The night the cold killed the mallee: extreme events & climate change

tent in frostMy toes knows it’s cold outside. Me nose knows too. And me ear.
Our thin nylon tent holds little warmth.

Last night the mercury fell to –2°C in the mallee. Cold on the extremities, but not cold in the extreme. Cold in the extreme? Last seen, winter ’82.

Every winter, the small town of Ouyen – a grain silo, roadhouse, general store and little more – gets about 18 frosts. Most years, the coldest night is a chilly –1°C. Thirty two years ago, the mercury plummeted. Continue reading

Join the dots with Australia’s best ecology blogs

Ursa_Major_constellationWhen you gaze to the heavens, do you see a flying fish, a winged horse, a sea monster, water carrier, or perhaps a heavenly air pump? Or, like me, do you see a beautiful scatter of unconnected, blinking lights?

Now lower your gaze and join the dots between your favourite ecology blogs. How many tiny constellations do you see? Would anybody else draw a star chart quite like yours? Continue reading

The Patch Burn quiz: 1 question, 6 choices. Which will you vote for?

Georgia votingI didn’t intend to write this blog. I started to write another post on patch mosaic burning. But I got stumped by a simple question. I realized that the blog I intended to write would founder if everyone answered that question differently. So this week’s blog contains a quiz, a poll, to see how everybody interprets my puzzling question.

We all know the phrase ‘patch mosaic burning promotes diversity’. It’s a simple phrase but it leaves a lot unsaid. The comparison is hidden. If patch mosaic burning promotes diversity, then it must create more diversity than some other kind of fire regime.

My puzzling question is – what comparison do you have in mind when you say ‘patch mosaic burning promotes diversity’? What is it that you compare patch mosaic burning against?

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Watch this video to restore your enthusiasm for restoring your world

Emilys 6 Happy ShovelsTo restore the world we need to re-charge our batteries. We can’t save our climate, soils or biodiversity on a flat battery of despondency. Our governments aren’t going to restore the environment or our confidence – but our communities can.

I avoid posting blogs that simply say, ‘Ooh look, here’s something cool from the internet’ – but you do have to watch this. You’ll love it.

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Burning (for) biodiversity: what is a patch burn mosaic?

Great_Sandy_Desert Framed

Like patch mosaic burning? I bet you know someone who does. The concept – like corridors and connectivity – is popular with land managers and the public, and often adopted with ‘mucho gusto’.

The theory that underpins patch mosaic burning is simple. Continue reading

A great GPS for your mobile phone

MorgansMap1945Our old Melways street directory has gathered dust for years. We use Google Maps on the phone now. A man who sounds like George Bush barks out, ‘In 20 meters, at the roundabout, take the third exit. Take the third exit’. Despite his name, George is absolutely useless in the bush. Google Maps doesn’t show most dirt tracks and phone reception is often poor away from towns and highways.

Last weekend, we used a fantastic new GPS app during a day walk in a nearby national park. It’s a free app for Android phones and iPhones called Continue reading

Calling all early career ecologists, want to be featured in a blog?

BlogOver the past few years, I’ve enjoyed writing blogs about exciting research by many ecologists and conservation biologists. It’s a wonderful opportunity to spread the word to a large and enthusiastic audience.

I’m keen to promote more work by early career researchers in the future. Recent blogs on fire in the mallee and estimating the cover of plants, for example, were based on fantastic papers by PhD students. Both posts were very popular with readers.

So this is a call to all the early career researchers who read this blog. If you’d like your work featured, please send me an email.

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