National Trust for Scotland

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

National Trust for Scotland

Edinburgh, United Kingdom
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Miller G.R.,Gilbank | Geddes C.,Wester Clunes | Mardon D.K.,National Trust for Scotland
Plant Ecology and Diversity | Year: 2010

Background: The Festuca ovina-Alchemilla alpina-Silene acaulis dwarf-herb community is a rare component of the few and scattered calcareous grasslands found at high altitude in the Scottish Highlands. It contains nationally scarce and rare arctic-alpine species. The community is often heavily grazed and it has been suggested that it is a plagioclimax maintained by herbivores, principally sheep. Aim: Determine the role of sheep grazing in conserving the dwarf-herb community on Ben Lawers, Perthshire, Scotland. Methods: Sheep-proof cages were erected each spring from 1987 to 1996 and dismantled again each autumn. Species cover, the height of the vegetation, the amount of litter and the extent of bare ground were estimated every summer. Data were analysed by repeated measures analysis of variance. Results: Excluding sheep caused major shifts in the balance amongst species. Initially, graminoids and some forbs increased in cover, the vegetation increased in height and the amount of bare ground decreased. However this was followed by a decline in the cover of graminoids as bryophytes proliferated and litter accumulated. Conclusion: Sheep grazing is essential to the maintenance of the dwarf-herb community. Permanent removal of sheep might lead to the development of bryophyte-rich, tall-herb and/or scrub vegetation. © 2010 Botanical Society of Scotland and Taylor & Francis.

Miles W.T.S.,University of Glasgow | Parsons M.,Joint Nature Conservation Committee | Close A.J.,Newcastle University | Luxmoore R.,National Trust for Scotland | Furness R.W.,University of Glasgow
Ibis | Year: 2013

Many species of bird recognize acoustic and visual cues given by their predators and have complex defence adaptations to reduce predation risk. Recognition of threats posed by specific predators and specialized anti-predation behaviours are common. In this study we investigated predator recognition and anti-predation behaviours in a pelagic seabird, Leach's Storm-petrel Oceanodroma leucorhoa, at a site where predation risk from Great Skuas Stercorarius skua is exceptionally high. Leach's Storm-petrels breed in burrows and come on land only at night. Counter-predator adaptations were investigated correlatively in relation to changing natural light levels at night, and experimentally in relation to nocturnal visual and acoustic signals from Great Skuas. Colony attendance by Leach's Storm-petrels was attuned to changes in light conditions at night and was highest when nights were darkest. This behaviour is likely to reduce predation risk on land; however, specific recognition of Great Skuas and specialized defence behaviours were not found. Leach's Storm-petrels, in particular apparently non-breeding individuals, were entirely naïve to the threat posed by Great Skuas and were captured easily in a variety of different ways, on the ground and in the air. Lack of specialized behavioural adaptations in Leach's Storm-petrels against Great Skuas may be because spatial overlap of breeding distributions of these species appears to be a rare and recent phenomenon. © 2012 British Ornithologists' Union.

Stockan J.A.,Macaulay Institute | Rao S.,National Trust for Scotland | Pakeman R.,Macaulay Institute
Journal of Insect Conservation | Year: 2010

Wood ants are a dominant and ecologically important component of northern coniferous forests with interactions at many trophic levels. Each species exhibits specific habitat preferences which need to be understood if conservation measures are to be successful. In Britain, the rare narrow-headed ant Formica exsecta has disappeared from much of its former range and is now largely restricted to the highlands of Scotland where it is found in open canopy woodland and along forest edges. Nest locale of one small and vulnerable population at the edge of its current range, were compared with those of random locations within the same habitat and with actual nests within the stronghold of the Abernethy-Glenmore complex in Strathspey. After data exploration with Redundancy Analysis, stepwise multiple regression was used to create a model which best estimated the variance in nest location using a parsimonious selection of vegetation and environmental variables. The input variables included were light, soil moisture, altitude, tree stature and distribution, vegetation structure and composition, and ground characteristics. F. exsecta clearly exhibited preferences for the position of nest mounds in relation to light, vegetation and tree cover. Forest location was also important in determining which variables nests were affected by. This study highlights the importance of maintaining a dynamic mosaic of different-aged woodland enabling early successional species such as F. exsecta, with suitable areas to move to as conditions change and allowing the co-existence of all wood ant species. © 2009 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Agency: GTR | Branch: AHRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 243.02K | Year: 2012

The proposal develops an interdisciplinary system to quantify risk of historic buildings and archaeological sites to driving rain and flooding as caused by climate change; it will evaluate structural vulnerability by defining adequate impact indicators and propose adaptation strategies classified by increased resilience against loss of significance. Project activities are set within the framework of risk management and uncertainty methods.\nThe proposal addresses how the causes of damage or material change to cultural heritage can be better understood, and when is material change acceptable and damage unacceptable. \nThis requires investigation of the nature of changes and transformation in materials and of the resilience and adaptation capacity of the built heritage. The objectives of the proposal are:\n- Definition of criteria and protocols to identify acceptable limits of damage; define consistent protocols for modelling material change; use of risk, monitoring and simulation to inform life-cycle and cost/benefits studies and new or improved conservation interventions.\n- Impact of flooding, rising water level, driving rain and thermal cycles on structural integrity of historic buildings and archaeological sites\n- Assessment of novel adaptation techniques to be implemented to enhance resilience of historic buildings and sites to climate change impacts. \nThe collaboration of structural and environmental modellers and specialists in cultural heritage, working on specific case studies and supported by professional practitioners and the heritage institutional bodies, ensures robust results applicable in practice.\nRoughly dressed, rubble masonry, earth structures, infilled in timber frames, are the chosen constitutive materials as they are particularly vulnerable at joint and footing level to driving rain and flood. Hence effects of exacerbated structural damage caused by environmental agents can be successfully measured within the project timeframe. An overall approach based on extreme events statistical analysis and quantification of uncertainty will inform all aspects of the research, so that reliability will be in-built in the evaluation of the risk and adaptation measures The research will be case study based to facilitate direct feedback of results into practice. On-site monitoring and laboratory tests will be conducted, considering the combined effects of driving rain and flooding. \nThe proposed case studies areas are: Tewkesbury, scheduled area at south end of town near the Abbey; Deerhurst, archaeological sites and significant historic buildings; Cottown, Perthshire, cob walls compromised by flooding; Winchester cathedral crypt and Winchester College; York, Lendal Bridge towers and buildings on the Eastern riverbank; Bodiam Castle. The case studies have been chosen according to flooding hazard and to the diversity of age, materials, construction techniques, significance and historical documentation of the heritage buildings and archeological remains in the six areas. Their continued occupation through time allows to: gain historical perspective by looking at past adaptations to documented climate changes; investigate effects on current risk; define urgency of adaptation. Research tasks cover:\n-Survey of buildings and stakeholders of study area to identify selected buildings for in depth study\n-Study of secondary literature to identify significance of historic climate change\n-Flood and driving rain probability analysis and scenarios\n- Laser scanning and restitution of the building at different scales \n-On site monitoring and lab testing to define damage thresholds\n-Hydraulic an structural modelling\n-Assessment of resilience and validation of adaptation measures. \n-Generalisation and dissemination of results through drafting of guidelines.

News Article | December 4, 2015

The survival of seabirds including puffins and kittiwakes on St Kilda – the island archipelago home to one of the world’s most important seabird populations – is being threatened by climate change, striking new evidence shows. Naturalists have discovered that the kittiwake, a small migratory gull with ink-black wing tips, is on the brink of disappearing from St Kilda. The remote cluster of Scottish islands in the eastern Atlantic is the UK’s only place with two Unesco world heritage site listings – for its culture and natural history – and one of only 24 sites with a dual listing worldwide. The kittiwake did not breed in St Kilda this season, with just one chick born there this year after a 99% decrease in occupied nests since the 1990s. Its adult population has since halved. The number of fulmar chicks has plunged by 33% since 2005, while St Kilda’s puffin population is in persistent decline. Warming seas to the west of the Hebrides are believed to have driven the marine life the birds rely on further north into colder seas or deeper into the water, starving the birds of food. The findings from the annual bird survey by the National Trust for Scotland, the charity which owns St Kilda, have alarmed conservationists. “This data from St Kilda is really extremely worrying,” said Dr Paul Walton, head of habitats and species in Scotland for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. “We are losing whole colonies of these birds now and it’s a very serious issue. Frankly, it breaks my heart, it really does.” With crucial UN climate talks approaching their halfway point in Paris, the data underscored the case for urgent action on climate change, he said. Capping the growth in global temperatures at 2C – the target for policymakers – could be enough to allow the marine environment to adapt over time, Walton added. “There’s a very strong climate change link here that needs to go straight to Paris: what they decide there is going to determine the future of our seabirds,” he said. “We are clear on what the science is saying, that really big ecology effects of climate change are unfolding in the marine environment around Scotland right now. It’s not coming, it’s here now.” St Kilda – now regarded as one of the world’s most significant bird sanctuaries – was once inhabited by an isolated and beleaguered community whose songs and poetry heavily featured the seabirds they subsisted on before moving off the archipelago in 1930. It lies about 41 miles (66km) west of the Hebrides. When bird populations are at their highest, about 1 million birds perch on the island’s high, precipitous cliffs, sea stacs and rocky crags, hosting the world’s largest gannet colony and nearly a third of the charismatic Atlantic puffins that live around the UK and Ireland. In 1987, the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) counted 7,829 kittiwakes on the islands. Now that number stands at 3,886. When routine monitoring began 21 years ago, there were 513 occupied kittiwake nests there, with 56 chicks born. This year, researchers found just four nests, a 99.2% decrease, and a single chick. The number of fulmar nests has declined by 37% since 2002, with productivity rates well below normal levels, averaging 0.28 chicks per nest compared with 0.42 in 2005. Puffin numbers are also struggling. At 0.59 chicks per burrow, the NTS says puffin breeding is “still below the long-term average and, set against the longtime scale of the decline, suggests conditions are becoming less suitable for breeding”. Susan Bain, who manages the island for the NTS, has ruled out windfarms and overfishing as other causes for the birds’ decline. Studies of dead kittiwakes found they had not been eating their normal diet, suggesting fish had moved to follow the cooler waters. Lighter and more buoyant than their neighbouring gannets, the birds struggled to dive to the necessary depths. As a result, dead chicks were found having digested non-nutritious pipefish. “We’re seeing significant declines in the number of species, which suggests that there’s something changing in the seas,” Bain said. “We know the sea temperature is getting warmer, so the fish are moving or are at greater depths.” Bain says the headline figures are worrying, given the island’s exceptional biological significance. But she is not concerned for its Unesco status, yet. “At the moment, no, I’m not worried, but I wouldn’t want to be complacent about that either,” she said. “If these declines continue, then maybe.” Regular, long-term visitors had noticed the kittiwake’s absence, she added. “We were seeing a couple of hundred nests around the village bay in the past. Now there are four, which is devastating. It’s very noticeable. They’re statistically extinct, although we will continue to look for them next year. “It is normally a noisy place. You walk up to the cliffs and put your head over and it’s constant noise of fulmars, guillemots and razorbills. When they leave and go out to sea it’s silent, you really do notice. It would change the nature of the place significantly if that soundtrack was gone.”

News Article | April 15, 2016

Using cutting-edge laser scanning technology, archeologists are gaining new insights into a famous battle on Scottish soil that wrote a new page in history almost three hundred years ago. Seeking a better understanding of that part of British history, National Trust for Scotland (NTS) archaeologists are digitally scanning the Culloden battlefield site for a detailed model of the landscape where the Jacobites took their final stand. Nearly 2,000 men lied beneath Culloden Moor when, in 1746, the Jacobites led by Bonnie Prince Charlie last fought government troops led by William Augustus, the Duke of Cumberland. The key is Aerial LiDAR or Light Detection and Ranging, which is captured through the use of a pulsed laser beam fired from an airplane. The laser beam scans from one side to another, measuring thousands of points per second to construct a very accurate, detailed model of the ground and its features. The LiDAR data can be filtered to remove tree cover and other vegetation, allowing experts to find any archeological remains currently hidden from view. “Because we can view and light the digital model from different angles, it can pull out topographical features that we wouldn’t see in any other way,” says Stefan Sagrott, NTS’ archeological data officer. The meticulous topographical survey allows geographic information system (GIS) to peek into the positions that the opposing forces held, and to see the influence of the terrain on the results of the battle. The results will then assist in the management and conservation of the battlefield area, adds Sagrott. Plenty of prehistoric remains, such as the Clava Cairns south of the battlefield, have also been discovered and captured by the LiDAR survey. Jacobites, the supporters of the deposed James II and his descendants in their claim to the British throne after the Revolution of 1688, played a critical role in the political and religious events that beset the country during that tumultuous period. The series of Jacobite risings culminated in their defeat at Culloden, where their surprise attack was marked by opening fire at government soldiers. “Although a short battle by European standards, it was an exceptionally bloody one,” states the NTS. LiDAR is increasingly being employed in scientific missions, including looking for shipwrecks across the globe through producing a map of coastal regions in the past. The technology also proved useful in mapping native populations in North America to figure out what led to their massive population decline when European missionaries arrived. © 2016 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Beavan S.D.,The Hayes | Heckford R.J.,Natural History Museum in London | Prescott T.,Mill House | Watson D.,National Trust for Scotland | Young M.R.,Meiklepark
Entomologist's Gazette | Year: 2016

An account is given of the discovery of the larva of Kessleria fasciapennella (Stainton, 1849) amongst Parnassio palustris L. at Meall Mor, Argyll, Scotland. The larva had not been found previously in the British Isles and this is only the second British record of this species since the mid-nineteenth century. Unsuccessful searches for the species at three other Scottish localities are also reported. Previous known British records are given, differences are noted between the larval mine and larva observed in 2015 and a published account, variation in the ground colour of the forewing is recorded and differences are given between the adults of Kessleria fasciapennella and K. saxifragae (Stainton, 1868).

Miles W.,University of Glasgow | Money S.,Raintree House | Luxmoore R.,National Trust for Scotland | Furness R.W.,University of Glasgow
Bird Study | Year: 2010

Capsule When moonlight levels are low, shearwaters and storm-peirels are attracted to artificial lighting at night at St Kilda and may be killed, but impacts are lessend by deliberate light reduction measures. Aims To determine the scale and impacts of attraction of petrels artifical lights at St Kilds, investigate influences of the lunar cycle, and assess effects of reducing artificial light emission. Methods Nightly numbers of Manx Shearwaters Puffinus puffinus, Leach's Strom-petrels Oceanodroma leucorhoa and European Storm-petrels Hydrobates pelogicus attracted by artificial lights were recoded in September and October from 2005 to 2008. Effects of experimental reductions to light emissions in 2007 and 2008 were assessed, toghther with variation in annual moonlight, mortality rates, and age of birds found. Results Reductions to light emissions caused a decrease in numbers of Leach's Storm-petrels attracted, but has less effect on attraction of Manx Shearwaters. Only juveniles werre found, the majority after nights with little or no moonlight, and mortality was extremely infrequent. Only one European Storm peirel was found, and Leach's Storm-petrel and Manx Shearwater totals werre small compared with estimated breeding totals at St Kilda. Conclusions Numbers of petrels attracted to artificial lights on St Kilda were low. However, reductions to light emissions werre still beneficial in reducing numbers of young that became disorientated, grounded, or died during fledging periods. Therefore, reductions to light emissions should be encouraged. A review of this phenomenon across the UK found it to be rare in breeding areas away from St Kilda. © 2010 British Trust for Ornithology.

Watson D.,National Trust for Scotland
British Wildlife | Year: 2015

Glencoe was the second countryside property to come into the ownership of the National Trust for Scotland. Most of the ground was acquired in 1936 and 1937, primarily as a result of financial support from the Scottish Mountaineering Club, and in particular from an anonymous donor, later revealed to be its president, Percy Unna. Unna's wishes for the future management of the property have become known as the Unna Principles, providing guidance for the National Trust for Scotland in the management of this and the other mountainous properties in its care, now enshrined in the Trust's Wild Land Policy. In total, the Trust's ground at Glencoe extends to 5,680 hectares, explored here by the author. © 2015, British Wildlife Publishing. All rights reserved.

News Article | January 13, 2016

The study, carried out on a remote Hebridean island, adds to growing evidence that vitamin D—known as the sunshine vitamin—is associated with reproductive health. Experts hope that further studies will help to determine the relevance of the results for other mammals, including people. Researchers led by the University of Edinburgh measured concentrations of a marker linked to vitamin D in the blood of an unmanaged population of Soay sheep, on St Kilda. Scientists found that sheep with higher levels of vitamin D in their blood at the end of the summer went on to have more lambs in the following spring. The study offers the first evidence that an animal's vitamin D status is associated with an evolutionary advantage. Vitamin D is produced in the skin of sheep and other animals, including people, after exposure to sunlight. It can also be found in some foods, including certain types of plants. It is essential for healthy bones and teeth and has been linked to other health benefits. Many studies in the lab have linked vitamin D to reproductive health in animals and humans. This is the first evidence of the link in wild animals. Scientists carried out the research as part of a long-term study on the evolution of Soay sheep. The animals have lived wild for thousands of years on the islands of St Kilda, a world Heritage site owned and managed by the National Trust for Scotland. The research is published in the journal Scientific Reports. It was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Natural Environment Research Council. Dr Richard Mellanby, Head of Small Animal Medicine at the University's Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, who led the research, said: "Our study is the first to link vitamin D status and reproductive success in a wild animal population. "Examining the non-skeletal health benefits of vitamin D in humans is challenging because people are exposed to different amounts of sunlight each day. Studying the relationship between skin and dietary sources of vitamin D - and long term health outcomes - is more straightforward in sheep living on a small island."

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