The Grand Bugapest Hotel

Your home and garden can be a very diverse place. Often when we talk about diversity we think of it as something ‘out there’ in the wild, away from urban areas. While urban environments might not be as diverse as many locations around New Zealand, they still contain a surprising…

Chatting about prehistoric couch potatoes

Maybe we are not as inactive as we think Our hunter-gatherer ancestors may not have been much more active than we are. Allison Ballance from Radio NZ interviewed Mike Hamlin and I about this idea this evening. You can hear the conversation by here. For more read about it here….

EcoBlitzing the opposition

Canterbury Museum’s Cor Vink talks spiders in Nina Valley The 2014 EcoBlitz was a great event held at the Boyle River and Nina Valley near Lewis Pass earlier this year. The event involved over 170 high school students (from 21 schools), 30 teachers, 24 Lincoln University students and 50 biologists….

1080; A new part of the foodchain

This is not another rant about why we should or shouldn’t use 1080. I simply mean to highlight the hazards through which 1080 poses a threat to non-target species via secondary poisoning and trophic transfer. If one was however looking for such an article that stated the issues and gave…

Ecology by numbers

In which we see that maths and stats are at the heart of ecology. One of the things about aging, gracefully or otherwise, is that you obtain a better appreciation of being organised. That’s not to say that we necessarily get better at organising ourselves as we age but we…

A blue whale in the attic, many moa in the basement

Today I was fortunate to have a tour around the  collections at the Canterbury Museum. Backstage as it were. My former student, Cor Vink, is now a curator of natural history at the museum and I organised for some of my colleagues from the Department of Ecology to have a…

The hills are alive with the sounds of … research

 Mistletoe My first taste of real research was back in my third year at Otago. I was doing an animal behaviour course and a couple of other classmates and I were able to design and conduct an experiment, all on our own. We had access to the DSIR facility at…

Carpet Die-m: chemical warfare beneath your feet

In which we control wool eating insects. I like the quote from the Australian philosopher of science Kim Sterelny “Outside the barrier surrounding an [organism], we find a war against all. The space between skins is a no-mans land, controlled by no-one; designed for no-one; littered with the detritus of…

Finding your niche

In which we dwell on the problems of the niche Most people tell me that they don’t remember much about ecology from school. One thing that does remain, once you scratch the surface with some gentle probing, is the concept of the niche. The niche does have an advantage in…

A lousy chat about the Chathams

As a lecturer you spend a lot of time talking to people. With a bit of practice most lecturers can easily fill 50 minutes with facts, figures and opinions. I enjoy talking to students (and enjoy it more when they talk back!). One thing that is a little novel is…