9 May 2019

Lower sixth Science Ambassador Matthew Buhler helped to lead the first fieldwork experiment of Phase 2 of the ASP's Royal Society Partnership Grant project.

Working with D.Phil. student Tanesha Allen, of Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), the project partners are investigating the olfactory response of the European Badger to the scent of other animals, including humans.

Science Oxford's Outdoor and Ecology Manager, Dr Roger Baker, kindly offered to host the first experiment at the brand new Stansfeld Park education centre where there is an established badger sett in an ideal location.

Pupils from project partner schools, Caldecott and Thomas Reade Primaries, worked with Matthew, Tanesha and Roger to survey the sett and then set up a network of camera traps to monitor the animals' movements.

Video from the cameras will be sent back to the schools for analysis and the pupils will then advise Tanesha on the best places to deploy her scent experiment. She explained to the pupils how she will do this by using buckets of sand laced with peanuts, a favourite badger food, as bait and vials of animal urine as the scent.

Filming the badgers while foraging and feeding will then allow her to measure their response to the presence of scent from different species as well as scent from her own study population of badgers at Wytham Woods.

This was an incredibly exciting opportunity for all involved to work on a real environmental science project, contributing to Tanesha's research, and also to be the very first ever group to visit the brand new and very impressive Stansfeld Park centre.

Roger was also able to run an owl pellet dissection workshop for the children and allowed them to take home various small skulls and bones they found.

Tanesha now plans to work with other Science Ambassadors, at Abingdon and Larkmead Schools, to set up similar experiments at Dunmore Primary and at Abingdon Prep School, both of which are promising badger locations.

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