Expensive fish? The cost of marine protection in New Zealand

Nugget Point Marine Reserve Many would agree that marine reserves are a beneficial tool for the protection of precious marine ecosystems in New Zealand. Rigorous scientific studies of the impacts of marine reserve establishment, and the benefits to biodiversity, are now well documented in New Zealand and internationally. There is…

Indigenous knowledge: Māori responses to biosecurity threats

What is science? This is a big question that most people, including scientists, may never consider. Science is a huge part of our day to day lives and, today, is considered the most reliable and accurate system for learning about our world. But does this mean that it is the…

Save our bees or the consequences will sting

Save the bees! You’ve heard this before. Yet, most of us are either scared to be stung, or worse, are allergic to them. So, it can be difficult to grasp the thought that we should protect their wee bee lives. But, since we often hear about their distressing decline, they…

Extreme Makeover: Wētā Motel Edition

Think of a motel. A bright neon sign flashing “VACANCY”. A building with lots of rooms. A large car park probably. These images jump into your mind. However, for many insects, birds and lizards the reality is a lot different. To them, a motel is a place to sleep for…

Aussie beetlers and views on reviews

I really like reading reviews. My favourite magazine is Empire, which reviews movies and, increasingly, TV series. My favourite podcasts review boardgames (like The Secret Cabal and Blue Peg, Pink Peg). My favourite science journal is the Quarterly Review of Biology, which reviews recent science books. I sometimes think that…

Preparing for unknown unknowns: Canterbury, crises and climate

The last decade has been a fairly trying time for those of us living in and around Christchurch. We have had to live through earthquakes, wildfires, pandemics, and even the occasional Crusader’s loss. We are always being told to prepare for catastrophic events. But how easy or reasonable is that?…

Shelob, shorelines and sandy spiders

Anoteropsis litoralis, a wolf spider found in seashore stormwrack. Image from Bryce McQuillan (contact him for using his images) One has to wonder whether Tolkien had a fear of spiders. From Shelob in the Rings trilogy, to Ungoliant in the Simarillion, to the giant spiders of Mirkwood, spiders are feared…

Flowers: a pretty effective way to control insect crop pests

Flowering plants play a primary role in nature. Not only do they provide additional food sources, such as nectar or pollen, to a diversity of animals (like insects, birds, and spiders), but they also provide shelter for those creatures. The decline of insect populations, recently documented in parts of the…

The Price is always right!

I like to think that I am smart enough for what I do. I’ve published over 100 papers, supervised over 70 postgrads, lectured in topics from evolutionary biology, phylogenetics and taxonomy, to philosophy of biology. Obviously, there are lots of smarter people around me but I like to think that…

Alien invasions in progress

“Globalization is a fact, because of technology, because of an integrated global supply chain, because of changes in transportation. And we are not going to be able to build a wall around that.” This quote by Barack Obama, has even more relevance today than it had ten years ago. It…