Runways and fancy feet – tracking escape paths of marsupials

By Natasha Tay.  Ever thought you’d spend two weeks in the bush giving bettongs rave party feet and putting them on a runway for science? I travelled to Arid Recovery in South Australia this past May to do exactly that. My PhD investigates anti-predator behaviour in marsupials, focussing on how anatomy affects their physical ability…

Bobtails and dugites – reptiles in the city

By Ashleigh Wolfe.  The study of urban ecology is a rising topic within the ecological research community, and as urban sprawl increases across the globe, and more and more people are moving to urbanised areas, the need to understand how we as humans impact wildlife is growing. Urbanisation presents novel challenges for wildlife in many…

Is ecotourism good or bad? The answer is never simple…

Bill Bateman & Trish Fleming.  Humans innately like to categorise things.  Perhaps this helps us to compartmentalise and understand the world.  Zoology, and other life sciences, tend not to be so amenable to this; taxonomically and ecologically and physiologically and genetically there is always overlap, there is always some confusion.  The study of behaviour is…

Who are you looking at?

by Bill Bateman & Trish Fleming.   Animals are constantly on the lookout for potentially dangerous situations. Vigilance (time spent observing their environment for danger) is one measure of their antipredator responses. Another is their ‘flight initiation distance’ (simply: FID = how close you can come to an animal before they take off).

The ‘Risky-Decoy’ hypothesis

by Bill Bateman & Trish Fleming.  If an ecologist asks you if you are good at modelling you might think that they are referring to something mathematical, and start running in the opposite direction. But a simpler kind of modelling is often used by behavioural ecologists who are interested in predation. If you wanted to…

Autotomy – just drop it and run

by Bill Bateman & Trish Fleming.  An organism only has to fail once in escaping a predator for its evolutionary fitness to be reduced to zero. Selection to avoid ending up as a meal is, therefore, intense. More intense than selection on avoiding missing a meal such that in the evolutionary arms race, prey tends…