Philosophy Research

How do you pronounce “Zoology”?

The word zoology is one of the most mispronounced words in the English language, even for Zoologists.

To make matters worse, the common pronunciation differs depending on which country you’re from.

For example, if you’re an American and call it Zoo-ology (like, Animal Zoo, and ology as in biology) then you’re wrong.

If you’re British, or Australian, then you’re oddly more correct, as this is more the rule than the exception.

However, the most correct pronunciation based on the spelling is Zo-ology, where “Zo” rhymes with “No”. Try saying “No-ology”, then replacing the “N” sound with a “Z” sound.

How to Pronounce Zoology
Source: English Speaking Practice YouTube channel (see below)

Not convinced?

Let’s dig a little deeper into the zoology pronunciation…

Zoology pronunciation according to the Oxford English Dictionary

The Oxford English Dictionary is widely recognised as one of the most credible and authoritative sources for the English language, both for thoroughness and historical merit.

You would therefore hope it gives us an answer on how to pronounce zoology, but you’re mistaken.

Hop over to the Oxford English Dictionary page on Zoology, and locate the box How is the noun zoology pronounced?

You will find four variations. Two British English, and two U.S. English. Each has a “play” button – try them all, then come back here.

For reference, the four pronunciations are as follows:

  • British English
    • zoo-OL-uh-jee
    • zoh-OL-uh-jee
  • U.S. English
    • zoo-AH-luh-jee
    • zoh-AH-luh-jee

I expect this has left you even more confused?

It did for me.

How do Zoology students pronounce Zoology?

This may differ from region to region, but this is a quote from a Zoology graduate:

As a Zoology graduate, I know nobody who pronounces it zo-ology, and I know a great many who pronounce it zoo-ology.

What do the Americans say about the pronunciation of Zoology?

I scouted YouTube and found the following video from English Speaking Practice to be quite good.

The video explains the different pronunciations (or mispronunciations) of zoology, comparing the word Zoology to other words ending in “ology” such as Biology, Anthropology, Epidemiology, and so forth.

You will note at the beginning of the video, the speaker raises the point the pronunciation zoo-ology would require another o.

However, he fails to mention the point no word in the English language is spelt with three o’s.

That would be, just, odd.

(No, “Wooo” is not a proper word.)

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Zoology as “a branch of biology concerned with the classification and vital phenomena of animals”. This clarifies the “ology” part, and we all know the word “Zoo” is associated with animals, which is why Zoo-ology sounds more natural, and why it’s easy to understand why most Zoologists call it such.

If you took the time to watch the above video, you will now be convinced Zo-ology is the correct pronunciation, which is technically correct given the number of o’s.

But I’m sure you know the English language is rife with oddities. Should you care?

I don’t think so.

Especially if you’re British or Australian.

Why you should pronounce Zoology as Zoo-ology

Many words in the English language are pronounced differently to how they appear on paper.

Let’s start with an example:

  • Worcester Sauce.

Try asking for that in a British pub. Worchester sauce is pronounced “WUSS-tuh-sheer sauce”, after the English town it hails from.

Many Brits shorten Worchester Sauce further to be “WUSS-tuh sauce”. This is incorrect, but still perfectly acceptable and understood (unless you’re a die-hard Olde English teacher).

If you ask for WUSS-tuh sauce in a British pub, you’ll get exactly the sauce you want, without any confusion or baffled expressions.

Try it.

How about Quinoa?

Quinoia is not pronounced “Quin-wa” like many would think. It’s pronounced “Keen-wa”.

Find any other word in the English language starting with “Qu” which is pronounced “Kee”. The Queen of England, God bless her, would turn in her grave to hear herself called the Kee-een of England.

When I moved from the UK to Australia I asked a girl out on a date to the cinema. She corrected my pronunciation, which made me (1) feel idiotic, and (2) baffled I had pronounced the word incorrectly for the first 30 years of my life.

I pronounced it Cine-mar, and not Cine-ma.

How could I get this wrong?

I later came to the realisation (while on the phone to my dear mother) the British and Australian pronunciations were different. Credit to Australia for having the more technically correct pronunciation, but the English pronunciation ends in mar. At least in the region of England I grew up.

You can therefore conclude, the pronunciation of Zoology can be a personal preference, or regional preference. Therefore, you may pronounce Zoology the way which sounds better to you.

Personally I prefer Zoo-ology. It sounds more natural in the spoken word.

You can pronounce it Zo-ology, and I will completely understand you, and won’t be offended in any way.

I’m glad we don’t write it “zooology”. If we did, it would likely be the most misspelt word in the English language.

How do you pronounce Zoology, and why?

Horses Research

How Do Genetics Affect a Horses Behaviour?

A large part of a horses behaviour is learned, but did you know there are some behaviours which are determined by genetics?

These include:


Horses’ eyes see independently to the front, side and rear at the same time. They have good sideways vision, which is why a horse may shy, when a rider least expects it, at something glimpsed from the corner of its eye.

Horses have blind spots both to the front and rear, making it difficult to focus on objects directly in front. To bring an object into focus, they must raise and lower their heads. They are believed to be colour-blind and to have difficulty distinguishing small objects such as rabbits or birds, but they are highly sensitive to sudden movements.

Hearing and Smell

Both of these senses are well developed in the horse. Horses can hear tones higher than humans can, and may be frightened by a noise that the rider does not notice. Sudden or loud noises are especially upsetting to horses, while calm gentle voice tones are pacifying and will generally elicit a good response.

On windy days, horses often become unsettled because they cannot hear or smell the usual sounds and scents. They can become unsettled by unfamiliar scents. When a colt is introduced to a saddle and blanket, it should be allowed to smell the new objects for the first few times it is saddled.

Skin Sensitivity

Horses’ skin is highly sensitive, especially at the mouth, feet, flanks, neck and shoulders. This makes these areas useful in training and handling. Some horses are more sensitive than others and extra care must be taken when grooming them.

Memory and Learning Ability

Horses’ brains are very small for their size and their behaviour is governed by instinct rather than reason. They are considered to have a very good memory which is why they can be trained and remember what they have learned. They learn through a system of repetition, rewards and correction (conditioning and shaping). To ensure successful conditioning, the rewards or corrections must be given immediately after the action because the horse will not connect the behaviour with the trainer’s response if there is a delay between them.

Herd Instinct

Horses in the wild band together and each horse has its’ place in the social hierarchy. A single leader exerts authority over the other members of the herd. This instinct to look for and defer to leadership allows trainers to exert control, providing that person gives clear, consistent and calm instructions and handling.

The herd instinct also means that when a new horse is introduced to other horses, it must be watched carefully because the horses may injure each other while they try to establish their place in the hierarchy.

Animal Welfare Research Wildlife

Threats to Sea Turtles on the Sunshine Coast

Sea turtles have been returning to the land for over 100 million years to lay their eggs, but today their populations are experiencing detrimental human-induced impacts which threaten their extinction.

The purpose of this study is to cover the threats our sea turtles face, in Australia and around the world.

Types of turtle on the Sunshine Coast

On the Sunshine Coast of Australia, the most prominent species to lay eggs on our beaches is the Loggerhead (Caretta caretta). To a a lesser extent the Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas).

Sea Turtle

To give you an idea of the importance of protecting these turtles, the number of Loggerhead Turtles on Australia’s eastern coast amounts to as little as 500 nesting females, which makes the Sunshine Coast population a small but very important sub-population.

The Sunshine Coast is also home to the Flatback turtle (Natator depressus) and Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata).

That makes the Sunshine Coast home to four of the seven recognised species of sea turtle in existence today:

  • Green turtle (Chelonia mydas)
  • Loggerhead (Caretta caretta)
  • Flatback (Natator depressus)
  • Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata)
  • Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea)
  • Olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea)
  • Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)

Threats to Sea Turtles

There are many threats to our sea totals, but the below five are considered the most significant:

  • Plastic
  • Foxes
  • Pacific Adventurer oil spill
  • Discarded fishing line
  • Ghost nets

Let’s take a look at these five threats in more detail:

Plastic in the marine environment

If someone had suggested a hundred years ago humankind would create a material so resilient and pervasive it would become a toxic unsightly legacy that would help push individual species to the brink of extinction, we would’ve thought they were joking.

Of course such a scenario was never the intention.  It is, however, today’s reality, and plastic can seriously undermine entire ecological systems.

Plastic in the North Pacific Gyre (photo courtesy Algalita Marine Research Foundation)
Plastic in the North Pacific Gyre

While the issue of plastic supermarket bags continues to be handballed around the political arena, more than 1 million marine animals die every single year from entanglement in or ingestion of a whole range of anthropogenic debris, mostly plastics and other synthetic substances.

Whereas effort has been made to reduce the number of plastic bags in circulation, we still consume many products contained or made with plastic, which are often discarded without consideration for the environment.

The staggering quantities of plastic waste trapped in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre raises great concern, especially with the vast quantities of plastic waste accumulating daily.

When such information passes the public eye, such as an event, article, or documentary, we often ask “How can this happen?”

The North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, as a key example, is an area of ocean fifty times the size of Tasmania.

How can such an area by covered in plastic so thick it looks like a solid surface?

This gyre is affected by a combination of ocean and atmospheric currents which combine to capture and hold the waste, which makes it an unnatural ocean “landfill” on a scale few of us can comprehend.

In fact, while the plastic soup in the north Pacific is shocking beyond belief, the problem is by no means confined to that area.

Consider this – today almost anywhere on earth a scientist can examine a cup of sand or seawater and find a range of plastics in a variety of sizes.

So how does this happen?

Problem #1: Plastic is not biodegradable

No one can say exactly how much plastic has been manufactured since its invention but one thing is known for sure – all of it is still with us.

Plastic is not biodegradable.

Organic material such as food scraps or paper will eventually break down to become carbon dioxide and water. Plastic on the other hand is bio-inert, which means it is chemically very stable and will not degrade like naturally occurring materials.

Instead, plastic will be progressively weakened by sun and sea until it becomes brittle and breaks up into increasingly smaller pieces. It will not reduce to carbon dioxide and water.

Problem #2: We have a heavy reliance on too much plastic

Simply put – we use way too much plastic.

Our food packaging system relies almost entirely on plastic, and the common method of marketing other goods means the majority of non-food consumables are also packaged in plastic.

In Australia alone more than 700 million litres of bottled water are consumed every year.

Each bottle might take on average a couple of minutes to consume, but hundreds of years from now the bottle will still exist.

Problem #3: Plastic is easy to discard as litter

Plastic is very lightweight and can easily be blown directly into the ocean or make its way there via urban drains, creeks and rivers.

In years gone by, many countries also dumped millions of tons of municipal garbage directly into the ocean.

While this practice has almost stopped, the legacy is enduring to the point that in many areas of the ocean surface plastic outweighs plankton.

Some countries still discard plastic waste into our oceans.

How does plastic threaten marine life?

The effect of plastic on marine life can be devastating.

Minute particles of plastic are consumed by the filter feeder organisms that form the base of the marine food web.

This presents two problems in that plastic materials themselves are known to be toxic and they also appear to act as a sponge for other pollutants which are taken up by the filter feeders.

As the plastic molecules progress through each trophic feeding level, animals at the upper trophic levels, such as birds, fish, marine mammals and sea turtles can accumulate increasingly larger quantities of toxins in their bodies.

A plastic bag in the water can look remarkably like a jellyfish. (Photo courtesy NOAA)
A plastic bag in the water can look remarkably like a jellyfish. (Photo courtesy NOAA)

Larger pieces of plastic present an additional problem. Some plastics, when in water, can look remarkably like an animal’s natural food. When an animal consumes these plastics, it can clog up their digestive system leading to prolonged and painful internal injuries, often resulting in death.

Worse yet, as the dead animal decomposes the plastic is freed, relatively intact, to be ingested by another marine animal that may again mistake it for food.

Plastic in the gut of an Albatross chick (courtesy of NOAA)
Plastic in the gut of an Albatross chick (courtesy of NOAA)

Because plastics are extremely variable in their composition, colour and shape they tend to break down to produce a correspondingly infinite variety of shapes, sizes and colours.

This diversity increases the availability to a wider range of organisms.

For example, sea turtles can mistake plastic bags for jellyfish; filter feeders (including the larger baleen marine mammals) inadvertently take up large quantities of plastic; and seabirds, particularly surface feeders, ingest large quantities of plastic both directly from the surface and through ingestion of fish and other prey.

What can we do to reduce plastic in the environment?

To most of us the problem seems almost insurmountable when we are confronted with so few alternatives to the plastic packaging that dominates the market today.

Here are some ways we can help reduce plastic in the environment:

  • Tell governments and manufacturers we have made a mistake and it is a mistake that needs to be urgently rectified.  We need to let them know it is not acceptable that a chocolate bar which takes 30 seconds to eat is packaged in a wrapper that will persist in the environment for hundreds of years. It is not okay that a disposable plastic bottle used to hold a drink that can be consumed in minutes will contribute to the already staggering millions of tons of plastic waste littering the planet.
  • Modify your personal buying habits, and encourage others to do the same. If possible, avoid products packaged in plastic, especially those which are over-packaged.
  • Minimise your use of takeaway food and drink containers. For example, carry a drink bottle from home in preference to buying bottled water.

Foxes as a threat to sea turtles

Foxes are a serious threat to turtles and other native wildlife on the Sunshine Coast.

Red fox in Australia - threat to wildlife and sea turtles
Foxes in Australia pose a threat to native Australian animals including sea turtles.

Introduced to Australia in the mid 1800s for hunting purposes, the European Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) can now be found in every part of the Australian mainland, except the tropical north.

The fox is regarded as one of the most elusive animals in the world, which is probably why people are generally surprised to learn that there are an estimated 7 million foxes in Australia.

That’s around one fox for every three Australians!

It is estimated it took only 100 years for foxes to achieve their current distribution in Australia, which is not surprising when you consider the following:

  • Foxes are extremely adaptable, being equally at home in coastal dunes, bushland, urban environments and agricultural landscapes. In Australia the population density in urban areas is estimated to be around 12/km2 (in Melbourne as high as 16/km2).
  • Foxes are sexually mature from about 10 months of age.
  • Foxes mate once a year in winter and produce on average four pups but can have as many as ten per litter.
  • Around the age of 6 to 9 months foxes will disperse from where they were born. Females usually disperse 3-15km and males 11-43km, although distances much longer have been recorded.
  • Foxes are primarily carnivorous scavengers and opportunistic predators that are well adapted to utilising a varied diet.
  • Depending on breeding and immigration rates, fox populations can withstand up to 75% yearly mortality rates.

Foxes have long been recognised as a serious threat to much of Australia’s wildlife – not only turtle eggs and hatchlings.

Australia’s wildlife has not evolved in the presence of foxes and consequently usually lacks the necessary skills to avoid fox predation.

To give you an idea of the potential impact of foxes in Australian ecosystems, consider the following:

  • Any animal up to 5.5kg may be taken as prey, which includes the majority of Australia’s mammals and almost all of its reptiles, birds and insects.
  • A single fox eats an average 400g of food per night, or 150kg per year, made up of a huge range of human scraps, mammals, reptiles, birds and invertebrates.
  • The fox is known to have caused the extinction of at least 6 Australian mammals and is in the process of driving a further 10 animal species to the brink of extinction.
  • Through predation of eggs and hatchlings, the fox is one of the most significant threats to endangered Loggerhead turtles nesting on Sunshine Coast beaches.
  • Foxes also regularly prey on domestic poultry and stock, which are usually easy targets for the hunting prowess of foxes. In 2004 it was estimated the cost of foxes to the environment and the agricultural sector was in the order of almost $230 million.

The mortality of young foxes is high (up to 80% in the first year) with most deaths caused by road-kill, disease, trapping, poisoning and food shortage.

In the fox’s native Europe and North America, distemper and mange are thought to be significant natural controlling factors, but their role in the Australian environment is not currently known.

Despite the high mortality rate, the fox’s inherent capacity to breed quickly and establish new territories has resulted in a fox population in Australia that is at least stable, but likely increasing in some areas.

Pacific Adventurer oil spill

On 11 March 2009 the Pacific Adventurer, enroute from Newcastle to Indonesia, Cyclone Hamish, ran into trouble off the northern tip of Moreton Island in South East Queensland.

Cyclone Hamish
Cyclone Hamish

The 185m container ship lost 31 containers of ammonium nitrate after they came loose in high seas whipped up by Cyclone Hamish.

Some of the containers subsequently pierced the ship’s hull, releasing more than 200 tonnes of fuel oil into the ocean, which coated beaches and headlands on Moreton Island and the Sunhine Coast.

At the time the oil spill occurred there were still sixteen sea turtle nests between Shelly Beach and Buddina that hadn’t emerged.

Oil threat to sea turtles
Oil threat to sea turtles

Volunteers from Sunshine Coast TurtleCare, officers from the Sunshine Coast Regional, SCRCCouncil and Queensland’s Environment Protection Agency worked together to protect the remaining nests by containing hatchlings to prevent them running across oil contaminated beaches.

The hatchlings were contained by placing purpose built enclosures that attached simply but securely to the existing fox exclusion mesh barriers that were in place over each nest.

Loggerhead hatchlings released at Teewah Beach in  March 2009, courtesy of Lesley Eagles, EPA
Loggerhead hatchlings released at Teewah Beach in March 2009, courtesy of Lesley Eagles, EPA

Approximately 300 hatchlings from three nests emerged in the few days immediately following the spill and they were safely released at the unaffected Teewah Beach where they were able to undertake a relatively normal run to the ocean.

Hatchlings from a further three nests in the following days were released at Shelly Beach and Dicky Beach, which were then free of any oil contamination.

Another two nests emerged prior to the permanent removal of the enclosures. The hatchlings were released at the nest site after it was confirmed to be clear of any oil hazard.

SCRC workers cleaning oil from beach
SCRC workers cleaning oil from beach

The response to the crisis from volunteers and the wider Sunshine Coast community was overwhelmingly supportive with offers of assistance flooding in to the agencies participating in the clean up.

Discarded fishing line kills wildlife

When fishing line and hooks are carelessly discarded into the environment they have the potential of injuring and killing a wide range of wildlife.

The danger of fishing line to wildlife

The effects of ghost nets that have been abandoned or lost at sea are well documented. But perhaps not so well known are the devastating effects for some wildlife of carelessly discarded or lost fishing line from recreational fishers.

Fish and marine mammals, birds and reptiles can become entangled in old line or snagged by hooks, resulting in serious injury or death.

Shore birds can become entangled in line while foraging on the shore and land birds will often attempt to incorporate old fishing line into their nests, sometimes with disastrous effects for hatching chicks.

The Sunshine Coast Regional Council, with the assistance of funding from the Federal government’s Caring for our Country grant program, has installed special fishing line recycling bins at key locations on the Sunshine Coast.

A total of twenty-three bins have been placed at boat ramps, near fish cleaning tables and at popular fishing spots on the coast.

People are urged to use the bins to dispose of any unwanted fishing line and tackle to reduce the amount of line finding its way into the environment.

The new bins follow a successful trial in the Noosa area several years ago and, once the current installations are all done, the bins will be in use right across the region.

How Ghost Nets threaten Sea Turtles

Ghost nets are fishing nets which have been either lost or abandoned at sea.

Sometimes nicknamed “walls of death” they drift on ocean currents indiscriminately catching a wide range of marine animals, including turtles, dugong, sharks and dolphins.

A sea turtle in a ghost net
A sea turtle in a ghost net

For thousands of years the Gulf of Carpentaria has acted as a catchment for marine debris for the Indo-Pacific region. In the past currents sweeping into the Gulf carried debris like canoes, organic fibre nets, tree logs and other organic material.

Over the last few decades, however, the composition of the debris has changed dramatically.

Nets woven from natural fibres have given way to synthetic nets which are so resilient they can persist in the marine environment for hundreds of years.

Once inside the Gulf, the nets – often still buoyed by floats – become trapped in the clockwise spin of the Gulf of Carpentaria Gyre which is fed by the north-west monsoon pattern.

These “ghost nets” will remain in an endless cycle of washing ashore in storms and back into the spin of the gyre unless they are collected when they are washed ashore.

The growing weight of dead animals in the nets can outweigh the buoyancy of the floats and force the net out of circulation for a while.

Turtle tangled in ghost net.
Turtle tangled in ghost net. Image courtesy of NOAA.

However, after the trapped dead animals break down or get eaten the net’s buoyancy returns and it is set adrift to start the cycle all over again.

The Carpentaria Ghost Net Programme, led by indigenous communities in the Gulf, commenced in 2004 with the assistance of Federal government NHT funding.

In a 50 month period up to July 2009 almost 90,000m of ghost netting had been collected from the Gulf.

Can you imagine the shear size of that netting?

The largest nets found to date in the Gulf were Taiwanese gill nets which stretched out to approximately 4km in length with a drop of 12m.

It is hard to imagine the devastating effect of that netting to sea turtles and other sea life.

Sea turtle books for young and general readers

Books for young readers

The Smallest Turtle by Lynley Dodd
2008, ABC Books
ISBN 0733322085

Little Turtle and the Song of the Sea by Norma Burgin & illustrated by Sheridan Cain
2001, Little Tiger Press
ISBN 1854306200

One Tiny Turtle by Jane Chapman & Nicola Davies
2005, Candlewick Press
ISBN 0763623113

Diego and the Baby Sea Turtles by Warner McGee & Lisa Rao
2001, Crabtree Publishing Co
ISBN 1416954503

Baby Turtle’s Tales by Elle J McGuiness
2009, Andrews McMeal
ISBN 0740781022

Turtle (Watch Me Grow)
2006, Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd
ISBN 1405313099

Turtle’s Song by Alan Brown & illustrated by Kim Michelle Toft
2001,University of Queensland Press
ISBN 1702231533

Journey of the Sea Turtle by Mark Wilson
2009, Lothian Books
ISBN 073441109X

Endangered Sea Turtles by Bobbie Kalman
2004 by Crabtree Publishing Co
ISBN 0778718999

Into the Sea by Brenda Z. Guiberson & illustrated by Alix Berenzy
1996, Henry Holt
ISBN 0805022635

Sea Turtles (Undersea Encounters) by Mary Jo Rhodes & David hall
2005, Children’s Press
ISBN 0516243918

Books for general readers

Sea Turtles: A Complete Guide to Their Biology, Behaviour and Conservation by James R Spotila
2004, The John Hopkins Press
ISBN 0801880076

Voyage of the Turtle: In Pursuit of the World’s Last Dinosaur by Carl Safina
2007, Owl Books, Henry Holt Co.
ISBN 0805083189

Sea Turtles: An Extraordinary Natural History of Some Uncommon Turtles by Blair Ernest Witherington
2006, Voyager Press
ISBN 100760326444

Interrupted Journey: Saving Endangered Sea Turtles by Kathryn Lasky & Christopher G. Knight
2001, Candlewick Press
ISBN 0763606359

The Biology of Sea Turtles, by Peter L. Lutz, John A. Musick
1996, CRC Press
ISBN 0849384222

The Biology of Sea Turtles, Vol 2 by Peter Lutz, John A. Musick & Jeanette Wyneken
1996, CRC Press
ISBN 0849311233

Sea Turtles: An Ecological Perspective by David Gulko & Karen Eckert
2004, Mutual Publishing Co
ISBN 1566476518

References & Further Research

Animal Welfare Behaviour Management Research Wildlife

Microbats & Bat Facts

Facts About Bats!

Western Broad-nosed Bat Pups
Western Broad-nosed Bat Pups
  • Bats have existed for at least 55 million years.
  • Bats can consume half their body weight in insects per night during the warmer/summer months. Pregnant bats can consume up to their entire body weight in insects per night in the warmer/summer months.
  • Microbats go into ‘torpor’ during the cooler/colder months from approximately May to August.
  • Flying-foxes do not go into torpor so need to feed and drink all year around.
  • Bats must not be disturbed when in ‘torpor’/hibernation as they can lose their energy/fat supply which has been stored/built-up ready for the winter, resulting in the eventual death of the bats.
  • Microbats are our most environmentally-friendly pest exterminators feeding on many mosquitoes, beetles, flies, moths, and many, many more insects.
  • Flying-foxes are one of our essential night pollinators and long-distance ‘native tree’ planters/foresters.
  • Bats generally live to between 5-10 years but can live up to 20 – 30 years. A small Myotis Fishing Bat has been recorded living approximately 41 years!! (Susan Barnard – Bats in Captivity Volume)
  • Bats can hang upside down by their feet, with little effort. It takes more effort for a bat to release the tendons in its feet to fly away.
  • The word ‘Chiroptera’ – the Order of Bats – means ‘hand-wing’. Microchiroptera (sub-order) relates to our microbats. Megachiroptera (sub-order) relates to our megabats, for example, the Flying Foxes/Fruit/Blossom Bats.
  • Bats have incredible membranes in between their elongated fingers. They do have a thumb and four fingers.
  • Bats have varying tails, for example, a tail which is enclosed fully within the membrane like the Gould’s Wattled Bat. The Yellow-Bellied Sheathtail Bat has half its tail enclosed in the tail membrane. The White-Striped Freetail Bat and the Southern Freetail Bat have a ‘free-tail’ with minimal tail membrane. The Flying Foxes have no tail.
  • The rare Ghost Bat can be viewed at the Adelaide Zoo. These Ghost Bats are part of the Australasian Regional Zoos Program. The Adelaide Zoo has had reasonable success with breeding Ghost Bats, and have bred 17 individuals in the past 10 years.
  • The most commonly ‘heard’ bats around Adelaide are the White-Striped Freetail Bat and the Yellow-Bellied Sheathtail Bat (due to humans only being able to hear at approximately 20khz and below).
  • The most commonly ‘rescued’ bats are the Gould’s Wattled Bat, the Lesser Long-eared Bat, the Southern Freetail Bat, the Chocolate Wattled Bat.
  • Bats are placental mammals giving birth to live pups/young just like humans do and only have 1-2 babies per year if that! Twins are common in some species of Microbats.
  • There are presently 8 common species, 6 rare species and 1 endangered species.

Diet, Habitat & Behaviour

Microbats consume approximately half their body weight in insects per night over the warmer/summer months. They are our natural pest-controllers. Their diet is full of many types of insects, including mosquitoes, moths, beetles, flying ants, caterpillars and flies.


Microbats are nocturnal. They are warm-blooded, placental mammals. They live in tree-hollows, under loose/exfoliating bark, in old sheds, in caves, and also co-exist with humans in their homes, for example, in roof spaces and wall linings without any concerns in general.

In the cooler months, between May to August, our bats go into torpor, similar to hibernation. They must not be disturbed during these cooler months. If they are disturbed, they can lose their precious fat storage/supplies that they have built up ready for their slumber, and possibly die as a consequence.

Microbats are very secretive little creatures. We need to respect their privacy and let them go about their business – eradicating all those pest insects the natural way!

Threats To Our Bat Populations

Humans seem to be the major threat to bats!  We are taking away their habitat daily. We are cutting down trees which provide homes for these little nocturnal mammals (tree hollows take approximately 100 years to develop!).

We use too many pesticides in our parks and gardens. Remember our bats eat some of these insects that have been poisoned!

Our domesticated cats and dogs can also bring these little mammals inside to show us what they have caught like they do with mice and baby birds!

Here are some reasons why bats in Australia require rescue and human help:

  • They are brought in by domesticated cats and dogs
  • They are brought in because they are found on the ground/exposed during the day (this is not where they should be)
  • They have fractures to their very delicate bones, generally to the forearm
  • They have torn membranes – wing damage
  • They have been electrocuted/severe burns
  • They have Alopecia – fur/hair loss
  • They are Anaemic
  • They are about to give birth
  • They are very thin
  • They are still pups – baby bats are called pups
  • They can land in dog/animal water-bowls and swimming pools and need assistance and drying out before they can be released that evening (depending once again on weather conditions/season, and condition of the bat).  They have come down for a drink and, unfortunately, cannot fly back out again once water-logged

Usually though, a short time in care can see bats released back into their natural habitat.

Cats especially will pierce the skin/tear membranes and will generally infect the bat as cats carry many bacteria on their teeth.  Immediate Veterinarian attention is necessary to help save the bat.  Please go to for the CatBib which can help prevent cats from killing our wildlife.

Disturbance to bats during Autumn and Winter when they are hibernating/in torpor can kill many bats.  So please stay away from caves, especially, where many cave-dwelling bats will colonise and torpor during the colder months.

On occasions, bats are found in homes (roof spaces/wall linings), sheds (under hessian bags or horse blankets), roosting in/on machinery and other cosy, warm spots!  Please do not disturb or handle them.  Please contact us for assistance.

Natural causes including drought, storms and climate change are impacting on bat populations, especially, the Southern Bent-wing Bat which is now endangered within South Australia!   This species is critically endangered around Australia!!  Further reading is available on the Southern Bent-wing Bat of the Naracoorte Caves. 

Please contact James Smith, FauNature for further advice on bats co-existing with people and the benefits of artificial roost boxes.

The Ghost Bat, Australia’s largest carnivorous echolocating bat, was recorded in the past (prior to 1970) around the Flinders Ranges in South Australia.  This bat is a threatened ‘vulnerable’ species, restricted to caves and abandoned mines. This species is now restricted to Tropical Northern Australia.  Destruction and disturbance have caused their numbers to dramatically decline (Sue Churchill –  ‘Australian Bats’ – Second Edition).  Zoos SA – Adelaide Zoo – have been part of the Australasian Regional Zoo Conservation Program for over ten years with reasonable success, having bred over 17 individuals during this period of time.  The lifespan of the Ghost Bat is approximately 15 to 20 years.

Echolocation – ‘Seeing with Sound’!

Bats emit a high-frequency call when searching for their insects. The call is emitted from the mouth and nose of the bat. The sonar pulses/signals emitted are returned to the bat as an echo, giving the bat the information of the size of insect and its location. Most bat sonar pulses are beyond the range of human hearing.


Two Adelaide bats are within our range of hearing, these being:

  • Yellow-bellied Sheathtail Bat (Saccolaimus flaviventris)
  • White-striped Freetail Bat (Tadarida australis)

There is a lovely book available now through CSIRO –  ‘BATS – Working the Night Shift’.

This is an excellent book if you wish to learn more about Echolocation and anything else about our beautiful Australian bats!  Dr Greg Richards and Dr Les Hall are the wonderful authors.

Bat Conservation International also have an Educational Manual called ‘Discovering Bats’ which has a very informative section on Echolocation.

Microbat Care & Rehabilitation Process

We assess the bat for any injuries, and have Veterinarians who can assist us promptly with treatment and medications.

Depending upon the injury, some of the bats that have come into care go back to where they came from within a few days. Unfortunately, many require euthanasing due to their terrible injuries.

Only a small number of microbats are kept in permanent care if they are unable to be released back into the wild.   Specialised Permits must be obtained from the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources to care for these specialised mammals.

In care, our orphaned pups receive Wombaroo Insectivorous Bat Milk Replacer (a wonderful South Australian product). Our juvenile and adult bats are offered mealworms, moths, crickets and woodies in general.  Supplementary additives such as Wombaroo Insect Booster (new product line), Wombaroo Small Carnivore/Insectivore Mixture and Missing Link (Omega 3 Supplement) are also provided as a medium/gut-loader for our insects prior to feeding to our bats. Visit Wombaroo for more information on these wonderful products!  

Fresh water is also a necessity daily as bats do enjoy, and require, their drinks of water.

Case Study: Gould’s Wattled Bats


This is a photograph of mum (middle) and twin male Gould’s Wattled Bats born in care.

These twin males were approximately 6 weeks of age in this photograph. The twins were born on 4 November 2007.

By approximately 3 months of age, these pups are weaned from their mother’s milk and are independent, out in the night sky catching their own insects.

Further Reading

For some excellent Resources on caring for orphaned pups, please refer to Basically BatsBatworld Sanctuary and the other wonderful carers listed under the Links & Bat Books / Educational Brochures sections.

Releasing Microbats back into the Wild

Bats MUST be able to fly extremely well before being released back into the wild.

They must be eating well.

Artificial roost boxes are provided for those bats that are to be in care for a longer period so when the time comes for release, their new/alternative home can be fixed to a nice tall tree. These boxes need to be fixed at 4 metres or more to avoid predation by cats and foxes. They require a clear flight path.

For further informative information on roost boxes, please visit FauNature, the Australasian Bat Society and our Links page.

Case Study: Western Broad-nosed Bat


This is a photograph of a Western Broad-nosed Bat (Scotorepens balstoni), juvenile female weighing just 5 grams!

Found exposed in the daylight on the ground. Tiny hole in wing membrane but otherwise quite healthy but still a youngster.

She was in care for two weeks before being released on a delightfully warm night with plenty of insects and century-old Eucalyptus camaldulensis (River Red Gum) hollows to choose from.

She flew away into the night.  Sweet little one!

Research Wildlife

Keeping Blotched Blue Tongued Lizards

Our experiences with blotched blue tongue lizards demonstrate very clearly how well suited to outdoor enclosures these lizards are.

Their large size, longevity, willingness to breed and ease of maintenance make them ideal for novice reptile keepers (especially children) to gain competence and experience in reptile husbandry

This study of keeping blotched blue tongue lizards (Tiliqua Nigrolutea) represents the knowledge and experience of Michael and Jacqui Throw, with photography from Michael Throw.


Blotched blue tongued lizards Tiliqua nigrolutea are truly cool climate
lizards being widespread in Tasmania (including the larger Bass Strait islands) as well as cooler, higher rainfall districts in south eastern South Australia, southern Victoria and mountain habitats in New South Wales.

Distribution of Blotched Blue-Tongued Lizards

Within Tasmania blotched blue tongues are common and widespread, occurring in most habitat types from coastal heath to highland forests. They are very familiar to the general public because of their abundance around towns and cities throughout the State.

This article outlines our successful strategies at keeping and breeding this species outdoors at Ulverstone in northern Tasmania.

Our breeding adults have all been wild caught or were injured animals removed from hostile urban situations (eg. dog attacks).

They are maintained in outdoor enclosures of various shapes and sizes, for the most part dictated by the shape of our block and the absolutely essential requirement of 7-8 hours of sunlight during the summer months.

As with all captive reptiles, thermoregulation is the most important consideration in positioning of outdoor enclosures and should reflect, as closely as possible, the natural activity patterns of the reptiles involved.

Failure to achieve this will result in poor feeding, stunted development, and a lack of reproduction or the failure of embryos to develop properly in gravid females.

This is particularly important for large, sun loving species like T. nigrolutea that will forage in the midday sun in mid-summer (in Tasmania) when most self respecting reptiles have retired to shady retreats.

We have captured blotched blue tongue specimens in the wild with body temperatures as high as 36°C.


Our enclosures are essentially a sturdy wooden frame with short lengths of recycled wooden fence palings nailed to it to form a wall from just below ground level to a height of 60cm.

Our smallest enclosure is approximately 1.5 m square and the largest is 6 x 1m.

Keeping Blotched Bluetongue Lizards - Enclosure
Blotched Blue-tongue Lizard Enclosure

The enclosures have small shrubs and low ground cover plants planted in them as well as plenty of cover in the form of rocks and curved slabs of thick eucalypt bark.

Such varied ground cover is essential in providing a range of micro-habitats with varying temperature regimes that allow the lizards to precisely
maintain their preferred body temperature simply by moving from site to site within the enclosure during the course of the day.

Over winter, dens are plastic bins loosely filled with dry grass with entrance holes cut into the sides.

These are hidden from view behind vegetation and slabs of bark.

Heavy, earthenware water bowls are present in each enclosure and water
is changed regularly.

Reproduction & Breeding Behaviour

We house both blotched blue tongue sexes together all year round but no more than one adult male is present in a single enclosure during the courtship and mating period from October through to the end of November.

This is because sexually active males will savagely attack one another for access to females.

Attacks may include biting around the rival’s head or attempting to damage or remove limbs by biting them firmly and spinning around crocodile fashion.

Our breeding blotched blue tongue males are rotated around the enclosures weekly during the breeding season to increase our chances of reproductive success.

Mating is a somewhat violent affair with many people including some novice reptile keepers, misinterpreting it for fighting.

Male blue tongues grasp the female’s body tightly in their jaws just behind the front legs and can remain attached in this way for hours at a time.

If receptive, the female blue tongue will raise her tail off the ground to allow copulation to occur.

Males routinely break the females skin while holding on with their teeth and older females can often be seen in the wild with considerable scar tissue on their backs just behind the front legs from numerous matings during their lives.

Such scar tissue can be a very reliable indicator of sex when collecting these lizards.

Male blotched blue tongues are generally shorter and lighter than females with relatively larger heads and front legs.

Gestation in gravid females takes place over a a 4-5 month period with births in our collection taking place from mid-February to late March.

Our clutch sizes have ranged from one to ten and are directly related to the size of the female with our largest specimens (435mm, 640g) giving birth to the largest clutches.

Rearing Young

Because blotched blue tongue neonates are born in or close to autumn and the onset of cold, wet weather, we keep them indoors in heated cages for the first 5-6 months and return them into the outdoor enclosures the following spring.

Indoors, the neonates are maintained in glass fronted melamine cages 40x30x30cm in dimension and heated with a single 25 watt globe set on a timer.

The temperature gradient ranges from 25°C at the warm end to 18°C at the cool end.

Growth over the first 6 months is rapid with neonates ranging from 125-150mm and 13-17g at birth to around 300mm and 170g when taken back outside to the enclosures.

In five years breeding the same blotched blue tongue adults, we have found that generally, females will only reproduce every second year with only one female reproducing in consecutive years with the second clutch being half the size of the first one. (numbers in each clutch??)

There does not appear to be any reliable data on growth rates of blotched blue tongues in the wild or their size at sexual maturity but captive bred specimens in our collection have reproduced at one year of age.

One female gave birth to a single baby when only 302mm in total length and weighing 178g.

This indicates that wild specimens probably reproduce in their second or third year.


One of the factors that makes blotched blue tongues (and all blue tongue species in general) so popular with reptile keepers and especially children, is their very catholic omnivorous diet.

Blotched blue tongue lizards will eat almost anything we do, from fruit and vegetables to fungi and meat.

While the docility of these lizards is legendary, most people do not realise that in the wild they can be savage predators, attacking a range of small animals from nestling birds and juvenile rodents to animals as large as leverets (baby hares), 120mm in length (Spencer, 2004).

We have found the best results are obtained by offering these lizards an approximately 50/50 diet of protein and vegetable matter.

Early in the season when our lizards first emerge from winter torpor (August/September) they are fed once a week but with increasing day length and warmth into summer, feeding is increased to every two days.

Meals are alternated between protein (pinky mice and rats, snails or tinned dog food) and fruit (eg. banana, strawberries) and simply offered on a flat tray placed in the enclosure.

Neonates are fed pinky mice for their first couple of feeds to give them a good head start with alternating protein and fruit meals from then on in exactly the same way as for our adults.

Frequent Questions About Blue Tongue Lizards

For completeness, below you will find some of the common questions about blotched blue tongue lizards and keeping them as pets. Most of these questions and answers are applicable to blue tongue lizards in general.

Are blue tongue lizards dangerous?

Blue-tongue lizards are not venomous, and although they can and do bite their teeth are used more for crushing rather than tearing. If you are bitten, such as on your finger, it is unlikely they will break the skin or cause real harm. They can, however, be quite persistent and refuse to release their bite.

How to tell the age of a blue tongue lizard

Telling the age of any lizard can be difficult due to many variables. Two lizards born on the same day may grow at vastly different rates. Some may grow to full size within 6 months, whereas others can take 2 years.

Quite often a blotched blue tongue lizard will be born between 15 to 20cm, and have been known to grow as much as 70cm.

How to tell the sex of a blue tongue lizard

Telling the sex of any blue tongue lizard may also be difficult. A male blue tongue will usually have a more triangular-shaped head, thicker tail, and often thinner sides than a female. Eye colour for male blue tongues is usually more orange and brighter than the brown eyes common with females.

It is common to confuse a larger female, especially those with greater fat storage within their tales, with a male blue tongue. Quite often people buy a blue tongue believing it is male, and accordingly find themselves frustrated when trying to breed.

Behaviour can offer a good indicator, especially when the blue tongue is placed with a known female. If the lizard of unknown sex begins to chase and mount the female then you very likely have a male!

For more accurate sexing it is possible to check for sperm plugs of a male, also known as a mating plug, copulation plug, or seminal plug. These plugs consist of coagulated semen which would be deposited into the genital tract of the female after mating.

During the process of excretion the eversion of hemipenes is a clear indication of a male. Hemipenes are a pair of intromittent organs common with male lizards, usually inverted, will at the time of excretion become everted. If you consider the human penis enlarging and retracting this is a similar example.

How often do blue tongue lizards eat?

As a general rule, feed your blue tongue lizard every other day during warmer weather. In colder whether they will be less active and will only need to be fed once every three days.


Spencer, C. P. (2004). Bluetongue attacks hare. The Tasmanian Naturalist 126. 18-19.

If you have further questions about botched blue tongue lizards then you may leave a message in the comments section below.


An evolutionary experiment: when did wolves become dogs and what comes next?

When did wolves become dogs?

What evolutionary and developmental processes are involved in creating physical variation?

Is selection responsible for moulding the diversity of life?

Or does developmental bias via drive and constraint determine how animal shapes change?

Abby Drake is interested in the processes that produce macroevolution and dictate which physical appearances, evolve and which do not.

She is especially interested in learning how species evolve: What mechanisms produce enough physical or behavioural change to ensure reproductive isolation on the population level?

To this end, she studies developmental processes that lead to large modifications of morphology, using variation in vertebrate skulls to answer these questions.

Abby uses three-dimensional scan data to capture each specimen’s 3D geometry.

This type of data allows her team to look at the shape of the skull holistically using a sophisticated shape analysis called geometric morphometrics.

While she also works on cetaceans, owls and primates, this episode focuses on her extensive work examining canids: when did wolves become dogs, how have we shaped them, and where might they go in the future?



Dog vs wolf skull shapes
Dog vs wolf skull shapes


A thin-plate spline warping of a wolf skull into a French Bulldog. Data are from Drake, A.G. and Klingenberg C.P. 2010.


Dr Abby Drake - When did wolves become dogs?
Dr. Abby Drake

Drake, A. G., Coquerelle, M., & Colombeau, G. (2015). 3D morphometric analysis of fossil canid skulls contradicts the suggested domestication of dogs during the late PaleolithicScientific reports5.

Drake, A. G. (2011). Dispelling dog dogma: an investigation of heterochrony in dogs using 3D geometric morphometric analysis of skull shape [PDF]. Evolution & Development, 13(2), 204-213. **If you download and open this pdf with Adobe Reader 9 or higher you can rotate and magnify the skulls in the figures.

Drake, A. G., & Klingenberg, C. P. (2010). Large‐scale diversification of skull shape in domestic dogs: disparity and modularity. The American Naturalist, 175(3), 289-301.

Drake, A. G., & Klingenberg, C. P. (2008). The pace of morphological change: historical transformation of skull shape in St Bernard dogs. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 275(1630), 71-76.


Abby Drake: ResearchGate Profile

Abby Drake on Twitter: @AbbyGraceDrake

Daily Mail (UK): 30,000 year-old fossil of the oldest dog turns out to be a wolf

CBS News: When did dogs become man’s best friend?

Biologist Drake helps answer key question in canine history: Skidmore College News

Animal Welfare Cognition Management Research Wildlife

Do fish feel pain? Diving in to the deep end of fish welfare

Do fish really feel pain?

You might assume yes, but you’d be wrong.

Kind of.

You see – it’s complicated.

Dr. Ben Diggles has worked with government, aquaculture industry, recreational fisheries, and commercial fisheries throughout New Zealand, Australia, Asia and the Pacific Islands.

Ben’s core work includes import risk analysis, fish and shellfish health, fish welfare, development of feeding attractants for aquaculture, and development of medicated feeds for aquacultured finfish.

In his spare time Ben studies the effects of declining water quality on our estuaries, and is active in his local community developing solutions to these problems, like Oyster Reef Restoration.

In this episode, we catch up on the latest scientific findings relating to fish pain and learn more about the Ikijime  method for killing fish captured for eating.

So let’s find out if fish feel pain.



How to ikijime fish with Dr. Ben Diggles
Dr. Ben Diggles – How to ikijime fish

Rose, J. D., Arlinghaus, R., Cooke, S. J., Diggles, B. K., Sawynok, W., Stevens, E. D., & Wynne, C. D. L. (2014). Can fish really feel pain?. Fish and Fisheries, 15(1), 97-133

Diggles, B. K., Cooke, S. J., Rose, J. D., & Sawynok, W. (2011). Ecology and welfare of aquatic animals in wild capture fisheries. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, 21(4), 739-765.

Diggles, B. K. (2013). Historical epidemiology indicates water quality decline drives loss of oyster (Saccostrea glomerata) reefs in Moreton Bay, Australia. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 47(4), 561-581.

See more of Dr Ben Diggles’ publications here

Ben also writes monthly columns on fish biology for the Australian Anglers Fishing World Magazine (since 1995) and Sport Fishing Magazine (since March 2003)

Ikijime tool Australia

Ikijime Tool app via iTunes

Ikijime Tool app for Android via Google Play


Ikijime website

DigsFish Services (Dr Ben Diggles) website

Grey matter matters when it comes to feeling pain (University of Queensland) – do fish feel pain?

Video – How to ikijime fish

How to care for your catch – ikijime & do fish feel pain?

Header image: Flickr/phwff-nova

Health Pets Psychology Research

Just walking the dog: what promotes healthy humans?

Did you know scientists are studying the ways that you walk your dog?

What motivates you, how long you exercise for, what features (like footpaths and dog parks) promote human activity – all these questions and more, are being studied by researchers, Hayley Christian and Carri Westgarth.

Hayley’s background in human health teamed with Carri’s expertise in canine behaviour and welfare have created a research team exploring the human, dog and environmental factors that best promote active and healthy communities.



Dog walking benefits! Dr Carri Westgarth & Dr Hayley Christian
Dr. Carri Westgarth & Dr. Hayley Christian

Westgarth, C., Christley, R. M., & Christian, H. E. (2014). How might we increase physical activity through dog walking?: A comprehensive review of dog walking correlatesInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity11(1), 83. [PDF]

Christian, H., Trapp, G., Villanueva, K., Zubrick, S. R., Koekemoer, R., & Giles-Corti, B. (2014). Dog walking is associated with more outdoor play and independent mobility for childrenPreventive medicine67, 259-263.

Westgarth, C., Christley, R. M., & Christian, H. E. (2014). How can we motivate owners to walk their dogs more? Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research9(6), e6-e7.

Christian, H. E., Westgarth, C., Bauman, A., Richards, E. A., Rhodes, R., Evenson, K. R., & Thorpe, R. J. (2013). Dog ownership and physical activity: a review of the evidence. J Phys Act Health10(5), 750-759.

Westgarth, C., Boddy, L. M., Stratton, G., German, A. J., Gaskell, R. M., Coyne, K. P., & Dawson, S. (2013). A cross-sectional study of frequency and factors associated with dog walking in 9–10 year old children in Liverpool, UKBMC public health13(1), 822.

Morrison, R., Reilly, J. J., Penpraze, V., Westgarth, C., Ward, D. S., Mutrie, N., & Yam, P. S. (2013). Children, parents and pets exercising together (CPET): exploratory randomised controlled trialBMC public health13(1), 1096.

Christian, H., Giles-Corti, B., & Knuiman, M. (2010). “I’m Just a’‐Walking the Dog” Correlates of Regular Dog WalkingFamily & community health33(1), 44-52.

For more publications, please see the researcher’s university profiles below.


Hayley Christian: University of Western Australia profile

Carri Westgarth: University of Liverpool (UK) profile

Header image: Flickr/Stefan Mortellaro

Behaviour Cognition Pets Research

Is your dog optimistic? Cognitive bias in animals

Does your pet have a glass half full, or glass half empty take on life?

It’s a recent discovery that many animals can be optimistic or pessimistic based on their experiences.

Dr. Melissa Starling holds a Bachelor of Science in Zoology and recently gained her PhD from the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney with a topic that covered elements of dog behaviour, personality, emotions and cognition.

She has long had a passion for animal behaviour and animal training that has intensified as she learns more.

In this episode, we talk to Mel about her PhD research investigating optimism and pessimism – or cognitive bias – in dogs.



Starling, M. J., Branson, N., Cody, D., Starling, T. R., & McGreevy, P. D. (2014). Developing an optimism index using results from a cognitive bias taskJournal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research9(6), e17-e18.

Starling, M. J., Branson, N., Cody, D., Starling, T. R., & McGreevy, P. D. (2014). Canine Sense and Sensibility: Tipping Points and Response Latency Variability as an Optimism Index in a Canine Judgement Bias AssessmentPloS one9(9), e107794.

Starling, M. J., Branson, N., Cody, D., & McGreevy, P. D. (2013). Conceptualising the Impact of Arousal and Affective State on Training Outcomes of Operant ConditioningAnimals3(2), 300-317.

McGreevy, P. D., Starling, M., Branson, N. J., Cobb, M. L., & Calnon, D. (2012). An overview of the dog–human dyad and ethograms within itJournal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research7(2), 103-117.

Dr Melissa Starling - Cognitive Bias in Dogs
Dr Melissa Starling – Cognitive Bias in Dogs


Melissa Starling on Twitter (@dogoptimism)

Creature Teacher (personal website)

Dog Optimism on ABC Catalyst

Video – Optimism in Dogs (Melissa Starling)

Optimism in Dogs

Cover image: Flickr/hoodsie

Management Research Technology Wildlife

A Game of Drones: Using Drones in Conservation

When someone turns a fun hobby into a game changing tool for good, it’s inspirational!

That’s exactly what Lian Pin Koh has achieved in bringing affordable drone technology to aid conservation scientists.

A tropical ecologist by training, Associate Professor Lian Pin Koh received his PhD from Princeton University, where he studied the environmental and policy implications of oil-palm development in Southeast Asia.

He then spent several years researching key scientific and policy issues concerning tropical deforestation and its impacts on carbon emissions and biodiversity while based in Zurich.

Lian Pin currently leads the Applied Ecology & Conservation group at The University of Adelaide in South Australia, where they ultimately seek to do good for society.

In this episode, we speak with Lian Pin and learn about his exciting work using drones in conservation.



Lian Pin Koh – A drone’s eye view of conservation
Using drones in conservation



Lian Pin Koh - Using drones in conservation
Assoc. Prof. Lian Pin Koh

Koh, L. P., & Wich, S. A. (2012). Dawn of drone ecology: low-cost autonomous aerial vehicles for conservation. Tropical Conservation Science, 5(2), 121-132. [PDF]

Koh, L. P. (2013, June). Brave new world of drone technology for biodiversity research and conservation. In New Frontiers in Tropical Biology: The Next 50 Years (A Joint Meeting of ATBC and OTS). Atbc. [PDF]

Paneque-Gálvez, J., McCall, M. K., Napoletano, B. M., Wich, S. A., & Koh, L. P. (2014). Small drones for community-based forest monitoring: an assessment of their feasibility and potential in tropical areas. Forests, 5(6), 1481-1507.

See more:

Lian Pin Koh on Google Scholar

Lian Pin Koh on Research Gate

Links official website

Conservation Drones on Flickr (images)

Conservation Drones on Facebook

All images used with Permission: Lian Pin Koh