Recently, I was kindly awarded a blog award from a blogger whose thoughts I also enjoy reading, the delightfully-named Snail of Happiness. Rather than ‘officially’ passing the award baton, I am just going to pass on the favour by reviewing a few of my great blog discoveries. Some of them I’ve been reading for a couple of years, some I’ve only discovered recently, but all of them are wonderful and have kept me inspired (and a little bit more sane) while I was orbiting The Thesis’ event horizon. I hope they will inspire you too. Continue Reading »
Thank you to Rachel Bates, a freelance field ecologist from the UK, for asking me to write a guest post for her website Ecology Escapades. Rachel is keen to showcase the different kinds of work that ecologists do, and my post talked about doing field ecology research as well as the ecological significance of my study area in Victoria’s beautiful Murray Mallee region….
One of the most rewarding things about being an ecologist is the time you get to spend with Nature. As a research ecologist, those times don’t happen as often as you would like - we now spend more time at a computer, reading theory and background information, analysing data, writing papers and applying for grants to do more research. However, doing field work gives you the chance to experience magnificent ecosystems, landscapes and wildlife that you might not have seen as a tourist. Those experiences, however fleeting, make the data analysis and administrative headaches all the more bearable!
© Manu Saunders 2013
Posted in Academia, Ecology, Food & Agriculture, Water | Tagged almond, ecology PhD, field ecology research, Murray Darling Basin, Murray Mallee, PhD field work, pollination, Rachel Bates Ecology | 2 Comments »
Wild pollinator insects, especially bees, like diversity in their life. It’s not that they’re fussy, they just like to have different resources for nesting and foraging to choose from – just like us. This diversity in resources is important because wild pollinator communities aren’t just made up of bees, they include multiple species. We’ve (almost) figured out what honeybees like, and it’s easy to accommodate one species when you know the ins and outs of their biology. But ‘wild pollinators’ could mean solitary bees, bumblebees, huge hairy flies, delicate wasps, tiny midges, thrips, beetles, bugs, weevils, moths or butterflies. Some of these insects, particularly wasps and flies, may also control outbreaks of herbivorous insects, so they can provide multiple ecosystem services. Continue Reading »
Posted in Ecology, Food & Agriculture, Plants, Wildlife | Tagged almond plantations, ecosystem services, living ground cover, mallee, orchard, orchard floor, pollination, wild pollinators | 21 Comments »
With all the troubles in the world, you’d be forgiven for giving up on humanity completely. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s sometimes felt like running away to a hut in the mountains, just to get away from it all – I haven’t bothered yet, because I know it wouldn’t be long before I would be interrupted by some wayward product of civilisation. Continue Reading »
I don’t normally post videos here, but this one is kind of ecological! (Horses communicate in morse code? Why has no one done a PhD on that?!) So if you’re in need of some light, but entirely hearty and wholesome entertainment, here it is. Continue Reading »
Once upon a time…shoes lasted for hundreds of years, yet they left no footprint on the Earth.
The oldest known shoes were found at Fort Rock, Oregon USA, preserved under layers of volcanic ash. They were sandals woven from sagebrush and are around 8-9000 years old, possibly older. The meticulous weaving and shaping of the sole indicate that these shoes had an intellectual heritage much older than this – they certainly don’t look like the experimental result of a “lightbulb” moment for the first ever shoemaker! Continue Reading »
Posted in Green Issues, Human Society, Once Upon a Time, Pollution & Waste | Tagged artisan shoes, bespoke shoes, cane toad sneakers, carbon footprint, cobbler, cordwainer, greenwash, natural leather, shoe manufacturing, shoemaking, traditional tannery, vegetable tanning | 5 Comments »
Have you noticed the wild flowers are becoming scarcer every year? It may be that their wise men have told them to depart till man becomes more human.
~ Okakura Kakuzō (1906) The Book of Tea
Nature doesn’t depend on Technology. There is not a single natural process or ecosystem that needs artificial technology to function or exist. But much of human society does rely on technology. It is surprising how much ‘artificial’ technologies are increasingly seen to be central to scientific research, by both scientists and non-scientists. This view is particularly mystifying in ecological science, which is arguably the least technological of the sciences.
In a 2010 critical review of using GPS telemetry in field biology/ecology research, Hebblewhite & Haydon ask “what insights into ecology and conservation has all this extra technology really provided us with?” The disadvantages they list outnumber the advantages and they reckon the strongest advantage is being able to collect data that aren’t biased by the human observer’s ability or presence – things like nocturnal animal behaviour, or migratory patterns. Fair enough…but we did collect information like that before the advent of technology. It just required much more patience, and therefore time, than we think we have now. It also often relied on traditional knowledge gathered from indigenous people or past civilisations, most of whom were much more connected to Nature than we are now. Continue Reading »
Posted in Academia, Conversation Starters, Ecology, Education, Human Society, Science Communication | Tagged natural philosophy, naturalist, observational ecology, peer-reviewed literature, public attitudes to science, public understanding of science, Rumi, science education, scientific literacy | 9 Comments »