Category Archives: Conservation

(Re)introducing the microbial buddy system

By Laurence Clarke

Co-extinction may be the most common form of extinction there is. From the Tasmanian tiger to the gastric-brooding frog, it’s no secret that lots of Australia’s animals have gone extinct. But many tiny microorganisms were dependent on these large animals. What happened to these microbes after the loss of their bigger buddies, and, if we can bring the animals back, will their microbes return too? Continue reading


PhD opportunity: “Paleoclimate analysis using ancient microbial DNA: The history of Antarctic melting”

A PhD project is available at the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA using ancient Antarctic microbial records to reconstruct the impacts of past climate change. Microbial DNA preserved in ice cores will be used to reconstruct the history of Antarctic ice sheet behaviour over the last full glacial cycle (from 130 kyr), with major implications for understanding past periods of rapid sea level change and for providing baseline measures for global climate change models. The project has strong potential to make major contributions to our understanding of past climate change, and for informing predictive models for the next century.

The project is a collaboration with Prof. Chris Turney, and Dr Chris Fogwill, of UNSW in Sydney, and there is the potential for Antarctic fieldwork during the project.

A highly motivated candidate with strong initiative and organisational skills is required, with a background in environmental microbiology and climate change. A publication record would be a distinct advantage, and the position is open to both Australian and international candidates.

Contact Prof. Alan Cooper,, with a letter of interest, background information addressing the above criteria, and a CV by 21st October 2015.

The wonders of Kangaroo and Wallaby poo

Jess Wadley features on this week’s Scope explaining how and why she studies Kangaroo and Wallaby poo.

Jump to 19:40 for Jess’s appearance as she meets the Kangaroos, collects poo, and heads into the ACAD labs. The show also covers no-snow skiing, theme park rides, and the world’s most sensitive thermometer.

Click here to watch the show on tenplay.


Credit: tenplay

A rare parrot and its passenger.

What about the world’s truly ugly, endangered animals?

By Alex Boast

Imagine an endangered animal species worthy of our attention and you might consider something like the nocturnal, moss-green, giant parrot known as the kakapo. A zoological oddity, found only in the forests of New Zealand, kakapo are both the world’s only flightless parrot species and the world’s heaviest. Compared to most parrots, kakapo live in the slow lane – possessing one of the slowest metabolic rates of any bird, living nearly a century, Continue reading

Counting wombats without ever sighting one

By Lauren White


The northern hairy-nosed wombat. Credit: EHP

The northern hairy-nosed wombat (Lasiorhinus krefftii) is a very elusive creature. They are only found at one site in Australia: Epping Forest National Park in North Queensland. Highly endangered, wombat numbers were as low as 40 individuals in the 1980’s. They are very difficult to sight because of their nocturnal nature and largely subterranean lifestyle. They live underground in extensive burrows with multiple entrances, only emerging for a few hours each night. Sighting enough to get an accurate population count, which is important for the management of this iconic species, is almost impossible. Continue reading