This is a guest post from Matthew Holden, an applied mathematician based at the University of Queensland. I loved seeing his backyard biodiversity hunt on Twitter, because so many of his pictures were of invertebrates! His story…
Well that’s what I wanted to know about my home.
It all started one day, more than a year ago, when my housemate, Dr Andrew Rogers, was cleaning out his closet. He wanted to move the spiders outside and spare them from getting sucked up by our vacuum, during a much-needed cleaning session. But there was one problem, there were a lot of spiders, definitely several species. He thought, “How many spiders do I share the house with?” It was a slippery slope … it wasn’t long till we wanted to know all of the species in our home.
From then on, we regularly talked about conducting a very local biodiversity survey, but never got around to it. We were fortunate enough to even have a taxonomist, Dr Russell Yong, move in with us, who was keen to help out. But we kept putting it off.
Then the pandemic happened. We all decided to start working for home – a perfect time to do the survey. It would give us all a social activity to bond over during this time of isolation. Andrew even came up with a hashtag for us to share our findings #StayHomeBiodiversityChallenge. Continue reading
With urban areas around the world suddenly emptied of humans, people are sharing photos and videos on social media showing wild animals cavorting in the empty streets.
I started to collate some of them on Twitter, but I gave up because it’s really hard to confirm how many of them are fake news.
The Goats of Llandudno were a legitimate lockdown observation – but it turns out they’re regular visitors to the town. Some posts are clearly a joke (a herd of buffalo in the centre of Buffalo, NY), while others would seem pretty believable to most people with no specialist knowledge of the species or location, like the ‘rare Malabar civet’ in the streets of an Indian town.
Most posts provide very little context, no confirmation of the date they were filmed, and often no confirmed source. For the average responsible social media user, there is simply no way of verifying them. Continue reading
The human relationship with ‘wilderness’ is an intriguing one. For centuries, we have shown simultaneous apprehension and admiration for the wild, untamed Nature that surrounded our own carefully controlled environments.
From the anthropomorphic gods of ancient mythologies to modern-day idolising of big game hunters and ‘survival experts’, we have an uncanny ability to keep that which we admire at an arm’s length. Show someone a picture of a stunning mountain range, an adorable wild animal baby or a serene tropical island, and they’ll wax lyrical on the astounding beauty, the majesty of nature, the sense of peace it creates within, rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb… But, put that person into said picture and it’s suddenly not so appealing—there’s insects and spiders crawling around, it’s raining, that animal has teeth and claws, it’s hot, I have to pee behind a bush, there’s no toilet paper, I need a drink, there’s no food, I’m getting bitten… Continue reading