Groundwater shrimp Niphargus aquilex
The blind groundwater shrimp Crangonyx subterraneus.
Within the groundwater in the rocks below our feet is a hidden world where living animals can be found. It’s a secret world that is difficult to study, and frequently forgotten as it is out of sight. In the UK these groundwater dwelling animals tend to be made up of crustaceans (which includes familiar animals such as crabs and lobsters), and range from tiny microscopic copepods to ‘larger’ shrimp like animals.
Recent survey work by Lee Knight, a freshwater ecologist, and Gareth Farr, a groundwater specialist with the Environment Agency, has found some new species to the Welsh fauna. This has included the first records for the very small amphipod Microniphargus leruthi which has now been found in a number of sites around South Wales.
Recently I joined Gareth on some fieldwork around the Bridgend area to collect some voucher specimens for the museum collections. On this particular trip we found two species not represented in the collections (and shown in the pictures). Both of these are termed ‘stygobiont’ animals, which means they are permanent inhabitants of underground environments. As a result they are characteristically white and eyeless as an adaptation to life underground.
So why does it matter that we learn about such animals and their environment? Understanding biodiversity is always important. Our whole way of life is underpinned by the environment through the food we eat, the water we drink, to the resources we use. In the case of these groundwater animals if the groundwater they live in gets polluted, then this affects not only these animals but us through contaminated water supplies. Thus even these small blind beasties have an important role to play in the sustainability of our environment.
Travel Plan for St Fagans
This week is Wales Sustainability Week – a perfect time to launch St Fagans: National History Museum Travel Plan!
We are the first national museum in Wales to launch a Travel Plan, which is all about promoting sustainable travel for both visitors and staff. This Travel Plan will ensure options for travelling by public transport, bicycle and walking are expanded and promoted.
The public transport links to the Museum have greatly improved in recent years. The local service bus from the city centre stops on-site directly outside the main visitor entrance. Go to our Planning Your Visit section http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/en/stfagans/visit/ where you can use the Traveline Cymru journey planner tool to find out how you can visit us by public transport.
Our new shuttle bus service travels everyday between the main entrance of National Museum Cardiff and St Fagans. It costs £3 return or £1.50 single. Why not make a day of it and visit the two museums? The shuttle bus timetable is on our website.
If you are feeling more energetic, the main cycle route to the Museum from Cardiff city centre is via the Ely Trail. The signposted section from Fairwater is traffic-free and follows a pleasant riverside route. Sheltered, secure cycle parking is available for visitors outside the main entrance. Lockers are available on request.
New bus & improved cycle track for St Fagans
A new bus service will be running between National Museum Cardiff and St Fagans: National History Museum from 5 April until 30 September.
Departure times from National Museum Cardiff:
10.15 / 11.15 / 12.15 / 1.15 / 14.45 / 15.45 / 16.45
Departure times from St Fagans: National History Museum:
10.45 / 11.45 / 12.45 / 14.15 / 15.15 / 16.15 / 17.15
Route from National Museum Cardiff via Cardiff Castle, Penhill Road (Halfway Pub) Llandaff Cathedral, Fairwater Green, St Fagans: National History Museum.
£1.50 single, £3.00 return starting from 5th April to 30th September 2012.
Details of bus services can be found on the Traveline Cymru website.
Improvements to the Ely Cycle Trail
The Ely cycle track that leads to St Fagans has been re - surfaced. This makes the route much more enjoyable. For more details on cycling in Cardiff visit: www.cardiff.gov.uk/cycling