Tagged: ecology

Radical overhaul needed to halt Earth’s sixth great extinction event - Guest Work

Guest Work Nov 11, 2016

By Bill Laurance, James Cook University and Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University Life has existed on Earth for roughly 3.7 billion years. During that time we know of five mass extinction events — dramatic episodes when many, if not most, life forms vanished in a geological heartbeat. The most recent of these was the global … Read More

Reducing food waste could put birds and animals at risk - Guest Work

Guest Work Nov 10, 2016

By Ninah Kopel, The Conversation Well-intended efforts to reduce food waste could threaten some birds and animal species, a new paper has warned. Writing in the journal Animal Conservation, researchers have called for scientists to consider how food efficiency measures may affect animal populations that rely on landfill and other food waste to survive. The warning comes … Read More

Ancient rat dung a window into the past - News

John Kerr Nov 03, 2016

The bits of plant and animal matter found in fossilised rat poo can tell us a rich and detailed story of New Zealand’s past. Rat droppings are something most people actively avoid, but not Associate Professor Janet Wilmshurst. She has just been awarded a $830,000 grant from the Marsden Fund to take a closer look at preserved … Read More

Climate change: Biologists told to ‘pull on their boots’ and collect data - News

John Kerr Sep 11, 2016

An international team of 22 biologists have called on their colleagues to get cracking and collect certain types of data to help predict how the planet’s estimated 8.7 million species will handle a warmer future. “Our biggest challenge is pinpointing which species to concentrate on and which regions we need to allocate resources,” says Associate Professor Mark Urban from the University of Connecticut, lead author … Read More

Ice ages led to ‘explosive’ diversity in Kiwi species - News

John Kerr Sep 01, 2016

Ancient walls of ice separating kiwi populations have left their mark in the DNA of New Zealand’s most iconic species. A new study published this week in PNAS has revealed the enormous impact historic cold snaps had on the evolution of kiwis. Researchers based in Canada, in collaboration with Department of Conservation scientists, examined a database of kiwi DNA across the geographic … Read More

Climate impacts on southern species – where’s the data? - News

John Kerr Aug 23, 2016

We need to keep an eye on key species to track the impacts of climate change, but southern hemisphere countries like New Zealand and Australia are falling behind. The warning comes from South African and Australian scientists in an article published today in Austral Ecology. As the world warms, say the authors, we need long-term data to understand how plants and animals are changing … Read More

Whale of a problem: why do humpbacks protect other species? - Guest Work

Guest Work Aug 17, 2016

By Tracey Rogers, UNSW Australia A group of killer whales are on the hunt. They work together to submerge and drown a whale calf. But then more whales appear. The newly arrived humpbacks bellow a trumpet-like call, and wield their five-metre-long pectoral flippers like swords against the prowling killer whales. The killer whales are driven away from the … Read More

Tiny bird refutes ancient NZ drowning - News

John Kerr Aug 01, 2016

A tiny native bird has challenged the theory that New Zealand’s ancient land mass was completely submerged millions of years ago. DNA analysis of New Zealand wrens, just published in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, has untangled the birds’ family history as well as a larger mystery around the very origins of New Zealand. The research from the University of Adelaide focused … Read More

Deciphering Matariki: science lessons from star lore - Mātau Taiao

Laura Goodall Jun 09, 2016

It’s Matariki, a sacred time for Māori that’s named after a specific star cluster. For Waikato astronomy researcher Dr Rangi Mātāmua, traditional Māori star knowledge and Western science are not enemies but allies. His latest project uses historic star lore to shed light on modern environmental issues – and is also a deeply personal quest that began with a dying … Read More

Lessons from our worst oil spill - News

Erica Mather May 20, 2016

As thick heavy fuel oil washed ashore in the wake of the Rena grounding on the Astrolabe reef, smothering beaches and birds along the Bay of Plenty coast, public outrage mounted. Intense media coverage put pressure on environmental managers to answer difficult questions: what was the extent of the impact? How long would it take for the marine environment … Read More