Environment and Ecology

Kaka, cognition and how bird brains help us understand intelligence - Infrequently Asked Questions

Lynley Hargreaves Mar 23, 2017

Dr Rachael Shaw Bird brain shouldn’t be an insult anymore, says Victoria University Research Fellow Dr Rachael Shaw, because birds can do amazing things. Dr Shaw studied the cognition of a population of curious robins in Wellington’s Zealandia ecosanctuary with a Fast-Start Marsden Fund grant. Together with students, she has since found these birds may be able … Read More

What a hoot! Cheeky kea ‘laughter’ sets off playful antics - News

John Kerr Mar 21, 2017

A warbling kea squawk has been shown to trigger playful behaviour in the cheeky native parrot, which researchers have compared to laughter in humans. Kea are playful birds. They perform aerial acrobatics, chase each other through the air and have jostling play-fights on the ground.  Researchers noticed that in the midst of such behaviour kea screech a particular ‘play call.’ After documenting these … Read More

The decoupling delusion: rethinking growth and sustainability - Guest Work

Guest Work Mar 15, 2017

By James Ward, University of South Australia; Keri Chiveralls, CQUniversity Australia; Lorenzo Fioramonti, University of Pretoria; Paul Sutton, University of Denver, and Robert Costanza, Australian National University Our economy and society ultimately depend on natural resources: land, water, material (such as metals) and energy. But some scientists have recognised that … Read More

Why do so many fear the bicycle? - Public Health Expert

Public Health Expert Mar 14, 2017

By Prof Alistair Woodward, Auckland University “It is too dangerous.” This is the reason given most commonly for not riding a bike on the road in New Zealand. In this blog, I summarise a paper we have just published quantifying the risk of cycling injury. We found it to be low compared to other activites that New Zealanders commonly engage … Read More

What effect could climate change have on human aggression? - The Psychology Report

Sarb Johal Mar 13, 2017

In this Psychology Report, I talk with Dr Matt Williams from the School of Psychology at Massey University in New Zealand about the possible link between climate change and violence levels, based on this paper. You can listen to the original podcast here, as well as reading our conversation below.   Sarb Johal:   In this first … Read More

A better conservation science sector is critical… … of itself - Politecol

- Wayne Linklater Mar 11, 2017

My latest critique of conservation in New Zealand received a largely positive response, especially from others who think empathy with wildlife an important ethic. It was a busy week and so, unfortunately, I haven’t yet responded to all who telephoned and wrote. But the article also received some negative comments, especially from people who identify themselves as conservationist or … Read More

Seven tips for surviving the apocalypse - Guest Work

Guest Work Mar 10, 2017

By Lewis Dartnell, University of Westminster Billionaires who have made their fortunes in Silicon Valley seem to be worried about the future. So worried in fact, that some of them are reportedly buying vast estates in places such as New Zealand, as “apocalypse insurance” boltholes to head to in the event of doomsday scenarios such as nuclear attack … Read More

Bacteria hitch a ride on raindrop spray - News

John Kerr Mar 09, 2017

New research reveals how raindrops on soil create bioaerosols – tiny droplets of bacteria-laden water – which can help spread harmful microbes, including kiwifruit pathogen Psa. Although soil bacteria are usually pretty slow at getting around, wet weather has been suggested to give them a hand travelling large distances. But exactly how rain gets bacteria from the soil into the air has been … Read More