Cover story: Penguins behaving badly

After 24 years I have finally completed my PhD after starting my research on penguins and other seabirds in 1990. Oh I was awarded my PhD in 1994 but the final piece of research from that study was published this week in the journal Cladistics. Just to match the gravitas of…

On the value of ecology

I often find that I have to comment on the value of ecology. One gets the sense when talking to some people that they wonder why we need to bother with ecology. Surely there are more pressing issues and more immediate uses of limited funds? This has been particularly true…

A lousy chat about the Chathams

As a lecturer you spend a lot of time talking to people. With a bit of practice most lecturers can easily fill 50 minutes with facts, figures and opinions. I enjoy talking to students (and enjoy it more when they talk back!). One thing that is a little novel is…

Puzzling colours

This blog post was written by postgraduate student Elleni Vendras as part of the course, Research Methods in Ecology (Ecol 608). Elleni revisits a Lincoln University research area that look at why leaves change colour in autumn published in 2002.Travelling in early autumn through the South Island of New Zealand,…

Southern Accent, Penguin descent

There is a great song by Tom Petty which I always find moving. ‘Southern Accent’ conveys the longing to be back home with kith and kin when you are living away – summed up by ‘there’s a southern accent, where I come from’. Having grown up on a sheep farm…

Don’t dis dispersal: evolution in Utah

Long distance dispersal is on mind at the moment. This is partly because I am sitting in an airport hotel in Los Angeles after my flight from Salt Lake City was delayed. Snowbird – a great place to have a meeting The delay meant that I could not connect with my…

The beaten track: panning panbiogeography

 A track (but not a panbiogeography one) I am an apostate. I’ve always wanted to say that but, of course, there are only certain situations in which you can say this. How did this come about? Well…. way back in the late 80s and early 90s when hair was…

DNA’s kitset models

In ecology and evolution we work with models all of the time. Perhaps, if this was more widely known, we would find our class sizes swelling. Of course students expecting long blonde hair, white teeth or rippling six packs might be a bit disappointed when they realised that models mean…

Darwin down on the farm

To Darwin, agriculture was a vital source of evidence for evolution and for natural selection. One area where Wallace disagreed with Darwin was in how useful agriculture was in explaining evolution. Wallace thought that the comparison was not very close nor was it very effective whereas Darwin devoted much space…

Buoyant moas and overweight explorers

The Third Combined meeting of the Australian and New Zealand Entomological Societies Conference has just concluded here at Lincoln University. Four days of good talks and plenaries. About 200 participants, of whom about a third were postgraduate students, made for much excellent discussion. I was involved in the opening symposium…