Laughs, cries and deception: birds’ emotional lives are just as complicated as ours

Gisela Kaplan, University of New England July on the Northern Tableland, near Armidale in New South Wales, is usually the beginning of the breeding season and field observations start early. I sat and watched in freezing temperatures. The sun was just rising above the horizon of this 1000m-high plateau when through binoculars I saw aContinue reading “Laughs, cries and deception: birds’ emotional lives are just as complicated as ours”

Species Extinction: just how bad is it and why should we care?

Euan Ritchie, Deakin University “Dad, the world is missing amazing animals. I wish extinction wasn’t forever”. Despite my wife and I working as biologists, our five-year-old son came to make this statement independently. He is highlighting what I and many others consider to be society’s biggest challenge, and arguably failure: the continuing loss of speciesContinue reading “Species Extinction: just how bad is it and why should we care?”

For primates, having a mother helps them learn social skills

Carla Litchfield, University of South Australia Wild bonobos, like all Great Apes, spend long childhoods with their mothers, learning the skills they need to function as socially and emotionally stable members of their community. But orphaned bonobos at sanctuaries don’t have that kind of upbringing. Can they still learn the skills they need to getContinue reading “For primates, having a mother helps them learn social skills”

Africa’s rainforests are different. Why it matters that they’re protected

Martin Sullivan, University of Leeds; Oliver Phillips, University of Leeds, and Simon Lewis, UCL Around 2 million km² of Africa is covered by tropical rainforests. They are second only in extent to those in Amazonia, which cover around 6 million km². Rainforests are home to vast numbers of species. For example, the world’s tropical rainforestsContinue reading “Africa’s rainforests are different. Why it matters that they’re protected”

Demand for meat is driving deforestation in Brazil – changing the soy industry could stop it

Angela Guerrero, Stockholm University and Malika Virah-Sawmy, Humboldt University of Berlin Soy may have a pretty innocuous reputation thanks to its association with vegan food and meat alternatives. But don’t be fooled – crops of this pale legume are behind much of Brazil’s epidemic of deforestation. Since 2000, Brazil has doubled its total area ofContinue reading “Demand for meat is driving deforestation in Brazil – changing the soy industry could stop it”

A global juggling act: feeding the world, saving species

Jim Radford, Deakin University Our planet is on the precipice of a sixth mass extinction event. But unlike the five previous mass extinctions, this one is man-made: a global biodiversity crisis in which species are disappearing three to 12 times faster than the “normal” rate of extinction. Australia is not immune from this crisis. InContinue reading “A global juggling act: feeding the world, saving species”

The why, what and where of the world’s black leopards

Sam Williams, Durham University A black leopard was recently spotted in Kenya’s Laikipia area by San Diego Zoo scientist, Nicholas Pilfold. Sam Williams, a conservation ecologist focused on African carnivores, asked Nicholas about the elusive cats. Where are black leopards found in Africa? There have been a number of reports of black leopard in Africa,Continue reading “The why, what and where of the world’s black leopards”

One-fifth of reptiles heading towards extinction

Almost one-fifth of the world’s reptiles are currently threatened with extinction. A recent study assessed 1500 species for extinction risks. From the 19% found to be in danger, 12% were classified as Critically Endangered, 41% as Endangered and 47% Vulnerable. Three of the species listed as being Critically Endangered are believed to be possibly extinct.Continue reading “One-fifth of reptiles heading towards extinction”

The rise of ultra-processed foods and why they’re really bad for our health

Phillip Baker, Deakin University; Mark Lawrence, Deakin University, and Priscila Machado, Deakin University Humans (and our ancestors) have been processing food for at least 1.8 million years. Roasting, drying, grinding and other techniques made food more nutritious, durable and tasty. This helped our ancestors to colonise diverse habitats, and then develop settlements and civilisations. ManyContinue reading “The rise of ultra-processed foods and why they’re really bad for our health”

Climate Explained: what would happen if we cut down the Amazon rainforest?

Sebastian Leuzinger, Auckland University of Technology What would happen if we cut down the entire Amazon rainforest? Could it be replaced by an equal amount of reforestation elsewhere? Removing the entire Amazon rainforest would have myriad consequences, with the most obvious ones possibly not the worst. Most people will first think of the carbon currentlyContinue reading “Climate Explained: what would happen if we cut down the Amazon rainforest?”

Why you should stop buying new clothes

Alana James, Northumbria University, Newcastle The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world, producing 20% of global wastewater and 10% of global carbon emissions – and it’s estimated that by 2050 this will have increased to 25%. A staggering 300,000 tonnes of clothes are sent to British landfills each year.Continue reading “Why you should stop buying new clothes”

How plywood started the destruction of Indonesia’s forests

Indonesia now has the has the fastest rate of deforestation in the world, driven largely by clearing for palm oil plantations. But the process began long ago, with one of the most common building materials: plywood. As far as commodities are concerned, it was plywood that defined the rainforests of Borneo in the 1970s andContinue reading “How plywood started the destruction of Indonesia’s forests”

Huge ecosystems could collapse in less than 50 years – new study

We know that ecosystems under stress can reach a point where they rapidly collapse into something very different. The clear water of a pristine lake can turn algae-green in a matter of months. In hot summers, a colourful coral reef can soon become bleached and virtually barren. And if a tropical forest has its canopyContinue reading “Huge ecosystems could collapse in less than 50 years – new study”

What’s my name? How wild parrots identify their young

Sunanda Creagh, The Conversation Wild parrots name their chicks by teaching them an individual sound to identify them, researchers have found. Humans and dolphins create unique sounds by which individuals are identified and there was some evidence to suggest captive parrots created ‘contact calls’ – special calls used to identify family and friends. But untilContinue reading “What’s my name? How wild parrots identify their young”

We don’t know how many mountain gorillas live in the wild. Here’s why

Katerina Guschanski, Uppsala University How important are the mountain gorillas of Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park to global populations? A new census – carried out by the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration (a coalition of governments, non-profits and conservationists) in 2018 – shows that the population of mountain gorillas in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest NationalContinue reading “We don’t know how many mountain gorillas live in the wild. Here’s why”

Video: Slowing deforestation is the key to preventing the next pandemic – but what does that cost?

Les Kaufman, Boston University In a recent journal article, a team of biologists, medical scientists, environmental scientists and conservationists proposed a number of measures to reduce the likelihood of future pandemics, many of which originate with wild animals such as bats. They argue that spending billions of dollars per year – a fraction of theContinue reading “Video: Slowing deforestation is the key to preventing the next pandemic – but what does that cost?”

Nature’s hidden wealth is conservation’s missed opportunity

Australia has one of the worst extinction records in the modern world. Since European settlement, a third of the country’s native mammals have disappeared. How can we stem the losses? A recent article in Nature highlighted that most federal and state biodiversity conservation policy fails to recognise biodiversity as a major source of industrial products.Continue reading “Nature’s hidden wealth is conservation’s missed opportunity”

Monkey minds: what we can learn from primate personality

Carla Litchfield, University of South Australia Every human is different. Some are outgoing, while others are reserved and shy. Some are focused and diligent, while others are haphazard and unfussed. Some people are curious, others avoid novelty and enjoy their rut. This is reflected in our personality, which is typically measured across five factors, knownContinue reading “Monkey minds: what we can learn from primate personality”

Humans force wild animals into tight spots, or send them far from home

The COVID pandemic has shown us that disruptions to the way we move around, complete daily activities and interact with each other can shatter our wellbeing. This doesn’t apply only to humans. Wildlife across the globe find themselves in this situation every day, irrespective of a global pandemic. Our latest research published today in NatureContinue reading “Humans force wild animals into tight spots, or send them far from home”

The Coronavirus Crisis: How has Lockdown Impacted Nature?

I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a very strange year. Thanks to coronavirus, modern life as we know it has been put on hold. International borders have been shut, governments have ordered businesses to close their doors, and most families have been under lockdown. For anyone wondering where this infectious virusContinue reading “The Coronavirus Crisis: How has Lockdown Impacted Nature?”