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…

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…

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?…

My Grandad’s Not Batty

My Grandad is an old school farmer in Central Hawkes Bay. Although he is quick with a dry joke, he is a man of few words. However, my Grandad is extremely knowledgeable in the ways of the natural world. He seems to know substantial information on the functionality of New…

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…