Interpreting the Biodiversity of Your Wardrobe

I love fashion, especially garments with animals on them. I wear so many of them, that my boss asked me about the biodiversity of my closet. I was genuinely curious so I counted all the plants, animals, and any other life forms that I could spot and calculated the Shannon Weiner Index, a real index…

What’s the Biodiversity Within Your Closet?

Conservationists and other nature lovers frequently advocate to save or increase biodiversity, but what exactly is biodiversity? One conjures up images of rainforests, coral reefs or animal clipart arranged artistically. These hint at the concept of biodiversity, which on the surface, seems simple, but gets more complicated once you try to measure it (even for…

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,…

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…

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…

Wildlife in the Big City: International Urban Wildlife Conference 2015

This week takes me to Chicago, where I am at the International Urban Wildlife Conference. Here the talks are all focused on the biology of unnatural ecosystems, cities and their surrounding sprawl. When you think of urban wildlife, likely pigeons, rats and raccoons, come to mind, but you be surprised to learn the rich biodiversity…

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…