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…

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…

Is it fair, for orcs and deer?

Virtually all actions have consequences and byproducts. Often we are fixated on the actions and are later surprised with these ‘unforeseen’ outcomes. In The Lord of the Rings the main fixation is with destroying the one ring, to remove a central part of Sauron’s power. The loss of the one…

Snails meet technology

What’s the first thing you think of when someone says the word ‘animal’? Perhaps your initial thoughts were of a lion, or a bear, an eagle, or even a whale. What about invertebrates, like snails and insects? They seldom cross your mind. That’s a shame, as they are fascinating animals?…

For every season, tern, turn

Nothing is permanent. As an evolutionary biologist I am very used to the concept of change, especially slow change over long periods. As an animal behaviour scientist I am used to the concept for very rapid change over short periods. Some of my career has been spent in reconciling the…

How we used the leopard’s spots

Humans love to tell stories about the things that they see around them. All cultures have creation stories about why the world is the way it is. At a personal level we like to think that there is a narrative to our lives. No one really likes the thought that…

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…

The beetle that joined the stones

When it comes to clothes, I am a man of simple means. I don’t much like buying them. I tend to hang onto clothes and wear them for years, until entropy does it thing or washing powder stops doing its thing. New clothes generally come via my wife or as…

Of marbled cats and wedding hats

Recently, Julie and I shared our 25th wedding anniversary. It was a startling reminder of the onrushing progress of time. Sure, plenty has happened in those 25 years, children have been born and graduated from university, pets have come and gone, hundreds of students have been taught, research has been…