Marsupial misconceptions: weird mammals, placentas and pouches

I’ve now been living in Australia for almost 18 years, and I’m an unashamed convert to #TeamMarsupial. Marsupials are fascinating animals in both evolutionary and ecological terms, but at times I am surprised by how poorly-understood they are. I’ve been thinking of writing a post to address some recurring marsupial misconceptions for a while. When I saw…

A Year of Science Selfies- Anna

At this time last year I was quite uncomfortable about the idea of participating in #365scienceselfies, but still, I agreed to give it a go. I thought it was worth exploring as a different kind of science communication, to show what scientists look like and what we do. I never once thought I’d actually reach the nominal…

There’s no such thing as “boring” data in citizen science

As a child I was hooked on wildlife documentaries (I still am…) and from these I gleaned that the career highlight of any self-respecting botanist or zoologist was to discover a new species. For a while that was my goal too, but then I became sidetracked by questions about genetics and evolution and conservation. Fast…

Behind the paper: eDNA has great potential as a wildlife survey tool, but should be used properly

As many people know, two of my favourite topics are bandicoots and environmental DNA (eDNA). So I’m very excited about the online debut of my latest paper “A framework for developing and validating taxon-specific primers for specimen identification from environmental DNA” at Molecular Ecology Resources, which includes both bandicoots and eDNA. eDNA analysis is the analysis of DNA…

How to write a student travel award application

I love going to scientific conferences. They provide me with great opportunities to learn about exciting new research, expand my professional network, and catch up with colleagues and old friends. Over the last few months (and at this point in previous years) I’ve spent some time evaluating student applications for a couple of different conference travel awards. Many academic societies offer such awards,…

Bandicoots, the little marsupial diggers

  Bandicoots are fascinating creatures, but I suspect few people outside Australia and New Guinea have ever heard of them, well, unless you count Crash Bandicoot… They are probably best known in suburban Australia for infuriating gardeners with the conical pits, or “snout-pokes”, they dig whilst foraging for their food, which varies a little among species but usually includes fungi,…

Earth Week 2016: Conserving biodiversity by watching your waste

We’re celebrating Earth Week 2016 with suggestions for how to apply the phrase “Earth Day Every Day” to conserving biodiversity. There are a number of great suggestions for things you can do every day to conserve energy and water; but we asked ourselves, what actions can we take to conserve biodiversity? This week we’ll explore: food production on…

When Science meets Parliament

Last week I had the privilege of spending two days at the 16th “Science meets Parliament”. It was an eye opening experience and I’ve learnt a lot… but let me explain… Science meets Parliament is an annual event run by Science and Technology Australia (STA), the peak body representing Australian science and technology. It includes…

Behind the paper: using DNA to define conservation units for endangered dragons

This week, we have a new paper published online in the journal Conservation Genetics, with former Honours student Emma Carlson as lead author. The paper is titled “How many conservation units are there for the endangered grassland earless dragons?” Yes, that’s right, dragons! But not the fire-breathing sort. The grassland earless dragon (Tympanocyrptis pinguicolla) is a…

Rewilding: restoring lost species to save ecosystems

At first they were just shadows, dark impressions glimpsed through the mist. Is that really…? Could it be…? As we moved a little closer one of them turned to the east, to face the rising sun. His profile was unmistakable, the curved horns and humped shoulders proclaiming “bison”! And not just any bison, but free-ranging European bison, grazing…

The numbat, Australia’s missing marsupial

So, I just made a discovery – November 7th 2015 is (or was) the first ever World Numbat Day! I had another post planned for this weekend, coincidentally about a different group of marsupials, but how could I go past this opportunity to write about numbats? I might be a little late to the festivities, but I…