at some of the highlights from 2015.


This past year, Naturally Speaking teamed up with Institute researchers to report on exciting developments in conservation, epidemiology, evolution, physiology, and statistics. We’ve also been host to many guests on our blogs and podcasts, featuring work from researchers visiting us from the Zoological Society of London, the British Antarctic Survey, the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative, and many more.

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Together we’ve investigated the impact of globalisation, urbanisation, and climate change on plant and animal communities in places ranging from Taiwan to the Sundarban mangrove forest in Bangladesh, Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, and the bonny banks of Loch Lomond. This has led to fascinating discussions on how to balance development and conservation in increasingly human-dominated landscapes and how biological communities respond to species introductions, changing temperatures, and resource provisioning.

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Although we have learned that some governments are placing a growing emphasis on preserving biodiversity, the magnitude and extent of human exploitation is often sobering: discarded plastics are finding their way into marine food-chains, intensive fishing is altering fish evolution, and wildlife crime continues to have a devastating impact on many biological communities.

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In the world of disease dynamics and veterinary medicine, we have seen the rise of wild immunology as a way to understand how animals fight off parasitic infections in the wild; heard from veterinary researchers who are continuing to develop better treatments for our furry friends suffering from canine Cushing’s disease; witnessed how collaborative networks such as those in Canada and Sri Lanka are being used to improve wildlife disease monitoring; and found out how communities in Tanzania are working together to fight rabies, a fully preventable disease that claims upwards of fifty thousand lives each year.

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Our researchers are also quick to exploit new technologies that improve our ability to monitor and study organisms. Some exciting developments this year include an app for citizen scientists to help track “bugs and beasts” in the Serengeti and the use of thermal imaging as a non-invasive way to measure animal stress. New methods for tracking and collecting dive data are also being combined with older datasets to understand changes in Galapagos fur seal foraging behaviour over time.

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With no creature too great or too small, we’ve had exciting posts on organisms from wide-ranging wandering albatross, highly social elephants, and parasitising nematodes! On a broader scale, we’ve explored the role of biological clocks in ecology, fire dynamics in savannah ecosystems, and the ecology of ageing and immunity. We’ve produced a special feature series on our master’s programmes in Quantitative Biology and Animal Welfare as well as a brand new blog, Behind the SCENE. We’ve also touched upon current topics in science such as the role of social media and how to survive a PhD viva.

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It’s been an incredible 2015 and we owe a big thanks to all of our contributors and collaborators! We’d like to specially thank three prominent members of our team who retired from Naturally Speaking this year: James Buckley, James Grecian and our Chief Editor of Podcasts, Shaun Killen. Thank you for all your hard work, we wish you luck as you embark on the next stage of your careers!

Happy New Year from all of us at Naturally Speaking! We hope you will all help us build upon this past year’s success to make 2016 even greater.


Check out our full wordpress annual report here.













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