Extreme Makeover: Wētā Motel Edition

Think of a motel. A bright neon sign flashing “VACANCY”. A building with lots of rooms. A large car park probably. These images jump into your mind. However, for many insects, birds and lizards the reality is a lot different. To them, a motel is a place to sleep for…

Yellow or purple? Colour choices of insects at the beach

When you think of the beach, what comes to mind? Do you think about basking in the sun, feeling the granules of golden sand underneath your toes, taking a refreshing dip in the blue, salty water with the waves crashing around you? To think of the plant life which thrives…

Aussie beetlers and views on reviews

I really like reading reviews. My favourite magazine is Empire, which reviews movies and, increasingly, TV series. My favourite podcasts review boardgames (like The Secret Cabal and Blue Peg, Pink Peg). My favourite science journal is the Quarterly Review of Biology, which reviews recent science books. I sometimes think that…

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…

Darwin and the Sandwalk: Mandalorian

It’s not entirely clear whether Darwin would have been distracted by cultural phenomena, like Star Wars. There were equivalents. Charles Dickens was a publishing phenomenon during the middle of the 19th century. Charles and Emma read the latest novels to each other. Bleak House (1852-53), Hard Times (1854) and Little…

How to stop, the elephant in your crop

Elephants have long fascinated me. I think it goes back to tv series from the early/mid 1970s called ‘Elephant Boy‘. This was a Australian/ English/ German production that was filmed in Sri Lanka and loosely based on the book ‘Toomai, the elephant boy‘ by Rudyard Kipling. I don’t remember a…

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…

Community adaptation planning: working with locals to achieve resilience

“Are you ready for climate change?” This was a question asked by a classmate in a planning class when I was a first-year university student. This was an awkward question to respond to.  The challenge for a first year student should be with assignment deadlines and not climate issues. Doesn’t…

Darwin and the Sandwalk: elections

I’m not sure how much Darwin followed politics in general and how interested he would have been in the USA elections. I do know that it takes up a lot of time and nervous energy for those of us living outside of the USA (and I can only imagine how…