Blog

For the love of dog

Like many others, I am a dog lover. They are a most amazing creature which has fitted into human society greater than any other animal. From personal companions to dogs which work from herding to guard dogs and seeing eye dogs. While we take the domestic dog to our hearts we often treat their cousins with less care, and ever more suspicion. At least fifteen thousand years ago we began to take grey wolves into our villages and homes. Since then we have selectively bred them into a range of breeds of varying shapes and sizes as well as to…

Rabbits, pets or pests

Rabbits are a common sight in the countryside and in peoples back gardens. Some are a childs adorable companion while others are seen as a pest, vermin to be removed or destroyed. Over the years there have been many ways in which authorities have attempted to curb the spread of rabbits. Australia is a country which has had some of the worst problems of what can be termed an invasive species. In response to the spread of rabbits they infected the population with myxomatosis in 1950. The disease, which causes tumours to grow around the eyes and genitals, depleted their…

European bumblebees finding success in Patagonia

It has at times been common practice to introduce species to a new area. Generally to remove pests or enhance production in some way. In the 80s and 90s European bumble bees were transported to South American, Patagonia to be precise, in order to aid with pollination of crops. Well used bee populations can increase the economic benefits of crops significantly. but it seems that the bees are doing just a little too well. Reports from a serious of surveys conducted between 2004 and 2012 shows an increasing spread of Bombus terrestris and Bombus ruderatus across the region. B. ruderatus…

The devil is in the genes…

While searching through topics for a university project I came across details on the Australia Zoo website of a horrific disease spreading through the populations of Tasmanian devils known as Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD).  First described in 1996 this cancer is one of the very few instances where it is transmissible, meaning it can be passed on to others members of the species if tumorous tissue is transferred into the targets body.  This can occur due to the low diversity in their genetics, especially the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC), which means that the devils own immune system is unable…

Bees, pesticides and unfinished business

Last year I spent a significant amount of time looking into neonicotinoid pesticides and their effects on bees through agricultural use for my dissertation. I found it fascinating but in hindsight it was probably far too big a topic for the project, especially in the way I had to write it. So I thought I’d briefly go over it and then possibly put more in depth posts regarding it and future developments in later posts. Bees are brilliant creatures; with many different species they are one of the most prominent pollinating insects in the world. They are not alone in…