Category: Science

The peak of cold resistance
Post

The peak of cold resistance

Australia is hot and dry. Ask any tourist on sun-drenched Bondi Beach and they will affirm this well-known paradigm. Yet although much of our flora has adapted to thrive in our baking interior and dry open woodlands, many unique plants have evolved in a very different setting: the frigid landscape of the Australian High Country....

Remembering the Thylacine: Endangered, Extinct… Resurrected?
Post

Remembering the Thylacine: Endangered, Extinct… Resurrected?

Amid the battle to save our increasing list of threatened and endangered species it is important to remember the ones already lost to history. Threatened Species Day commemorates the date on which the last known Tasmanian Tiger died in Hobart Zoo in 1936. Though numbers had been in rapid decline for decades, it was not...

Sugarbag Bees lend a hand in Australian fruit crop pollination
Post

Sugarbag Bees lend a hand in Australian fruit crop pollination

Bee stings are worse than wedgies. Still, I’m squirming and dreading bending over while wearing this bright white bee jumpsuit. My supervisor informs me – while smirking – that the tag of the suit reads ‘Extra Large’, making it clear that my 170-centimetre stature must be considered gargantuan in the beekeeping world. There is only...

Redefining the environmental scientist
Post

Redefining the environmental scientist

Edward O. Wilson describes ‘the connections that human beings subconsciously seek with the rest of life’ as biophilia, which directly translates to a ‘love of life or living systems.’ This innate love that we have for our natural world is therefore intrinsic to our human nature and can be seen as the foundation of the...

It takes a village: saving the South-eastern Red-tailed Black-cockatoo is a community ambition
Post

It takes a village: saving the South-eastern Red-tailed Black-cockatoo is a community ambition

In Victoria’s far south-west, the Red-tailed Black-cockatoo survives in a fragmented landscape of stringybark forests within a matrix of agricultural lands. The birds here are a distinct subspecies of Red-tailed Black-cockatoo, Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne or the South-eastern Red-tailed Black-cockatoo, isolated from others of their kind by thousands of kilometres. Their life history is inextricably tied to...

The good, the bad and the prickly
Post

The good, the bad and the prickly

Beautifully strange in form, members of the Echinodermata phylum appear to drift between plant and animal. However, these unusual organisms are actually more closely related to humans than plants, or even insects. This animal group includes some of the most “sea-like” animals such as seastars, but also less appreciated ones like sand dollars and, my...

The fairy and the goblin
Post

The fairy and the goblin

Picture yourself in a forest. Damp green mosses clothe giant trees, veiled in slow swirling columns of mist. The varied calls of lyrebirds and parrots echo through the woody labyrinth as you wade through a waist-deep sea of ferns which ripple and sway against the trunks of the mighty Mountain Ash. A pantheon of small...

Ocean of wonders
Post

Ocean of wonders

‘[The Pacific Ocean] has been a frontier to explore, a space to conquer, a resource to plunder – and a place of infinite wonder…’ Have you ever wondered why the ‘Pacific’ Ocean is named that way? In November 1520, Ferdinand Magellan, after a perilous voyage through the rough seas of the Atlantic, finally reached a...

What can parasites teach us about managing koalas?
Post

What can parasites teach us about managing koalas?

Koalas are a beloved Australian icon, arguably as popular amongst tourists to Australia as the Giant Panda is for those visiting China. Yet, across their range koalas are causing a commotion amongst conservationists and land managers. The Northern Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus adustus) is threatened with extinction due to habitat loss, while the Southern Koala (Phascolarctos...