Welcome to the family Blog

Three images I’ve looked at today coming out of the family blog. Top is a cute brown thornbill nestling in the thorns at Natural Newstead (see blog 6). Middle is a cartoon relating to academics obsession with quantity being discussed by Ideas for Sustainability (see blog 3). And bottom is an image of an urban silvereye. QAEG scientists have discovered urban silvereyes sing different songs to their country cousins (see blog 4). It’s a bit like different blogs. We sing similar songs in different dialects.

Hello CLEAR-as-Blog readers. Are there any of you still out there? It’s been a long time between drinks.

Pia and Karen posted something last week but before that our last blog was in December 2011. We’ll try to do a bit better from here on. In this instalment, I’d like to introduce you to some of the cousins of CLEAR-as-Blog. The extended family, so to speak. In so doing it becomes apparent that there are many different types of blogs serving different needs and desires.

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Some resources for PhD students who want to publish

From a couple of people who were until very recently PhD students themselves…

More and more these days, PhD students are being encouraged to publish during their candidature. This can be a bit of an intimidating process, and sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. In recognition of this, and the fact that the ANU’s Conservation and Landscape Ecology Group had experienced a fresh influx of new students, Karen Ikin and myself decided to give a presentation to the group entitled “Eight key hints for getting stuff published during your PhD”.   Read more of this post

Resilience – what’s all the buzz?

Are buzzwords valuable devices that serve to inject emerging ideas into the national debate? Or are they shameful deceits used by political leaders to avoid being held to account? And is ‘resilience’ the new buzzword of our times?

In recent years I’ve been amused and somewhat cynical about the use and abuse of buzzwords such as ‘sustainability’ and ‘ecosystem health’. It seemed that while valuable thought had gone into promoting these terms as goals of policy and management, less consideration had gone into how you actually account for them.

For some, however, maybe that’s not a problem. These words represent noble aspirations. Maybe it doesn’t matter if what they mean is a bit blurry. Read more of this post

The cost of being internationally relevant

Are Australian species and ecosystems really that freakishly different from the rest of the world that our work isn’t applicable elsewhere? And are conservation efforts in Australia ultimately losing out because of this?
 

One seriously unique freaky Australian: the platypus. Image: Stefan Kraft.

I have just returned from Germany, where I had the pleasure of presenting the findings of my Travelling Stock Route-related work to the Institute of Ecology at Leuphana University in Lüneburg. I think the presentation was well-received, and at the end I got asked lots of probing questions from apparently interested people. Now, of course there is a chance that this nice group were just being polite, and taking pity on me with my ridiculous accent and excessive gesticulation. But others I spoke to during the week also seemed to show a genuine interest.

Why did I find this so surprising? Read more of this post

Biodiversity for the people

An increasingly common road sign for our future

Crack open the champagne, pass out the cigars – we have a birth to celebrate! Well, actually, many births. According to the United Nations’ Population Division, the world’s population has just reached seven billion. But the celebrations have undercurrents of despair. With human population pressure cited as one of the biggest stressors on global sustainability, how many more people can the earth realistically support? And given that the majority of people live in urban areas (with urbanisation a massive stressor in itself) is there anything can be done? Or, more importantly, is there anything ethically that can be done? Read more of this post

Backyard Naturalists – Citizen Science in Action

 
Here's looking at you kid - Striped skink  (Photo: Matthew Frawley)
Here’s looking at you kid – Striped skink (Photo: Matthew Frawley)

Canberra’s suburbs are teeming with wildlife attracted to the seasonal resources in our gardens and street verges—resources that provide ‘fast food’ for animals a short flight (hop or crawl) from our nature reserves. Read more of this post

Legless legislation

Striped legless lizard. Photo: Brett Howland

The plants and animals of Australia may consider themselves lucky, as they are legally protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. But as I have found out, sometimes triggering this Act does little more than generate paper work.

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The stock route problem: disposing of our heritage in the “too hard” basket

We know that the stock route network is a huge asset for conservation, recreation, heritage, and agriculture, so why are we facing the possibility of parts of it being sold off AGAIN? 
  

A stock route in Eualdrie, NSW, forms refuge for a woodland community. Image: Pia Lentini

Eastern Australia stands to possibly lose one of its greatest environmental and heritage assets, and many of us are not even aware of it. To those not familiar with what “stock routes” or “stock reserves” (SRs) are, they are basically linear strips of vegetation, or small reserves, set aside in the early days of pastoralism to allow drovers to transport livestock from ‘a’ to ’b’ before trains or trucks came along. Read more of this post

Facts for a burning issue

coarse woody debris in nature reserve

Woody debris on public land provides precious habitat. Collecting it as firewood is a threatening process to biodiversity and should not be encouraged.

The Victorian Government has abolished fees for collecting firewood on public land despite expert advice that removing dead trees from forests threatens native bird species. This strikes me as outrageous but when I attempted to find a bit of information to support my stand I found myself struggling. Can you help me?

The facts of this story were presented in a short article in The Age newspaper titled Firewood fee given the chop. The story says the Victorian Government was making firewood collection easier in state parks by scrapping a $28 a cubic metre charge and permit application process. Critics accused the government of being environmentally irresponsible and putting at risk a growing farm forestry industry.

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Coleoptera – corpses, crap, and celestial sh!te pushing


Human Skull being cleaned by Dermestid Beetles (Photo: Sklmsta)

It turns out that our irrelevant inordinate friends, the beetles, turn out to be pretty relevant. Here’s why:

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