Sealed with a kiss: mouth fauna of NZ fur seals

I have a watch that I often wear. This watch has an old TV test pattern on the dial. [TV test pattern? Showing my age, I need to explain to those younger than 35… Back in the day, television only broadcast from morning till around midnight. It then closed down (with 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…

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…

Wondering about wandering possums: Understanding possum movement will save our livestock

New Zealand is home to many introduced species, some of which pose threats to the native flora and fauna. One such “invader” is the brushtail possum, a cat-sized and nocturnal marsupial introduced into New Zealand during the Nineteenth Century, for the fur industry. Possums have big impacts not only on the…

Drink your vegetables? Consider carefully!

Have you ever heard the term ‘juicing’? When someone is juicing, their diet is mainly fruit and vegetable juice for 3-10 days. Do you know someone who is juicing? Or have you ever considered juicing? Well, the answers from me are all yes! But, I did not do it because I…

Did the Canterbury earthquakes harm more than we realise?

The 2010/2011 Christchurch earthquake sequence claimed many lives and damaged and destroyed infrastructure located in the central business district and in the city’s suburbs. As a result, many buildings were deemed structurally unsafe and were subsequently demolished or rebuilt. However, was that really everything the earthquake sequence shattered? What about…

Handling live redback spiders: keep cool?

Mortal peril, danger, excitement, injuries, scientist. Not all of these words usually go together. People would rarely equate being a zoologist as a high risk professions. These same people are quite happy to accept the Steve Irwins and Bear Grylls of this world and appreciate the danger that they are…

The survival of the fittest?

My wife recently got a glamourous pedometer that talks to her smart phone. Not only does it tell you how many steps she has made in a day, what distance she has done and when she has had high activity periods, it also allows her to keep track of what…

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…