A threat to our mighty atmospheric guardians

For my generation, Climate change is a deep and consistent fear of an unavoidable doom. Every day we hear reports of melting icecaps, critters going extinct and magical sea creatures washing up on shore with plastic in their stomachs. For a fledgling female scientist like myself, climate change means more…

Baiting for Phytophthora species

White-baiting is a common pastime in Canterbury waterways. Fishing for the small delicacy requires a fine meshed net and a lot of patience. Lincoln University MSc student, Ashika Prasad, is fishing for even smaller creatures, fungal-like microorganisms called Phytophthora that, like whitebait, swim in our waterways.  Phytophthora are notorious plant…

Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle threatens palms in the Pacific Region

Coconut is an important crop in Pacific societies. They serve as a source of oil, fiber, food and timber. It is also an important small-holder crop that contributes to food security, improved nutrition, employment and income generation. Production of coconut is affected by the introduction of an invasive pest, the…

GMO research and environmentally concerned New Zealanders

New Zealand is a small, sparsely populate, faraway place to most people. It evokes romanticised images of wild spaces and good people who sympathise with their natural habitat. Naturally, there have always been efforts to create a meaningful identity for our country that reflects this internationally and entices visitors. ‘Clean…

The side effects of climate change you probably haven’t heard about

Climate change: the biggest environmental challenge of our time. It is impossible to escape the ongoing climate change debate. A quick google search of “climate change” when writing this blog generated 136 news articles from over the past 24 hours. It is clearly a very talked about issue and for…

What’s causing a stink? Identifying volatiles from stink bugs

Brown marmorated stink bugs are considered one of the top pests of concern for New Zealand’s horticultural industry. Armed with a characteristic shield-like shape, they are differentiated from other stink bugs present in New Zealand by a zebra-esque pattern on their abdomen and antennae. Roughly the same size as a…

Danger? New strain of rabbit disease released in New Zealand!

Imagine its August 1997. You’ve just been out to dinner with your family. You settle down for the night surrounded by everyone you love. You wake early in the morning for breakfast, everyone around you is still asleep. Or so they appear to be. You look closer at your mother…

A glass half full of fungi: Something to wine about

  At anytime of the day or night, you can be sure that someone somewhere is enjoying a glass of fruity Sauvignon Blanc, an oaky Chardonnay, or a full-bodied Pinot Noir (Fig. 1). Yes, wine.     This all-time beverage of choice for ancient Romans, aspiring sommelier’s and your average…

Sitting on the Fence: Are Predator-Proof Fences a Solution to New Zealand’s Biodiversity Challenges?

Only about a third of New Zealanders are concerned about their country’s species, while most of the public believes that native animals and plants are in a good state. In a way, it does make sense to think that New Zealand’s biodiversity is doing well. The country has a rich…

Balancing the risks and benefits of biological control

Biological control against introduced pests in New Zealand have been used constantly since the late 19th century. However, it is much harder to introduce new agents now due to regulations set by the New Zealand Governments Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), previously known as the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA). Biological control…