Site FAQ

Those are nice pictures! Can I use then in my project/book/website?

That largely depends to whom the picture belongs. If I took the photo, or drew the picture you’re after, then the answer is almost certainly yes, you can use it—with two small conditions. The first is that you e-mail me to tell me where you plan to use this picture. (This also enables me to send you a higher quality copy of the image if you need one.) The second is that you credit me as the creator. I would also appreciate a link to my website if the picture is to be used online. I prefer to review the use of my photos prior to giving permission to ensure I'm happy with the context in which they're displayed.

It is important to point out that just because a picture is on my site doesn’t mean I own it. The 2017/2018 re-design relied heavily on photos distributed under a “Creative Commons by Attribution” (CC-BY 2.0) licence, which means the images are free to use without seeking permission, provided they are appropriately credited. In addition, many very generous and talented folk have donated their work to the site. In these cases, permission to use pictures featured here is not always mine to give. If you’re after a photo that’s taken by someone other than me, it is to that person you need to direct your request. If the photographer/artist has a website, you can click their name in the credit below the image (or my Many Thanks page) to visit their site; most artists and photographers have contact forms on their websites so you can ask. Alternatively, you can e-mail me, telling me which picture you’re after and I will forward your message to the respective person and relay their response. Please bear in mind that some of the pictures featured on the site were donated several years ago and the contact e-mail I have for that photographer may no longer be active. I will do my best to contact him or her on your behalf, but I cannot guarantee to reach them or that they will respond to my e-mail.

I have some photos/drawings I'd like to contribute. How do I go about it?

Fantastic! I’m always on the lookout for some decent photos and drawings to further enhance the site. Check out my Photos Needed page, which sets out the terms for getting your images on to the site and, if you agree to them, e-mail me the pictures along with your full name and the address of your website, or a website you’d like me to link your credit to.

Note: Regarding the format of picture submitted, I leave this largely up to you. Having said this, I could do without receiving huge TIFF or RAW images, or images saved in a photo editing propriety format (which I can’t open unless I happen to have that program). In addition, my e-mail provider will bounce e-mails with attachments larger than about 10mb.

How do I cite information from this website?

If you're citing the information in an essay or dissertation it's worth bearing in mind that different editors/supervisors have different preferences for citations, so it's always best to check first. That said, the following is a common method of citing Internet sources.

In the main text:

There were, however, some much earlier records, including a report of a black or very dark grey fox on a farm in “deepest Sussex” in 1955; another from a lady who watched a black fox carrying a rabbit at Corfe Mullin in Dorset during 1980; and a record of a black fox seen in Twyford, Leicestershire in 1989 (Wildlife Online, 2017).”

Wildlife Online can then be either added under the main list of references in alphabetical order, of a separate section can be created for Internet/web resources. Either way, it would probably appear as something like:

Wildlife Online (2017): The Natural History of the Red Fox - Coat Colour, Accessed on: 10th May 2018.

Alternatively, you could treat it like a standard reference and include “Baldwin, 2017” as the citation such that the citation would read:

Baldwin, M. (2017). Wildlife Online: The Natural History of the Red Fox - Coat Colour, Accessed on: 10th May 2018.

I can provide original references for the science presented in these articles if you want to cite the source study.

Do you accept article submissions for publication on Wildlife Online?

I have been approached with content ideas on several occasions but, generally speaking, I do not publish external content on Wildlife Online as I have a clear vision for the site. That said, I am happy to discuss a particular topic with you if have a subject that you feel would be a really good fit for the site, so by all means contact me with an outline proposal.

I have spotted an error or disagree with something on your site. What should I do?

Please contact me with the details and I will endeavour to respond within 48 hours and update the site as necessary.

Why does it take so long for new content to come online?

Good things, as they say, come to those who wait. Seriously though, a considerable amount of time and effort goes into writing each article for this site.

The research phase alone involves ploughing through books, scientific papers, abstracts, web forums, contacting experts, and going out into the field to observe behaviour or verify observations, which can take many months to complete. Indeed, I often have to track down out of print books, make trips to university libraries looking for papers or request reprints from the authors or the British Library.

Once I have reached a point where I feel I have something to write about (the research is never truly complete) I have to sit down and put metaphorical pen to paper. During the writing phase many obstacles arise: I suffer writer’s block; get frustrated or despondent at not being able to explain something as clearly as I think I should; new research is published that sets me back; the sun comes out and I want to get out with my camera;I spend time with my girlfriend or friends/family; and, perhaps more of an obstacle than anything else, I work full time. Work, as most of you will be only too aware, means that my free time is precious and I sometimes struggle to spend it sat in front of a computer.

Once the write-up is complete it then goes through three stages of proof-reading by four (sometimes more) people who also have their own time commitments. Once any corrections picked up by the proofers have been made, artwork and photos need to be sorted out and the article needs to be formatted for publication online.

So, the upshot of all this is that it can take a while to prepare the articles, particularly given that most are long. As an example, the Red fox article took me about two years to research and write. The text alone for the current revision of this article, completed in October 2017, ran to 166 pages and totalled just over 112,000 words—twice the length of an average Ph.D. thesis. In the end, though, I hope that they’re worth the wait!

Are you really qualified to do this?

I’m certainly not an expert on any of the subjects presented on this site. The articles stem from my varied interests in natural history and biological sciences. In terms of qualifications, I trained as a scientist (studying natural sciences at degree and postgraduate level) and all I really do is interpret information, blend it with associated research and personal observation, and present it in what I hope is an accessible format. Unless specifically stated, I do not claim any of the information on this site to be my own research. I have built relationships with diligent researchers who have produced some of the data that I use, and I am happy either to recommend an expert or provide my own opinions on a subject.

This also raises an important point about the quality of the material on this, or indeed any, website. The great French philosopher and mathematician, René Descartes, once said: “If you would be a real seeker of truth, you first must be willing to doubt as far as possible all things.” This is very sage advice, especially when it comes to believing what you read on the Internet.

Most Internet sites (many books and TV shows, too), including this one, have no form of peer-review. In other words, nobody with experience of the topic checks the site for accuracy. Consequently, pretty much anyone can have their own little corner of cyberspace or self-publish their own book, meaning information can make it into the public domain that is either misguided, misinterpreted, or just downright false. When creating material for this site I take every care to ensure that the information I present is accurate. Invariably errors will creep in; typos are almost inevitable, despite each article going through several levels of proof reading before it appears online, and research is always underway, so the information can go out of date almost overnight. I try and combat this by giving each page a periodic review during which add details of new findings and take out that which is now thought highly unlikely. The 2017/18 redesign saw all the content on the site reviewed and most of it updated.

You can see most of the books I have used in the preparation of this site on the Recommended Reading page and I have provided links to some of the most interesting sites I came across during my research—these can be found under the appropriate sub-heading on the Links page.