- Wayne Linklater

Dr Wayne Linklater is Professor and Chair of Department of Environmental Studies in the College of Social Science and Inter-disciplinary Studies at California State University in Sacramento. His research and teaching focus on human-dimensions ecology, wildlife biology, conservation and management, and considers the roles of science in society. He worked for 15 years in New Zealand and for 8 years in southern Africa before now.

The value of our environment – learning from Proctor & Gamble - Politecol

Apr 08, 2014

Proctor & Gamble’s Dawn Ultra, New Zealand Springs. Sold in North America and listed on www.fishpond.co.nz but unavailable in New Zealand. New Zealand! The 100% purity and beauty of our freshwaters is an international inspiration… … for dishwashing liquid. Dawn Ultra, New Zealand Springs Dishwashing liquid is an environmental hazard. It adds phosphorous to the environment [1], causes river and lake eutrophication, and contributes to toxic and unsightly algal blooms. The Environmental Working Group lists Dawn Ultra, New Zealand Springs as scoring its lowest possible grade: F – Highest Concern, and warns of “Potentially significant hazards to health or the environment or poor ingredient disclosure“. The household products database warns “For external use only. Keep out of the reach of children. If Dawn gets in eyes, rinse thoroughly with water. If … Read More

Fat, well-fed cats kill too… and they do it for fun - Politecol

Mar 05, 2014

On our way down to the local corner store for the Saturday morning paper my 5- and 1-year-old daughters and I meet a feline ritual. At the front gate of a home half-way down, every day without fail stands a generously fed black moggy with white socks and nose, long hair, and an inviting purr. She sits reliably waiting for us – and many others I suspect – to walk by and give her a scratch and a pat. My daughters lavish her with love. This morning we met her as usual at her gate. She meowed and AJ, my daughter, played with her tail and the cat rubbed her arm in purrrrrfect happiness. I wondered, while waiting for the mutual love-fest to be over, how often a fat, well-fed cat kills. Perhaps hardly ever? That has been … Read More

Killing to save, saving to kill – hunting rhino - Politecol

Jan 27, 2014

Resurgent killing for horn that is then traded on the international black market for thousands of dollars a gram threatens to undo two decades of progress recovering the black rhinoceros from near extinction. Countries are mobilising and people are dying protecting rhino from international crime syndicates that out manoeuvre and out gun them. Do not underestimate our situation – we at war for biodiversity and the environment. In this context the sale of a permit to hunt a black rhino in Namibia for US$350,000 at the Dallas Safari Club created a mad furore. For many, especially of the well-to-do, comfortable, urbanites of the West, conservation hunting is oxymoronic. Neto Pule, field assistant and rhino ranger, and I shelter behind tree truncks as Alice mock charges. Black rhino can be aggressive towards people and … Read More

Annihilate, really? – show me the evidence - Politecol

Dec 18, 2013

The nation missed an important opportunity at Raglan. If cats have been removed from the Raglan community then, had we the time beforehand to prepare, we could have tested whether cats were a beneficial urban predator, as claimed here and here. Cats on evidence. Evidence on cats… and their relationship with other wildlife in our neighbourhoods. We could have measured the movements and survival of other native and exotic wildlife, like birds, reptiles, and rodents, in the area before and after cats were removed–called our scientific treatment site. Importantly, we would also have compared the changes, if any, with a similar community where cats have not been removed–called our scientific control site. Unfortunately, the scientific study has not been done or the measurements made. Nevertheless, this has not stopped some from using … Read More

Cats can’t kill it, if it is not there - Politecol

Dec 13, 2013

For cats to be a “beneficial urban predator” they must largely kill the exotic predators and competitors of native animals. Dr. John Flux believes his 17-year record of the prey one cat brought to him [1] proves that cats are good for native wildlife in cities. His belief featured prominently in the media to have a major influence on the public debate about cats and native wildlife. But John’s assertion depends on the observations of a cat that lived where most potential prey were introduced, exotic animals. What do cats kill when exotic prey is less common or native prey more common? This leads to the fifth reason why John’s logic and conclusion are flawed: 5. Cats can only kill what is available … Silvereyes, like the one pictured after its … Read More

There is always more than one cat - Politecol

Dec 07, 2013

Cats might be a “beneficial urban predator” according to Dr. John Flux and his conclusion featured prominently in the media to have a major influence on the public debate about cats and native wildlife. But Dr. Flux’s conclusion has relied heavily for evidence from just one cat [1]. Dr. John Flux, and the 17-year record of what his cat dragged in, featured prominently in the media during the debate about cats and native wildlife. But the evidence from one cat is not good enough to conclude that cats are “a beneficial urban predator” (Source: www.3news.co.nz) There are five reasons why what John’s cat dragged in is not reliable evidence for cats being good for urban wildlife. I addressed the first three in my previous posts: cats bring only a small and … Read More

Presence of native species, not evidence all is hunky-dory - Politecol

Nov 26, 2013

Just because native species persist in our backyards despite being hunted by predators, like cats, it does not mean their populations are healthy. Our backyard can be a sink-hole for native species. Each killed is replaced by recolonisers who are themsleves be killed (photo source: inhabitat.com) Cats might be a “beneficial urban predator” according to Dr. John Flux. His conclusion and its representation in media, however, has relied heavily on the 17-year record of prey John’s cat, Peng You, brought to him. But there are five reasons why John’s record cannot be used to conclude that cats are a beneficial urban predator. I addressed the first two in my previous post: cats bring only a small and biased sample of what they actually kill. John’s conclusion also depends on his … Read More

Dr. Flux’s cat misleads us - Politecol

Nov 18, 2013

Our cats bring us only a fraction, less than half, of their prey and we are less likely to see the small, more palatable prey, like small reptiles and nestlings (Source: www.kittycat.co.za). Cats are a “beneficial urban predator” according to Dr. John Flux and his conclusion featured prominently in the media to have a major influence on the public debate about cats and native wildlife. What John describes is possible but the evidence is scant. John’s conclusion and its representation in media has relied heavily on the 17-year record of prey John’s cat, Peng You, brought to him. There are five reasons why this record cannot be used to conclude that cats are a beneficial urban predator. Here are the first two: 1. Cats kill more prey than they show us – … Read More

Dr. Flux’s cat and science communication - Politecol

Nov 12, 2013

In the heat of public debate about cats and their impact on native wildlife, what scientific evidence did the media most use to inform? Mostly they used Dr. John Flux’s article [1] about one cat published in the New Zealand Journal of Zoology in 2007. Dr. John Flux’s cat, Peng You, who brought home some of the many prey she killed over 17 years, 1988-2005 (Source: Peng You – a fascinating predator – Hans Anderson: www.halifaxvet.co.nz). Dr. John Flux’s 17-year record of what his cat, Peng You, brought to him made it onto TV3’s Campbell Live, into the print media – like the Listener, several newspaper articles, editorials, and commentary, and, of course, specialist weblogs. John was invited to give a … Read More

Academic profiling – unwise, unfair, unethical, but common? - Politecol

Oct 29, 2013

University rankings can be useful. They can also be used inappropriately to discriminate inaccurately and unjustly. Dr. Mark Hauser at Harvard University – consistently amongst the world’s highest ranked universities – was found guilty of scientific miscounduct, fraudulent science in 2012 – an example of why the university a person is employed at is a poor metric of their credibility or future performance (source: www.nytimes.com) To students making enrolment decisions, or governments deciding how to invest in institutions, a university’s rank represents the relative and average quality of its measured parts – staff or student achievement, research output and influence, teaching quality, or resources. It is a population- or institution-level metric only, not a measure of any of its individuals – duh, right?! But I have observed a rise in academic profiling – university ranks sometimes also being used … Read More