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…

A Day in the Life of a Postdoc: Anna

Today, 13th August, is Ada Lovelace Day, which celebrates the achievements of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. Ada Lovelace was one of the first women admitted to the Royal Astronomical Society and is regarded by many to have been the first computer programmer. To mark the occasion, we thought we’d take…

Let’s not forget the scaly, slimy and spineless on Threatened Species Day

September 7th marks the anniversary of a spectacular failure in Australian wildlife conservation. On this day in 1936, the last known thylacine, the largest marsupial carnivore and the only member of the family Thylacinidae, died in captivity in a Hobart zoo. Today, this day is recognised (I cannot bring myself to write “celebrated”) as Threatened…

Let’s share some science joy!

It’s Friday, and nearly the end of the month. Think back over the last week, the last few weeks. Have you been a science grouch? I know I have. Perhaps you’ve complained about the lack of job opportunities in science? Your paper got bad reviews? Your sequencing failed? Or something else…? If I look back,…

Bison, bioinformatics and (meta)barcoding

This is my first post here since April. I’ve spent much of the last three months travelling, holidaying, workshopping and attending two conferences. I had a wonderful time in Adelaide at the Genetics Society of AustralAsia’s 2015 conference and learned about some fascinating new science at the Boden Reseach Conference on Comparative Animal Genomics. But…

Sampling roadkill for DNA

I know a lot of biologists who have lists related to their work: lists of birds they have seen, lists of journals they want to publish in, lists of top wildlife spectacles they want to see, lists of species they have studied, lists of their favourite fieldwork sites. I too have a few lists, and…

An Australia Day post on Australian wildlife conservation

Today, 26th January, is Australia Day. This is Australia’s national holiday, marking the arrival on this day in 1788 of the British First Fleet at Port Jackson in New South Wales. Of course one might wonder whether the anniversary of the proclamation of British sovereignty over eastern Australia is an appropriate date to celebrate Australian unity and…

Why should we care about cryptic species?

Today’s post is prompted by a conversation I had with a man I sometimes see at the local dog park. Early one morning a few weeks ago, while our pooches played, we discussed species concepts. This man expressed his frustration at his biologist friends’ constant efforts to describe and delimit species. This obsession with naming…

So you want to do some genetics…? Bridging the gap between lab and field

“Bob said I should call you because it would be good to do some genetics on this mammal population, how long will that take…?”   “Alice and I collected a few tissue samples when we were in the field earlier this year and now we’d like to talk to you about collaborating on some DNA analysis…”   I’m paraphrasing of course, but…