The pest question: this is why you’ll always find me in the kitchen at parties

“So, what do you do?” It’s a common question that we often ask when meeting people for the first time, usually at parties or social events. For the last year or two I get a sinking feeling when I’m asked this. I usually know where it will end up. “So,…

Shock and terroir: Pinot noir from different NZ wine regions does taste different!

Pinot Noir is one of the most popular red wine varieties in New Zealand and is considered as a premium product based on the price per volume. It attracts a huge number of fans that fall in love with its a ‘little bit smoky and chocolate’ flavour, fine-grained texture, and refreshing light to…

When is a weed a weed? Canterbury’s gardening choices effect native conservation.

In the Canterbury region there is a considerable lack of native green spaces. The landscape is dominated by exotic agricultural and domestic species, which creates the now famous patckwork-esque landscape Canterbury is well known for. The sheer impact of urban and rural expansion on the Canterbury plains is very apparent….

Don’t wait for gaint eagles: Tolkien’s solution when all seems lost

Tolkien was a literature scholar and had some interesting ideas about stories and the world. One of these ideas was that of the ‘eucatastrophe’. A criticism of Tolkien’s work is that sudden unlooked for events provide happy outcomes when all seems lost. Giant eagles rescue the heroes from likely death and…

No Buzz, No Food, No Joke.

Decline of insect pollination and its economic effect on NZ crop production. Honey Bee in Apple Tree My earliest memory of wanting to become a scientist goes way back. I was only 8 years old when I imagined myself lying somewhere in the Amazon, observing the behaviour of small mammals…

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…

Kicking up a stink for the beneficial re-use of biosolids

Just 5.5% of New Zealand soils have enough natural fertility for food production. Yet here in NZ, with our trademark ‘no.8 wire can-do’ attitude, you’ll find we manage to produce a very large amount of food. When you think about it though, that’s a hefty amount of no. 8 wire…

We are all connected: Next generation ecology salvation

We live in an era of changes, where it is easy to get caught up in the rapidly changing environments. Change is a natural process, and from the early stages of our life we encounter it. For example, communication technology, from pigeon post to the use of internet and social…

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…

Ecology by the numbers

It is probably safe to say that the job description of an ecologist in 2016 is quite different from that of an ecologist back in the 1970’s or 1980’s. Our work today involves computer programs and fancy technology, some of which make our work much easier. But some appear to make…