The outlook for the Mackenzie Country? Always bunny

You’re driving down a long straight roads of the Mackenzie country. Beautiful mountains and vast tussock land looking all too photogenic and some would even say majestic. And yet there are hectares upon hectares of land that are not being utilised. You wonder, is it caused by a lack of…

Let’s all become Ecologists

Climate change, deforestation and human development. We are living in a rapidly changing world and nature is responding to those changes. It is a crucial part of ecology, and science in general, to understand natural responses, in order to protect and conserve nature. Understanding usually involves several well-trained scientists spending…

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…

Taking pictures of cats… for science (honest!)

I’m sure, when the internet was in its infancy, that nobody thought a major use would be for sharing photos and videos of cats. Cats have covevolved with humans for thousands of years. If we ever needed an example of how much they control that interaction then this flood of…

Black-fronted terns, Potemkin villages and Catherine the Great

As an evolutionary biologist I am interested in the history of life and how it got to this wild, crazy biodiverse natural world. I am also interested in history in the more usual sense, how we got to this wild, crazy and diverse human world. Sometimes these interests intersect. Another…

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…

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…

Insect: Endgame

With a snap of our fingers, humans have doomed 40% of the world’s insects. Move over Thanos there is a new villain in town. A newly published international report found that 40% of the world’s insects are declining and could be extinct in a few decades! This collapse in the…

The meek shall inherit the Earth (or at least Quail Island)

Clearing an area of introduced pest species is a huge job. The goal of making New Zealand PredatorFree by 2050 is as aspirational as the moon-shot was in the 60s. Is it achievable? Of course it is. However, it require a LOT of resources, better ways of doing things that…