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Choosing A Climate


The Yellow eyed leaf frog (Agalychnis annae) © Matthew O’Donnell

The earth’s climate is changing, however, the rate and direction of this change is different across much of the planet. Most regions are warming with global average surface temperature rising by 1 degree Celsius since the late 19th century. This seemingly small rise is driving dramatic shifts in our weather.

We can all see the effect of a warm hot summer, when our fruit and vegetable prices begin to rise. The lack of rainfall and extended heat waves this summer have negatively impacted the UK’s farmland, just watch the price of potatoes over the coming months! Although its not all bad news surely? We’re now producing more wine than ever, and exotic species of birds and butterflies are now beginning to call the UK home.

There will be many opportunists, who’s adaptability and mobility will allow them to take advantage of a world in flux, conquering new territories and  outcompeting native species to survive. There are lots of other species however, which have evolved and specialised to  fill very specific niches, which are vulnerable to climate change. In the Vivarium we house a number of amphibians who are increasingly finding themselves homeless due to climate change.


Lemur leaf frog (Agalychnis lemur). One of many species of amphibians impacted by climate change. © Matthew O’Donnell

Some of our most well known inhabitants, such as the yellow eyed leaf frogs (Agalychnis annae) and Lemur leaf frog (Agalychnis lemur) are found in the highlands of Costa Rica, trapped by rising temperatures in the lowlands, too hot for them to handle, and inhospitable peaks above them. As the highlands begin to warm these sensitive frogs must find new areas to live. Unfortunately frogs can not take flight and depart for more suitable habitats, just like polar bears – climate changes most high profile victim, these animals are restricted to ever smaller patches of habitat, inching their way towards extinction.

As with most cases, climate change seems to be the final nail in the coffin, that if left unchecked could push many stressed ecosystems over the edge. Species that are already declining due to diseases such as the chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis), habitat destruction, pollution and pesticides do not have the space or resilience to escape or adapt to a changing climate.

All is not lost, we still have time to pull the brakes and halt this process before we loose so much. Findings from the the authors of the landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) #SR15, stress that we have 12 years to limit temperature rises to between 1.5-2°C. When for example a rise of just 2°C would cause the complete eradication of coral reefs, it is easy to see why the worlds top climate scientists are mobilising.


To learn more about how to get involved and help make a difference follow the hashtag #GreenGB and learn more about the work Manchester Museum is involved in at all levels in helping to tackle climate change.

If not for ourselves, we owe it to those who are not as fortunate as us, those people, plants and animals that will feel the brunt of the coming changes and not be able to choose their climate.

Climate change workshop summary                    CLIMATE-CHANGE-FACILITATORS-PACK

Learning with Lucy

Lovell Lecture


Sylvia’s Tree Frog, C. sylviae © Katie Garrett

On the 17th October I will have the privilege of conducting an invited Lovell Lecture, presented with my friend and colleague Professor Amanda Bamford. The public lecture series is named in honour of Sir Bernard Lovell, the Founder and first Director of Jodrell Bank Observatory, and the evening in Cheshire promises to be something very special. Dinner is available, and to find out more about the event and how to book please follow the link below:

The World of Frogs:
Manchester Leaping into Action


Women in Nature

Manchester Museum is playing host to a number of wonderful series of after hours events in the coming weeks and months, with “Women in Nature” quickly approaching next week on 4th October. Come to this event to experience Manchester Museum like never before, be taken on an afterhours tour of our Vivarium, Living Worlds and Nature’s Library, and hear from amazing women working in nature.

To accompany this we will have the first of our monthly musical takeovers led by MCR live https://www.mcr.live/, providing a full female DJ line up, plus creative workshops and more! Everyone is welcome to attend and admission is free, just register using the eventbrite “Tickets and Information” link below. We hope to see you there!

Tickets and Information

MM After Hours Events Facebook     MM After Hours Events Twitter

Science Uncovered

We are looking forward to meeting everyone attending tonights Science Uncovered here at Manchester Museum. It promises to be a really great night with a huge range of related activities and guest speakers contributing the event. In the talks there will also be an opportunity to hear about the discovery of Sylvia’s Tree Frog and see the frog for real. Manchester is home to a group of amazing and dynamic Scientists, and lots of other ground breaking research.

Tonight we bring them together at the museum. If you available why not join us for an evening of lightening talks, debates, researcher speed dating, music and the Museum as you’ve never seen it before.

Science Uncovered Itinerary


Hello future

A week today our Ancient Worlds Galleries will be closing as over the next three years Manchester Museum will undergo an exciting £13 million transformation, hello future.

The new project will see the building of a new two-storey extension, a new South Asia gallery in partnership with The British Museum, a Chinese Culture gallery, a large Special Exhibitions hall, and a new entrance and shop, making the museum more inclusive, imaginative and relevant to the diverse communities it serves.

During this time all our Natural History galleries will remain fully open, including the Vivarium. Our new entrance will be through our Fossils Gallery, directly below the Vivarium, in the beautiful original 1885 building designed by Alfred Waterhouse.

To find out more follow #MMhellofuture


In Memory

It was with shock and great sadness that I learn’t a friend of mine passed away last week. He was buried yesterday. Ged Casserley was a very special person, very well liked by all who came into contact with him and someone I had the privilege to know.

His great interest in nature, his imagination, humour, and passion for achieving whatever he undertook resonated. I will remember Ged for the great excitement and interest he had for unusual creatures – from giant spiders to frogs with metallic eyes, from within caves in Barbados to faeries in his home studio. He would send me random emails with photographs of just amazing animals with such excitement it was impossible not to smile when I got the message in my inbox that said ‘Greetings from Saddleworth!’, and then be in awe when looking at what Ged had sent – usually with a message written in excitement for what he was sharing and also with such complimentary kind words in recognition of my work at the time.

I first met Ged not long after I first started at Manchester Museum and we instantly became friends. His enthusiasm was truly infectious. Ged was a great traditional artist, digital artist, musician, and herpetologist. He produced all the fabulous backgrounds to our public exhibits and the personal animals he provided to us include the beautiful green tree python we now have on public display.

Ged had a special place in his heart for Manchester Museum’s Vivarium. His positiveness, great encouragement and praise for all we are trying to achieve in the Vivarium has helped me greatly at times. He used to make me smile widely and I just loved his passion for the all things he was interested in. Ged was a gentleman, and a gentle man. He would graciously tip his head when saying ‘Bye bye now’, and sign off with ‘Til later..

Ged will be missed by all who knew him, for his kind unassuming manner, his great sense of humour, his unbounded enthusiasm for animals, art, and fantasy, and for just being him.

Til later Ged


Saatchi Art

Connery in Saddleworth

Flagged-Down in Vienna

Staurois latopalmatus

Staurois latopalmatus (c) George Madani

You don’t need to be a world-class gymnast, dancer or yogi to successfully articulate your intentions with your feet, you just need to be a species of foot-flagging frog!

This past weekend I was extremely fortunate to reconnect with my Bornean research roots and arrange a meeting with Dr. Doris Preininger, Scientific Associate at the astoundingly beautiful Schonbrunn Tiergarten Zoo.

I was taken into the Bornean gallery, which gave the very successful illusion that I had stepped out of the warm Viennese sun directly into the hothouse jungle.  Here, Dr. Preininger introduced me to her Bornean foot-flagging cohort, Staurois parvus and S. gutatta. I was thrilled to see the success Dr. Preininger has had with her foot-flagging frog breeding program, and the resulting tiny froglets symbolizing this success! These frogs communicate with one other over the roar of noisy streams and waterfalls found in their natural habitats using hind foot gestures, or flagging. Species of foot-flagging frogs are where Dr. Preininger has focused her work, and it was a pleasure to see the incredible gallery, and exhibits displaying all manner of native Bornean wildlife as well as these remarkable frog species.


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Unfortunately due to my excitement and the steamy conditions of the artificial jungle, I was unable to take any clear photos of the frogs themselves, so for these don’t hesitate to visit the links below to satisfy your curiosity!

Foot-Flagging Frogs      Frogs & Friends at Schonbrunn      Frogs of Borneo