Never blog in your PJs, and other tips for science and ecology bloggers

ThePastLogoThe scientists before me out-sourced everything, from typing a letter to making a pot of tea. My generation out-sourced communication and engagement. This generation of researchers has to do the lot. Every early career researcher is encouraged to publicize their work on blogs and social media.

For months now, I’ve collated hundreds of blogs on the Facebook page, Australia’s Best Ecology Blogs, to showcase science to a larger audience. Unfortunately many posts attract few readers, because they aren’t written as effectively as they could be. That’s disappointing but not surprising as – despite the pressure for self-promotion – few researchers are trained in science communication.

Collating blogs on Facebook made me realize that bad blogging is like wearing old pyjamas in public. It’s easy. Anyone can do it. It’s also very obvious. And it lingers. Nobody wants to be ‘that person’.

To help ecologists (and other researchers) attract more readers and avoid being caught out, blogging in their PJs, I compiled my top tips for ecology bloggers. I’m sure many readers will have more suggestions to add to the list. If you do, please leave a comment below. Continue reading

Climate change and natural areas: 90 things we don’t want to lose


It’s a simple philosophy. The things we share are the things we save. The topics we discuss are the topics we deal with. The ideals we neglect? They fade away.

What would you miss the most, if climate change made it disappear from your favourite natural area? Continue reading

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?

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading