Summer success for ballooners: spiders take the high road

New Zealand is renowned for the changes that have been wrought on it by humans.  First by Maori, then by Europeans.  One of the long term changes created by Maori have been the tussock grasslands of Canterbury, Southland and Otago.  The local fauna have adapted and created their own ecosystem.  Over the…

Darwin and the Sandwalk: Crimea

One thing that I haven’t seen a lot of in the various books and papers on the life of Darwin was how he dealt with the news and issues of the day. The lead up to the publishing  of the Origin were troubling and eventful days. At the start of…

Predafiles: how to solve the problem of pest mammals in NZ

Pest mammal control, in particular the use of 1080, has long been a hot topic in New Zealand. Feratox owner, Jeremy Kerr did an excellent job of reigniting the 1080 debate last year when he threatened to contaminate baby powder with the toxin. The media storm that followed highlighted the polarising nature…

The ebb and flow of soil

Loss of soil, although not recognised by many, is one of the major problems that society has to face. It provides habitat for a variety of species, influences the hydrological cycle by its water holding capacity and, therefore, affects vegetation. Soil has a large impact on agriculture because of its…

Bonzer! Feratox poison controls Dama Wallaby populations in New Zealand

Since their introduction to New Zealand in 1870, Dama Wallabies (Macropus eugenii, endemic to Australia) have been responsible for the degradation of large tracts of native habitat. Concerns about the destruction of native ecosystems have become so severe that scientists working with the New Zealand Government have been working on…

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…

The invasion of Californian Thistle (and how to fight back!)

Since 1878, the dreaded Californian thistle has caused mayhem throughout New Zealand farms! It is very problematic to the country’s pastoral farming systems, costing close to $700 million each year. The invaders have been subjected to a continuous battle with herbicides. This has been an effective, if costly, method of control…

Don’t disturb the New Zealanders: our effect on native plants

Although the 40-hour long flight to New Zealand was long and tiring, it took me no longer than an hour to be surprised by how many European plants there were in Christchurch. Some of my favorite plants from home flower were here in abundance. At the same time, it is…

Small pieces of marine species in seal faeces

It’s always intriguing discovering what people like to eat. Eating is a reasonably private process. Sure we can go out for meals with friends or grab a bite with colleagues but we are choosing from a restricted menu (and the food on offer is different to what you would have…

It’s all about the birds, but what about the bugs?

Predator control by poisons is considered a must by many in New Zealand. This is a touchy subject to approach as people’s opinions tend to be polarised with arguments for and against. These are particularly focused on how humane these controls are, and the risk to non-target species, especially birds….