Category: Science

What can parasites teach us about managing koalas?
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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...

On the wing of a dragon
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On the wing of a dragon

A creamy coloured egg, the size of a pinhead, drifted down through the water. It slowly sank to rest on the brown rotting leaves lying on the mud at the bottom of the still pool. Over the next day, it become yellow-brown. A day later, eyespots appeared. After two weeks, the egg was dark orange,...

I propose a mistle-toast
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I propose a mistle-toast

You may have heard about mistletoe because of its place in Christmas festivities. The tradition goes that you are able to kiss anyone who happens to stand under a sprig of mistletoe adorning doorways, ceilings, or rafters. But there are better reasons to heap praise on mistletoe than simply its ability to allow you a...

A different way to leave
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A different way to leave

I work in a university biological sciences department that has a large number of international staff and students. Shortly after the arrival of new international members to the department, once they have ventured out into the Australian bush a few times, I often hear the following summation about our landscape from them: ‘The Australian bush...

On the road to a more sustainable science
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On the road to a more sustainable science

Science is often seen as something that operates in isolation, used and trusted for producing knowledge, which is then passed on to others – the ones that will eventually make decisions – with limited continued interactions. The authors of Enhancing Science Impact: Bridging Research, Policy and Practice for Sustainability suggest that if we are to do...

Battling inertia: the role of social science in sustainability
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Battling inertia: the role of social science in sustainability

It’s a question many of us have asked ourselves: why, in the face of prolific and proliferating environmental issues, do our societies continue to do so little to avoid these impending catastrophes? Or, as the editors of the recently published Social Science and Sustainability would put it: ‘What are the reasons for inertia?’ It’s a fair...

One drop to kill them all
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One drop to kill them all

Okay, so let’s check that I’ve set this up right. The grass is in, I’ve got a little dirt mound in the corner for burrowing, some old leaves and twigs for shelter, a few rocks for an outcrop of sorts and the Coke bottle lid is filled with water so that they can drink. All...

Fleas: a life in fur and feathers
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Fleas: a life in fur and feathers

When we think of the wide variety of insects which call Australia home, we rarely think of the fleas. Compared with the more outwardly striking insects like butterflies and beetles, fleas hardly get a second thought from the most dedicated of insect buffs, let alone the average nature enthusiast. Without a doubt though, fleas are...

Are Abbott’s Boobies heading for an anty climax?
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Are Abbott’s Boobies heading for an anty climax?

I was excited to start my PhD studying seabirds on islands off the north-west coast of Australia because I would be doing research where few birdwatchers ever go. Every field trip had the potential to turn up species rarely sighted in Australian waters. At that stage I knew little about seabirds, but I was keen...