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RHS Garden Wisley researcher runner-up in national wildlife recording awards

Imogen Cavadino has been named runner-up in the National Biodiversity Network Trust’s Award for Wildlife Recording – Terrestrial for her work on slugs.

The awards recognise individuals who have made a significant contribution to wildlife recording and the understanding of the UK’s biodiversity. Imogen was given the award for her work investigating the diversity and ecology of slugs in Britain through two national recording projects and her contribution to communicating the important role they play in garden ecosystems.

Imogen’s Slugs Count project generated over 3,000 records which will be added to national datasets this winter, the first time since the 1950s that a detailed species list of slugs found across UK gardens has been compiled. 60 volunteers were trained to identify slugs in their gardens, and because of the COVID-19 pandemic this was all done virtually.  

The second project run by Imogen, the RHS Cellar Slug survey, ran from March 2019 to October 2021, generating over 800 verified records of two target species of cellar slug from around the UK. The project proved hugely popular with the public and has helped fill gaps in our taxonomic and geographic knowledge of these slugs as well as providing data that is accessible to all.

Imogen began her PhD with the RHS and University of Newcastle in 2018, her research will help identify and understand the diversity of slugs and snails in UK gardens. This will give gardeners a better understanding of where control of slugs and snails is appropriate, reducing harm to other garden wildlife.

In her own time Imogen is an active biological recorder, having contributed more than 450 records on iRecord and iNaturalist (the two most popular wildlife recording apps). Perhaps more importantly, she has also verified close to 2,000 publicly-submitted records on the two platforms.

RHS research sssistant Imogen Cavadino says: “I enjoy getting out in the field and connecting to nature, but what excites me most about wildlife recording is sharing my knowledge with others and being part of the bigger picture. Slugs and snails are not always popular, so I enjoy educating others about their diversity, roles in the ecosystem and the challenges these species face. Records submitted by the public are a vital resource, especially in increasing understanding of the changes happening in our native biodiversity due to human actions, increased international trade, and climate change.”

Lisa Chilton, CEO of the NBN Trust, says: “Well-deserved congratulations to Imogen Cavadino, one of the joint-runners-up of the 2022 NBN Award for Wildlife Recording – Terrestrial.  She has made a huge contribution to our knowledge of UK slugs and has inspired so many others to start recording this understudied and underappreciated group. We are delighted to be recognising Imogen’s exceptional work with this Award!”

Winners and runners-up of five wildlife recording awards were announced at a ceremony on Wednesday 9 November at the Natural History Museum in London.

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