Oral vaccines, rare ecosystems and microplastic map

Black summer bushfire research, a vaccine against a childhood virus and a science education program for Indigenous students are among the winners of the 2021 Eureka Prizes, announced Thursday night at a virtual ceremony. Presented annually by the Australian Museum since 1990, the Eureka Prizes recognise scientific excellence of both individuals and organisations. Seventeen prizes … Continue reading Oral vaccines, rare ecosystems and microplastic map

East coast frogs dying by the thousands

In early to mid-June, a few reports started coming into Dr Jodi Rowley, reptile and amphibian curator at the Australian Museum, that people were finding dead and dying green tree frogs around Scotts Head, on the north coast of NSW. Stuck in lockdown in Sydney and thinking it might be a local problem, Rowley went … Continue reading East coast frogs dying by the thousands

Playing detective for native trees

Dead trees are nothing new in the Australian landscape, but last summer was particularly severe. Following weeks of orange haze and thick black smoke caused by bushfires that ravaged the country, an estimated 21% of the total area covered by forests – excluding Tasmania – was burnt. Add to this the ongoing threat of drought, … Continue reading Playing detective for native trees

Itching to stop mosquitoes?

From improvements to insecticides to understanding mosquito senses and even releasing genetically modified populations to cause the collapse of wild populations, the quest to conquer mosquitoes is a never-ending fight. These efforts are all in the name of reducing the dangerous diseases mosquitoes transmit – including dengue, Zika virus and malaria. Earlier this year, we … Continue reading Itching to stop mosquitoes?

Monitoring coastline erosion risk

There’s no better picture of the Australian summer than people flocking to the beach to cool off. Aside from getting us through 40-degree heatwaves, beaches play an important role in buffering storms and protecting the land from the sea.  However, they’re also at risk of severe erosion, with previous reports projecting that around 50% of … Continue reading Monitoring coastline erosion risk

Changing behaviours of birds

The sight of a sulphur-crested cockatoo raiding a household wheelie bin might do little more than irritate the average person left to clean up the mess. However, for researchers at the Big City Birds citizen science project, it’s an exciting demonstration of the way birds are adapting to a changing environment. “We have reports of … Continue reading Changing behaviours of birds

Keeping an eye on coral health

Coral bleaching is a devastating global issue. If temperatures continue to rise, the rate of bleaching events will increase, threatening corals’ survival. The first global assessment of the impact of climate change on coral reefs, published in 2017 by UNESCO, revealed that coral reefs in all 29 reef-containing World Heritage sites would cease to exist … Continue reading Keeping an eye on coral health

The Great Cicada Blitz

There’s no louder announcement of the start of summer than cicadas’ song. The insect, which spends most of its life underground, emerges during spring and summer with the males sounding a high-pitched call for a mate. Australia has the richest diversity of cicadas in the world, with over 350 identified species. However, researchers know of … Continue reading The Great Cicada Blitz

Grow some spines for EchidnaCSI

There’s nothing quite like catching sight of a wild echidna meandering in the bush. However, getting a glimpse of them isn’t easy; echidnas are notoriously shy and difficult to see in the wild. Their aloofness means that despite the fact they’re found across the country, there are only two-well studied populations of wild echidnas in … Continue reading Grow some spines for EchidnaCSI

Aussie Backyard Bird Count takes flight

In celebration of National Bird Week, Australia’s largest annual citizen science event has kicked off, running until 25 October. The Aussie Backyard Bird Count, run by BirdLife Australia, asks participants to count the number of native bird species they see. The data provides an annual snapshot of Australian birds and can then be used to … Continue reading Aussie Backyard Bird Count takes flight

Your at-home guide to appreciating snails

Ah, the humble snail. They’re slow, slimy and a have a lousy habit of devouring our hard-grown veggies. However, like many other invertebrates, the important role they play in ecosystems is often overlooked and misunderstood. “Snails do all sorts of interesting things in the environment,” says Thom van Dooren from the University of Sydney, one … Continue reading Your at-home guide to appreciating snails

Unlocking Universal secrets

Astronomical observations have certainly come a long way. In the past, observatories had astronomers, mainly men, to look at the heavens and do the thinking about it. They’d also enlist lower-paid workers, mainly women, to inspect glass plates and identify stars, nebulae and galaxies. The women were known as ‘computers’ due to the large amount … Continue reading Unlocking Universal secrets