Tag Archives: birds

Mapping a future for Australian birds

Australia’s birds are bright and noisy compared with birds elsewhere, so perhaps it is no surprise they account for over 18 million of the more than 30 million observations in the Atlas of Living Australia; including records from before European settlement.

Now, funded by the Australian National Data Service (ANDS), a team led by spatial ecologist Dr Jeremy VanDerWal of the Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change at James Cook University (JCU) is developing a website, known as “Edgar”, to clean up existing records and augment them with reliable observations from enthusiastic and knowledgeable bird watchers.

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Birds, bees, robots and flying

He isn’t a pilot, but few people would know more about ways of navigating while flying than Prof Mandyam Srinivasan (Srini) of the Queensland Brain Institute. And he’s steadily finding out more.

Srinivasan works on bee navigation: here he is in the All-Weather Bee Flight Facility at the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) Credit: Dee McGrath/QBI
Srinivasan works on bee navigation: here he is in the All-Weather Bee Flight Facility at the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI). Credit: Dee McGrath/QBI

Initially known for his work in bees, since receiving the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science in 2006, Srini has shown that birds and insects use a similar system of visual guidance to prevent themselves from crashing into trees when flying through dense forest.

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Starving cancer and other stories

Prostate cancers are made up of hungry, growing cells. Now we’ve discovered how to cut off their food supply thanks to a study published in Cancer Research and supported by Movember. More below. Also Australian science discoveries you may have missed from the past week. Heart cells growing in a test-tube – Melbourne How birds [...]

Plastic not fantastic for seabirds

Seabirds on one of Australia’s remotest islands have plastic in their stomachs.

Plastic not fantastic for seabirds
A flesh-footed shearwater surveys the contents of its stomach Credit: Ian Hutton

A recent survey found more than 95 per cent of the migratory flesh-footed shearwaters nesting on Lord Howe Island, between Australia and the northern tip of New Zealand, had swallowed plastic garbage.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, plastic has been shown to bind poisonous pollutants. As a result, some shearwaters were found with concentrations of mercury more than 7,000 times the level considered toxic.

Only six of more than 200 nests visited contained chicks. The overall population is plummeting.
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Surviving in the city

ARCUE is working to understand how plants and animals adapt to urban life. Credit: Janusz Molinski/Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne
ARCUE is working to understand how plants and animals adapt to urban life. Credit: Janusz Molinski/Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

Why do some plant and animal species thrive in the city while others disappear?

Most ecological studies are done in natural environments not in towns and cities so we lack information on urban ecology.

A team from Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens is changing that.

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