I’m fond of the comparison between orchid diversity in Canberra and Britain. On Black Mountain, a 460 ha reserve right next to the centre of Canberra, we have more species of orchid (66 species) than in the whole of Britain (52 species). Perhaps the comparison is a little unfair…but regardless we are incredibly lucky in Australia to have over 1700 species of native orchid.
This week, from the 12th to the 19th of November, is Australian Pollinator Week. It was created to raise awareness of the importance of pollinators and of the recent declines in insect abundance. Say g'day to an insect, plant a flowering shrub, and don't use pesticides, and the indispensable insects may just survive.
Ahhh fieldwork. It never goes according to plan. But, finally, my field season has come to an end and its time to put aside the 4WD, camping equipment and car fridge, and actually unpack the bags which have been moving between the car and house since May.
Ali and I are just back from a month-long field trip to the Perth region, Ali having come along to help out as a field assistant. What a lovely place to spend the start of spring! What's more, we've got back to Canberra and its still winter, so its like we'll have two springs...
Or - The importance of surrounding oneself with beautiful things.
During the course of my undergrad degree, I discovered that notebooks were important to me. And not just important for storing information. I found that nice notebooks encouraged me to carry them everywhere, so that I always had a notebook on me. They encouraged me to write more notes, and keep all my notes from various courses all in the same place. I can't say for sure that they made me smarter or got me better grades, but I'm sure I enjoyed the experience more
I had the first mini breakthrough of my PhD last month! I've been working with flowers of Pterostylis longifolia, a common, multi-flowered greenhood which flowers during winter in the wetter forests of south-eastern Australia. I've been 'presenting' the flowers in various locations around the country-side, a method known as 'baiting', hoping to attract pollinators to the flowers...and it worked!
Take a look at the video below...can you guess what's happening?
In my last post I wrote about the first month of my PhD experience, about getting all the paperwork in order, about the enormity of planning for the next four years. So what am I actually studying?
In short, orchids and fungus gnats! Yep, fungus gnats. Let me explain.
PhD stands for the Latin philosophiae doctor, or Doctor of Philosophy. But there are some amusing alternatives for the acronym: parents have doubts/ paid half of what I deserve/ probably heavily in debt/ piled higher and deeper/ permanent head damage/ pretty heavily depressed/ patiently hoping for a degree/ please hire - desperate/ pour him.her a drink/ pulsating heaving disaster. And if you are still stuck in high school, it could also mean pretty huge dick.
Yesterday I joined a thousand people on the lawns of Parliament House, as part of the Canberra version of the global March for Science.
I'm not normally part of protests. I'm not sure why, because in many cases I agree with what people are protesting for. I suspect that, like many other scientists, I feel uncomfortable playing the role of the activist.