Who will win the inaugural repeat photo competition?

Before After 2

Have you taken your snaps for the environmental repeat photo competition? If you have, it’s now time to enter.

At the start of the year, I announced a photo competition. The goal was to encourage everyone to get out in the bush and to record changes in their favourite ecosystem. It’s now time to submit your shots and then vote for your favourite repeat photos of 2014. Continue reading

Bringing back the dead with old ecology photos

Mallee Swale Eucalypts Wyperfeld 1982 Cheal

Take a close look at the coppicing trees in the old photo above. Notice anything unusual?

Perhaps it looks like any other stand of burnt mallee? Perhaps it does. But most of the trees aren’t resprouting after a fire. They aren’t recovering from drought, insect attack or damage by humans either. What could have caused the damage? Continue reading

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