Got a minute (and an internet connection)? Want to double the readership of your science?
Then contribute to the largest encyclopedia ever published: Wikipedia!
Brown marmorated stink bug is a serious horticultural pest native to East Asia. It damages crops, infests ornamental plants, and seeks out shelter over the winter causing massive problems for homes and businesses. Fortunately we don’t have it in New Zealand yet, but in order to keep it out we need to know what it looks like. In this post I show you how to tell it apart from other New Zealand stink bugs.
I published my first blog post exactly one year ago today.
Because this is my 21st post, it means I’ve published one post every two and a half weeks, on average. Not too bad, but I’m aiming to post once every 2 weeks in the year ahead. I also have some multimedia plans, so stay tuned for updates.
At it’s most simple, ‘open access’ is the idea that anyone should be able to read and reuse scholarly works free of charge.
The open access debate is sometimes framed as an all-or-nothing, take it or leave it kind of deal. But those in favour of OA are not necessarily in favour of forking out huge APC’s to OA or Hybrid publishers. Likewise, those with concerns about OA are not necessarily happy for big traditional publishers to make significant profit margins by restricting access to taxpayer-funded research.
But rather than arguing for one business model or another (a task I’m vastly under-qualified to do), I simply want to remind researchers that in the mean time, we can make all of our work openly accessible entirely for free (for both authors and readers), with minimal effort, all while publishing in whatever journal we want.
Ever seen a weird creature and wanted to know more about it?
iNaturalist is a citizen science project and online social network of naturalists, citizen scientists, and biologists built on the concept of mapping and sharing observations of biodiversity across the globe. The iNaturalist platform is supported by the California Academy of Sciences based in San Francisco. New Zealand has its own version of the iNaturalist platform called iNaturalist NZ — Mātaki Taiao. Our local version is run by the New Zealand Bio-Recording Network (NZBRN), a charitable trust led by a team of NZ ecologists and biodiversity IT professionals.
Our local version provides a Kiwi window into iNaturalist that shows just the New Zealand observations. That way your fantails and totara observations don’t get lost in a flood of squirrels and bald eagles!
You can upload photos of any organism from the mobile app (or from your digital camera onto the website) and you’ll be connected with experts who can help to identify what you’ve seen.
Heres a quick overview of how to use iNaturalist.
My PhD project focuses on biocontrol: using beneficial species to manage the impacts of undesirable species.
I’m looking at Trissolcus japonicus, or the ‘samurai wasp.’ This tiny Asian wasp has been proposed for release against the brown marmorated stink bug in New Zealand (if and when the stink bug is found to have established here). My work focuses on testing the likelihood this wasp would attack New Zealand’s native and naturalised stink bug species if it were released. In order to do this, I’m rearing NZ stink bug species so I can use their eggs to test the behaviour of the wasp.
Most researchers conducting these types of tests would have to compile a short-list of stink bug species to test, based on things like their biological classification, their rarity, their economic importance, etc. But New Zealand has so few species of stink bug, I can include all potential non-target species in my tests. Here is a visual guide to New Zealand’s stink bugs.
Yes, we have native wasps in New Zealand!
Unfortunately we also have a handful of introduced social wasps. The introduced wasps prey on native invertebrates and create a nuisance (especially for people who are allergic to their stings). But our native wasps do not live together in colonies and they do not sting. They are a very diverse and important group, and we are just beginning to unravel the complex relationships they have with other species here in New Zealand.
During my masters research I caught 61 species of parasitoid wasps from the group I was interested in (the Ichneumonidae). Fifty-six of these species are represented here. You’ll notice most are given a ‘first name’ and then ‘sp.#’ – This means we know the first name (the genus), and we know it is a species, but it is not yet described as a species. Most of our invertebrates are like this because there are so many species and so few people to describe and name them.
Students and early career researchers have a lot on their plates: we are expected to write papers, attend conferences, do field work or lab work, manage our project, manage our supervisor, manage our time, manage our sanity…all while being constantly reminded of our limited chances of landing our dream job when we finally leave student life behind.
In order to counter some of the cynicism, I’m a big believer in the value of crafting an ‘online presence’ for while we study, in order to create as many opportunities as possible. When I say ‘online presence’ I mean using a combination of a personal website, social media, and academic profiles. Whether you’re a high school student, an undergraduate student, postgraduate student, early career researcher, lab head, etc, we can all can get so much out of a web presence.
This post is a quick one-stop shop for setting up a simple personal website you can use to list your interests, show off your achievements, and maybe even start a blog.