Fishing for possum DNA

“Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution” is a reasonably  well known quote from Theodosius Dobzhansky. It makes the point that we never really understand biology until we see it through an evolutionary filter. In recent years we could play with this quote and say “Everything in biology can make…

Who ate all the pies? Density dependent foraging between rats and possums

A Christmas tale of density dependence…. We all know the scenario. Christmas Day and you pack up the kids and wife to head to the grandparents for dinner. Lincoln to Ashburton is a fast 50 minutes of straight, flat driving over the Canterbury Plains, only enlivened by the wide Rakaia…

No prisoners! A new toxin for NZ pest mammal control

On my recent re-read of The Lord of the Rings I was struck by events that have concerned me since I read LotR as a kid, the genocidal nature of Tolkien. At the end of the major battles; Helm’s Deep, the Pelennor Fields  and at the Black Gate (and even the…

Dirty rats! Interview of Dr James Ross on controlling rodents on islands

  Rodents are the leading mammalian pest species in the world, causing management issues everywhere. Recently, Rodent pests and thier control, Second Edition was published to look at how we are progressing with managing our ratty problem. It’s been 20 years since the first edition was published and much has…

Don’t tell me what to do in my own backyard! Involving communities in conservation decisions

Everyone has seen adverts or read about how tropical forests are being cut down for human uses, such as furniture, fire wood or just to clear land for farming, which is significantly decreasing wildlife populations globally. One method to combat this decline is for governments to create nature reserves and restrict…

Burrow flaps a species saver

Chatham petrels are an endangered seabird species, endemic to New Zealand’s Chatham Islands. In 1990 Chatham petrels were classed as critically endangered, restricted to a single breeding population of 200-400 birds on Rangatira Island, and declining rapidly thanks to unsustainably low breeding success. Over 20 years of conservation effort has…

The things we leave behind

Sometimes I wonder what people would be able to deduce about me from looking at my office. If someone came in snooping I’m sure that they would get some understanding of me, even if I was absent, simply by looking at what I leave behind. Of course there are some…

Winning the battle for our birds (but losing the war?): 1080, rats, possums and the NZ bush

Sometimes common sense is not actually our friend. In our society common sense is usually seen as a virtue that those so-called experts could do with more of. But common sense can fall down on the common side of things. The All Blacks have gone into every rugby world cup…