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Mike was born in Bramhall, Cheshire, England, twenty miles south of Manchester, on the 4 December 1938.
He was educated at Cheadle Hulme School, attending from age 8 to 18 years. He read Mechanical Engineering at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology ( UMIST ), graduating in 1961.
He joined British Aerospace, progressed professionally and achieved Chartered Engineer status and membership of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.He held a number of executive positions prior to retiring in 1995.
Mike was a keen cricketer opening the bowling for school and club teams until a shoulder injury in his 40's stopped him from playing.
He married Tina Agopian in 1966, they have a son Richard and a daughter Emma. Richards son Alex, born in 2004, making Mike and Tina grandparents.
Mike has always had a keen interest in natural history, in his early years he was a keen birdwatcher, he subsequently developed a great interest in insects, becoming the youngest President of the Manchester Entomological Society at the age of 24. He is the author of a number of entomological papers, mainly faunistic studies, but some on photographic techniques for taxonomic purposes. He recently described with his co-authors, Malcolm Smart and Mike Hull, a new species of Robber Fly ( Diptera, Asilidae), Pamponerus choremii which he had discovered on Chios.
Mike was particularly interested in natural history photography and bird photography in particular. He held a Schedule 1 Licence for over ten years, mainly concerning the Kingfisher, but also other species from time to time including Little Ringed Plover and Barn Owl.
Mikes career took him to many overseas locations, often for extended periods, during which he was able to indulge in his passion for natural history in his spare time. For example several month long visits to Taiwan enabled him to visit many wonderful sites with the Wild Bird Society of Taiwan, which he had joined, and for which he contributed visit accounts published in their Journal.
On retirement Mike and Tina, who had enjoyed annual holidays on Chios for a number of years, acquired accommodation in Vrondados. Mike now spends nearly six months of the year there, Tina rather less due to her ongoing business interests in the U.K.
On retirement Mike began an association with Liverpool Museum, now renamed ‘ World Museum Liverpool ‘, undertaking a major programme of study into the Invertebrate Biodiversity of Chios with colleagues from the Museum. This work is ongoing and has been conducted under licences from the Greek Ministry of Agriculture Department of National Parks and Game Management.
Mike published the museums first Chios Invertebrate Biodiversity Report in March 2003, this report summarised the richness of the invertebrate fauna. It identified some key sites which needed to be protected from development or unintentional damage, and also demonstrated the huge potential for the development of an ‘ Eco-tourism’ industry in Chios.
This report identified the benefits which would flow into the island from Eco-tourism including financial, lifestyle enrichment, rejuvenation of old villages and new career prospects. The report identified the process by which an Eco-tourism industry could be realised in Chios. One of the recommendations concerned the provision of material needed to help inform citizens, particularly schoolchildren, about the nature of Chios. In order to meet this educational need Mike wrote a booklet ‘ The Naturalist on Chios’, this was published in English and Greek in 2004 by Pelineo Editions in Chios. It was distributed to all the junior schools in Chios, it was bought by many citizens and was distributed to visiting naturalists. It was translated into several languages and is available via websites.
The increasing media interest in Mike’s activities has resulted in a number of documentary TV programmes and interviews, generating increasing public awareness of issues involved. He has also written numerous newspaper and magazine articles .
Mike acted as a voluntary tutor in the environmental studies at the Thimiana Junior School. World Museum Liverpool donating some specialist equipment for use by the school.
Mike was a member of the organising committee of the very successful ‘ Ophrys 2005’, The 2nd International Conference on Hardy Orchids', held in Chios in April 2005.
Mike subsequently wrote a book ‘ Illustrated Checklist, Orchids of Chios, Inouses and Psara’, published by Pelineo Editions in 2005. This book being aimed at providing citizens of Chios and visitors to the island, up to date information to enable them to identify most of the orchids occurring here and to encourage further investigative visits to Chios in search of other species which had yet to be recorded.
Mike is also working closely with the organisation ‘ Chios Nature ‘, formed in 2005, whose aims include the promotion of interest in Chios natural history, helping in educational projects and supporting the identification of and protection of important wildlife sites in Chios. This organisation was founded by the Chios community in London.
Since spring 2005 Mike has lead the 'Greentours' wildlife tour company visits to Chios in April each year on their orchid seeking tour, 'Ophrys Odyssey'.
During his researches in Chios he has discovered previously undescribed species of orchids, now fully described by specialists, and added many species to the Chios checklist. His botanical interests have lead him to prepare a 'Checklist of the Flora of Chios and Adjacent Islands and the Region of Turkey to the West of Izmir', this checklist being freely viewable and downloadable through the Chios Nature website.
In 2004 Mike hosted a visit to Chios by Prof Garth Foster, aimed at surveying the water beetle fauna of Chios. This survey identified 65 species on the island.
Recent entomological investigations involving Mike have included a survey of the spider fauna of Chios with members of the British Arachnological Society, this programme, now in its fourth year, has identified over three hundred spider taxons. The current list includes a number of species new for Greece and scores of spiders which are believed to be previously undescribed and for which descriptive papers are in preparation.
Mike has also been collaborating with researchers into Hoverfly taxonomy, particularly a programme investigating the Genus Merodon. This programme required collection of specimens of all species found on Chios, samples of which were sent to Dr Gunilla Ståhls and her team in Helsinki for DNA analysis. Mike hosted visits to Chios by Prof Ante Vujić, University of Novi Stad, Prof Santos Rojo, University of Allicante and Dr Gunilla Ståhls and her team on this programme. He also visited Lesvos, hosted by Prof Theodora Petanidou, for further research. This programme has discovered previously undescribed species of Merodon in Chios, including one cryptic species whose presence was detected by DNA analysis, descriptive papers are being prepared.
The large quantity of entomological material collected under the World Museum Liverpool Entomological Biodiversity programme, obtained from extensive Malaise Trapping, Pitfall Trapping, Light Trapping and hand searching and netting is continuing to be a fruitful source of new invertebrate records. The recently published 'Checklist of the Ants of Greece' by Prof Anastasios Legakis, includes many records from the Chios programme including nine first ant records for Greece.
A major product of the Chios Invertebrate Biodiversity Study is a 'Checklist of The Lepidoptera of Chios and Lesvos', compiled by Mike and based on work in Lesvos by his museum colleague and co-worker Mike Hull, and Mikes own collecting mainly on Chios. This list now includes approximately 1100 species covering these two islands. It is planned to make this checklist available on the internet in the near future. This programme has added several species to the Greek list and has resulted in the discovery of and publication of descriptions of species new to science with further descriptions currently in preparation.
Mike has just completed a revision of his orchid book, 'Revised Illustrated Checklist, Orchids of Chios, Inouses and Psara'. This will be available early in 2012.