Welcome to wildthings.me. My name is Yvonne Black, and I've always been fascinated by animals and by the natural world. A long (long) time ago, at the age of 9 or thereabouts, I saw my first wild otter while walking with my uncle to buy a newspaper from a local shop, early one morning during a holiday in the west of Scotland. I waited more than 25 years to see another otter in the wild, but the experience sparked an interest which has never left me.
In 1999, I graduated from University of Glasgow with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. I worked for 15 years as a vet, during which time I studied exotic animal medicine and volunteered in a wildlife rehabilitation centre in South Africa. Eventually, my interest in wildlife took over and I enrolled in an online distance learning course on Conservation Medicine, run by the University of Edinburgh.
Conservation medicine is concerned with the ways in which the health of animals, people and the rest of the natural world are intertwined. You can read more about it here. For me, it confirmed that there is nothing more important than understanding how our wellbeing is interconnected with that of the living world in which we exist, engage and evolve. Now I am based in the Centre for Systems Studies at the University of Hull, researching the links between nature and human wellbeing.
My first-ever published article was a comment on an ethical dilemma about 'euthanasia' in 'no kill' shelters, in the veterinary journal In Practice. I argued that because animal shelters are busy and often overcrowded, we may be unable to find homes for all pets in need of them. If this makes culling necessary, we shouldn't cover it up; we should make it known. Then perhaps people will see that the underlying issues of pet overbreeding need to be tackled. This was my first foray into describing the ways in which human actions impact animal wellbeing.
Now I don't just focus on how people affect animals but also on how animals and other living things affect people. I research and write about our deeply embedded interconnections with the living world.
I’ve written in The Conversation about the value of great crested newts and other amphibians for human wellbeing, and about the prescribing of gardening to manage health issues. I've also published in a peer-reviewed journals, on the reporting of a disease (Ranavirus) which is thought to be part of the reason for severe global decines in amphibian species.
Below are links to a variety of my recent publications. These include a paper on the use of creative methods to investigate experiences of community gardening and an article on collaborative learning, which I co-authored while at the University of Edinburgh. You can also head over to my contact page, to get in touch with any comments or queries or to find links to my social media profiles (including my ResearchGate profile, where you'll find full details of all my publications). Please also visit my blog if you'd like to read more.