Cumbrian amateur photographer discovers four new species of stick insect

Published: 28 Jun 2016

Cumbrian amateur photographer discovers four new species of stick insect

Beth Ripper is an amateur photographer from Irton in Cumbria. She recently returned from eight weeks travelling in Queensland, Australia, where she was photographing and collecting data about stick and leaf insects (phasmids) in their natural habitats.

Beth’s travels were funded by a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travelling Fellowship award.

Beth’s Fellowship resulted in the production of a comprehensive data set and supporting photographs for over 350 phasmid sightings. During the expedition, at least four species new to science were found. The study has been recognised as one of the most comprehensive scientific studies on Australian phasmids ever undertaken.

“Insect conservation struggles to attract the support that glamorous ‘fur and feathers’ species receive, despite being equally important. I hope this project will inspire others in the UK to learn about insects, appreciate their ecological importance and take part in their conservation” –Beth Ripper

During her Fellowship, Beth also travelled to Melbourne to find out about the Lord Howe Island Stick-insect conservation programme, led by Melbourne Zoo. The programme aims to save the critically endangered insect from extinction. As part of an ongoing international collaboration, Bristol Zoo is now also working to establish a small colony of the insects, with support from Melbourne Zoo.

Beth will be sharing the findings from her Fellowship with the Phasmid Study Group, the international community dedicated to studying stick and leaf insects. Images and data from the expedition will also be used in relevant scientific databases and future field guides.

Read Beth’s report here.

Notes to Editors

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