Identifying the killers’ next of kin: stoats, ferrets and weasels

The title of number 1 killer in New Zealand is a fairly well fought over position. There are numerous introduced species that could enter this competition. Possums, even though not especially big predators, have, through sheer weight of number, a huge impact. Cats, wild and domesticated, are super effective killers…

Habitat invasion in the Southern Alps: why no forest-orcs in Middle-earth?

I guess I was always destined to spend my life in evolution and ecology. I distinctly remember from an early age, as I read through The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, worrying about the orcs. Not whether they are scary and nasty, that was a given, but rather how they…

Kate Bush and the mongoose: character displacement and release

When my sons look back on their childhoods they will likely remember many things. Lots of cricket. Great holidays in the Catlins full of boogie boards and board games. Our big old house that could hold as many friends as they cared to bring home. And too much Kate Bush. As…

Concerning hobbits and NZ grass grub

   I’ve suggested before that The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien is a great way to prepare a young person for a career in biogeography. I would go further and suggest that The Lord of the Rings is a great way to prepare someone for ecology and evolution…

Humans help aliens invade!

Alien species are also known as invasive species. They can be any kind of organism that is not native to an ecosystem, which causes harm to the environment, the economy, human health or conservation and biodiversity. When an alien species is introduced to an ecosystem it may not have any natural predators…

Know thy self, know thy enemy: white clover chemical warfare versus grass grub herbivory

In the fifth book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series,  Douglas Adams described the universe as being “a lot more complicated than you might think, even if you start from a position of thinking it’s pretty damn complicated in the first place“. Ecological interactions between species was probably the furtherest thing from…

The answer is blowing in the wind

It is springtime here in Canterbury. That means lambs are frolicking in the fields, cricketers are filling our domains, we go from 12C, three days ago, to 26C days, yesterday. Mostly, the wind has returned (although it never really goes away). Lincoln is a windy place. Our supermarket has windmills…