Environment and Ecology

SARS-CoV-2 – a natural event or a lab escape? - Ariadne

Robert Hickson May 16, 2021

In books and movies it is often a good plot point for a disease (or monster) to escape, accidentally or with assistance, from a government lab. There are also real cases of pathogens getting out of labs (but quickly being controlled). That’s also a discussion going on now about Covid-19. Natural evolution or human agency? Spillover or … Read More

How snake fangs evolved to perfectly fit their food - Hot off the press

Guest Author May 14, 2021

Silke Cleuren, Monash University; Alistair Evans, Monash University, and David Hocking, Monash University   Few structures in nature inspire more fear and fascination than the fangs of venomous snakes. These needle-like teeth are used by snakes to pierce their prey and inject deadly venom. With more than 3000 species of snake inhabiting our world, we wondered: are all their fangs … Read More

Despite major conservation efforts, populations of New Zealand’s iconic kiwi are more vulnerable than people realise - Hot off the press

Guest Author May 13, 2021

Isabel Castro, Massey University   Kiwi are moved between populations to lower the risk of inbreeding. Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust, CC BY-SA Like many endangered species, Aotearoa’s flightless and nocturnal kiwi survive only in small, fragmented and isolated populations. This leads to inbreeding and, eventually, inbreeding depression — reduced survival and fertility of offspring. Mixing kiwi from different populations … Read More

The outlook for coral reefs remains grim unless we cut emissions fast — new research - The Changing Climate

Guest Author May 11, 2021

Christopher Cornwall, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington and Verena Schoepf, University of Amsterdam   The twin stress factors of ocean warming and acidification increasingly threaten coral reefs worldwide, but relatively little is known about how various climate scenarios will affect coral reef growth rates. Our research, published today, paints a grim picture. We estimate that even … Read More

Climate explained: when Antarctica melts, will gravity changes lift up land and lower sea levels? - Climate: Explained

Robert McLachlan May 04, 2021

Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz I’ve heard the gravity changes when Antarctica melts will lower the seas around New Zealand. Will that save … Read More

Inside the world of tiny phytoplankton – microscopic algae that provide most of our oxygen - Guest Work

Guest Author Apr 30, 2021

Abigail McQuatters-Gollop, University of Plymouth Phytoplankton are microscopic algae living throughout the ocean’s surface waters. They can’t swim and are at the mercy of the currents and tides. Despite their small size, phytoplankton enable life in the oceans – and throughout the planet – to exist. There are two types of plankton – zooplankton, which are animals, and phytoplankton, which … Read More

Meet 5 of Australia’s tiniest mammals, who tread a tightrope between life and death every night - Guest Work

Guest Author Apr 29, 2021

Andrew Baker, Queensland University of Technology Australia has a rich diversity of mammals, with around 320 native, land-based species, 87% of which are found here and nowhere else. Many of these mammals are secretive, only active at night, and small, weighing less than one kilogram. Mammals are “endotherms”, which means they must generate their own heat and maintain the … Read More

Without the right financial strategies, NZ’s climate change efforts will remain unfinished business - News

Guest Author Apr 28, 2021

David Hall, Auckland University of Technology When it comes to climate change, money talks. Climate finance is critical for enabling a low-emissions transition. This involves investment and expenditure — public, private, domestic and transnational — that demonstrably contributes to climate mitigation, adaptation or both. As New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told US President Joe Biden’s virtual Leaders’ … Read More

Treated like dirt: urban soil is often overlooked as a resource - Guest Work

Guest Author Apr 27, 2021

Roisin O’Riordan, Lancaster University When you think about soil, you probably think of rolling fields of countryside. But what about urban soil? With city dwellers expected to account for 68% of the world’s population by 2050, this oft forgotten resource is increasingly important. City-based agriculture is on the rise. But urban soil is more often associated with contamination … Read More

More people die in winter than summer, but climate change may see this reverse - Hot off the press

Guest Author Apr 27, 2021

Ivan Charles Hanigan, University of Sydney; Alistair Woodward, University of Auckland, and Keith Dear Climate change not only poses enormous dangers to the planet, but also harms human health. In our study published today, we show some of the first evidence climate change has had observable impacts on Australians’ health between 1968 and 2018. We found long-term heating is … Read More