Human colonisation could have helped Fijian bees flourish

Australian researchers have used DNA analysis to discover a refreshingly positive legacy of human colonisation on species abundance. While land clearing and environmental modification has led many species to extinction, it prompted native bees in tropical Fiji to dramatically increase their spread on the main island of Viti Levu, according to a study published in … Continue reading Human colonisation could have helped Fijian bees flourish

This adorable mouse was considered extinct for over 100 years — until we found it hiding in plain sight

Emily Roycroft, Australian National University Australia has the world’s worst track record for wiping out mammals, with 34 species declared extinct since European colonisation. Many of these are humble native rodents, who’ve suffered the highest extinction rate of any mammal group. But today, we bring some good news: one rodent species, Gould’s mouse (Pseudomys gouldii), … Continue reading This adorable mouse was considered extinct for over 100 years — until we found it hiding in plain sight

Giant map of giant kelp forests

A paper published in Communications Earth & Environment has tracked 35 years of satellite data to create a comprehensive map of underwater giant kelp forests. “Kelp is one of the most productive and important marine ecosystems in the world,” says Nur Arafeh-Dalmau, a PhD candidate at the University of Queensland and lead author on the … Continue reading Giant map of giant kelp forests

What is a gene drive?

As part of its $50 million mouse control package, announced in May, the NSW Government yesterday committed $1.8 million to “breakthrough genetic biocontrol research” – a three-year program to identify “fast-acting gene drives”. What does that mean? Sometimes a population of animals becomes problematically large, leading to rampant disease or plague: reference the current mouse … Continue reading What is a gene drive?

Explainer: Which baits are used in the mouse plague?

The NSW government has released a $50 million package to assist with the harrowing mouse plague affecting the west of the state. Controversially, part of the plan is to ask for approval from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (AVPMA) to use the bait bromadiolone – a rodenticide that has drawn criticism from some … Continue reading Explainer: Which baits are used in the mouse plague?

There are about 50 billion birds alive today

An Australian study has set out to measure the number of birds worldwide, returning an estimate of 50 billion – although the uncertainty on that number is large. “Humans have spent a great deal of effort counting the members of our own species – all 7.8 billion of us,” says Will Cornwell, an associate professor … Continue reading There are about 50 billion birds alive today

Gorilla chest beating sounds different based on size

The sight of a mountain gorilla rapidly beating its chest is a captivating feature of its communication repertoire, but its purpose hasn’t been entirely clear. Scientists have now discovered that the drumming sounds change according to the gorillas’ body size – larger males emit lower audio frequencies than smaller males, which they say could be … Continue reading Gorilla chest beating sounds different based on size

Ecological data reveal a changing Arctic

Three decades of data on animal migration and movements in the Arctic confirms that they are shifting their behaviours because of climate change. An international team of environmental engineers and ecologists compiled a database of more than 200 research projects tracking the movements of over 8000 marine and land animals since 1991. Scientists have been … Continue reading Ecological data reveal a changing Arctic

Paternity fraternity

Why do some species do good Dads? Although they tend to be “the exception that proves the rule” according to Karen Cheney, behavioural ecologist at Queensland University of Technology, there are some ties that bind them. “One of the main theories is that a lot of males don’t know they’re the father,” says Cheney. “Unless … Continue reading Paternity fraternity