Calls for tighter reins on Japanese whaling

Sarah-Jane O'Connor Jan 21, 2016

With Japanese whalers back in the Southern Ocean and minke whales in their sights, scientists are calling for tighter reviews on the supposed scientific basis for the hunts. In a correspondence piece written to Nature, a group of representatives from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) called the science behind Japan’s hunts into question. Japanese whalers have a target of … Read More

Caught on camera: animal ‘selfies’ show forest protection works

Sarah-Jane O'Connor Jan 20, 2016

They might not know they’re on candid camera, and they certainly don’t smile, but wildlife caught on camera are helping scientists confirm their existence and prove forest protection works. Leopard (Panthera pardus) in Nouabale Ndoki National Park, Republic of Congo. Camera traps have become more commonly used to find out what wild animals do while no-one’s watching, but a study … Read More

Stillbirth risk remains high for disadvantaged women

Sarah-Jane O'Connor Jan 19, 2016

Women from lower socioeconomic backgrounds face twice the risk of stillbirths as their wealthier counterparts, a new study has detailed. Addressing the inequalities would require across-the-board improvements, including treating infections during pregnancy and improving family planning services. The Australian-led study, published today in The Lancet, suggested nearly 20,000 stillbirths could have been prevented in 2015. Though maternal and child … Read More

Distinct diets of extinct moa

Sarah-Jane O'Connor Jan 13, 2016

Extinct moa co-existed in pre-human New Zealand because they had a diverse range of diets and feeding strategies, New Zealand and Australian researchers have found. New research, published today in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, London, combining CT and MRI scans and software used after the Canterbury earthquakes has detailed the likely diet and feeding strategy of five of … Read More

Santa skepticism in line with understanding of the world

Sarah-Jane O'Connor Dec 21, 2015

Spoiler warning: Kids’ willingness to believe in Santa Claus diminishes as they become more knowledgeable about the world and the physical implausibility of Santa’s magical acts. Researchers from Los Angeles’ Occidental College tested children’s willingness to accept on trust the story of Santa Claus and his miraculous one-night round-the-world trip. Much of what we know comes from the … Read More

Two species of little blue penguins

Sarah-Jane O'Connor Dec 15, 2015

We call them little blue penguins, Australians call them fairy penguins – it turns out they are different species. A new study, published in PLOS One, compared trans-Tasman populations of little penguins and found they were different enough to be considered separate species. Researchers from the University of Otago collaborated with those from the University of Tasmania to compare … Read More

Mountains spawned diverse fish

Sarah-Jane O'Connor Dec 15, 2015

The diverse range of native fish in the South Island are thanks to the uplift of the Southern Alps, new research suggests. Research published today in Nature Geoscience, and led by the University of Otago, has drawn a link between rapid mountain-building in the South Island and the diversification of native fish.  Changes in geography have long been … Read More

A better understanding of Auckland volcanoes

Sarah-Jane O'Connor Dec 14, 2015

Tracking the source of volcanic ash has given a New Zealand researcher a better understanding of Auckland volcanoes and when they erupted. Jenni Hopkins reconstructed the volcanic history of Auckland as part of her PhD research at Victoria University in the hope of better understanding the risk posed by new eruptions in our biggest city. Auckland’s volcanic field … Read More