• Cooperation in the Aftermath of an Ecosystem Reboot

    Today’s catch lays in front of me. As I marvel at how used to the stink of dead fish I’ve become, the fisher who brought them in points out a couple of larger Arctic charr as the researchers standing by him gush over the presence of a couple of tiny sticklebacks. He is fascinated by their appreciation of the smaller fish, which I had almost mistaken for baby trout. He offers to bring in more tomorrow if he can find them. It might not seem like the most significant of interactions, but it’s one more example of the willing assistance that the researchers here have enjoyed over the last week from local fishers.

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  • The Anthropocene: A Human-Dominated Age on the Horizon

    The impact of our species on the conditions and fundamental processes on Earth is unmistakable. From carbon emissions to the cities that dominate skylines to the plastics that swirl around in our seas, the evidence of our existence can be found anywhere. And now, a group of geologists considers our impact so drastic that a new geologic epoch – the Anthropocene – should be declared.

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  • It’s Not How You Get There, But When

    This week’s paper investigates the flight of pelicans through the Sahara. Do pelicans take a quicker, less plentiful route when migrating, or the longer, more resource-filled route?

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  • Nancy Knowlton: The Importance of Earth Optimism

    At the very beginning of my PhD, I was in the audience at the STARMUS Festival when American reef biologist Nancy Knowlton gave a talk about Earth Optimism. It came just after the American President had withdrawn his support for the Paris climate agreement, and smiles regarding the state of the planet were hard to come by. So seeing an esteemed member of the scientific community give a reminder that there was hope for one of the earth’s most vulnerable ecosystem was inspiring. At this year’s International Barcode of Life Conference in Trondheim, I had the chance to sit down with Nancy and talk about why optimism is so important in the face of the many ongoing problems that the planet faces.

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  • Arguments With Your Allies

    I want to talk about a quandary I’ve encountered a few times recently, to which I still haven’t found any sort of resolution. It concerns people who have the right idea and intentions, and are helping to contribute a better world through lifestyle choices, yet have been grossly misled on a few key facts.

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  • Killing 2 Million Cats: When Broad Targets Aren’t Enough

    This week we review a paper that investigates the effectiveness and scientific basis of the Australian government’s policy to kill 2 million feral cats.

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Current Issues

Cooperation in the Aftermath of an Ecosystem Reboot

Today’s catch lays in front of me. As I marvel at how used to the stink of dead fish I’ve become, the fisher who brought them in points out a couple of larger Arctic charr as the researchers standing by him gush over the presence of a couple of tiny sticklebacks. He is fascinated by their appreciation of the smaller fish, which I had almost mistaken for baby trout. He offers to bring in more tomorrow if he can find them. It might not seem like the most significant of interactions, but it’s one more example of the willing assistance that the researchers here have enjoyed over the last week from local fishers.

The Anthropocene: A Human-Dominated Age on the Horizon

The impact of our species on the conditions and fundamental processes on Earth is unmistakable. From carbon emissions to the cities that dominate skylines to the plastics that swirl around in our seas, the evidence of our existence can be found anywhere. And now, a group of geologists considers our impact so drastic that a new geologic epoch – the Anthropocene – should be declared.

Arguments With Your Allies

I want to talk about a quandary I’ve encountered a few times recently, to which I still haven’t found any sort of resolution. It concerns people who have the right idea and intentions, and are helping to contribute a better world through lifestyle choices, yet have been grossly misled on a few key facts.

African forest elephants populations are declining rapidly due to local human pressures. But is it fair to expect other humans to live among potential threats to their livelihood?

Living Among Beasts: Sharing the Burden of Conservation

Some species of animal do a better job of capturing our attention than others. For many of us, the exotic nature of these animals is often the kicker. Think of the majesty of an elephant strolling across the savannah, or the romanticised stalk of the tiger through the jungle. Yet while the public ogles these creatures in the wild or at the local zoo and mourns the decline of their wild populations or the reported deaths of iconic individuals, we often ignore the harsh reality: that there are people who live in close proximity to these animals, to whom they represent a day-to-day threat. So how does our attitudes to charismatic species in places like Africa and Asia here need to shift, and where can we start?

From the Experts

Nancy Knowlton: The Importance of Earth Optimism

At the very beginning of my PhD, I was in the audience at the STARMUS Festival when American reef biologist Nancy Knowlton gave a talk about Earth Optimism. It came just after the American President had withdrawn his support for the Paris climate agreement, and smiles regarding the state of the planet were hard to come by. So seeing an esteemed member of the scientific community give a reminder that there was hope for one of the earth’s most vulnerable ecosystem was inspiring. At this year’s International Barcode of Life Conference in Trondheim, I had the chance to sit down with Nancy and talk about why optimism is so important in the face of the many ongoing problems that the planet faces.

Stories from the Coalface & Paper of the week

Locating Shark’s Teeth in the Phone Book

Supervisors: they’re our mentors, bosses, idols. Sometimes, they can seem almost super-human – they know everything, and find every single flaw in your work. So it can be easy to forget that your supervisors and various other higher-ups are not necessarily a species of perfect, paper mass-producing, hyper-creative geniuses, but in reality just experienced people, who still make mistakes and have “brain-farts”. The following is a personal encounter I had which serves as proof.