James Russell

Invasive Alien Species on Islands

Invasive alien species are the major threat to islands by most metrics, and two open access papers published this week highlight this threat in different ways. In Nature Ecology and Evolution Wayne Dawson and colleagues identify global hotspots of alien ...

The Value of Tiny Islands

Tiny rock stacks around the world have critical value for conservation but are often neglected. Yesterday I visited a number of such small rock stacks in New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf to check on their status. With a fantastic cold ...

Wake Up, This Is Your Kea Alarm

Easter provided an opportunity to hike in the mountainous Southern Alps of New Zealand and to seek out some of the less common birds of New Zealand. We were not disappointed with sightings of some of the endemic residents of ...

Identifying Leptospirosis Reservoirs in New Zealand Wildlife

Leptospirosis is an infectious bacterial disease found in mammals, particularly associated with rodents. Common in the third world and tropical areas, of high rodent density, it may come as a surprise that New Zealand has one of the highest leptospirosis ...

Zero Invasive Predators at Bottle Rock

Over two years ago the NEXT foundation announced start-up funding for the new R&D company Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP). This past week I visited their intensive field site at Bottle Rock peninsula in the Marlborough Sounds for an ...

Species Introductions Accelerating

A study released this month has illustrated that the rate of species introductions to locations outside their native range is increasing faster than ever. Hanno Seebens and many others used the date of first records of introductions to plot the ...

Breeding Ground of the Mascarene Petrel Discovered

Pétrel noir de Bourbon may sound like an exotic drink, but it is actually one of the rarest birds in the world. It is so rare, that it has taken a dedicated team of conservationists 15 years just to find ...

High tech solutions to invasive mammal pests

This year the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge in New Zealand launches its project on high tech solutions to invasive mammal pests, hosted by the University of Auckland. The high tech solutions project aims to deliver the long-term science solutions ...

Re-wilding an Island

Last week I bore witness to the re-wilding of an entire island ecosystem. Invasive mammalian predators were eradicated from Ahuahu (Great Mercury Island) in 2014, and the original predators and keystone species are now returning naturally. Most exciting is witnessing the ...

Why Doubt Invasive Species Impacts?

Invasive alien species are now found on every corner of the planet and rank higher than climate change as a current threat to endangered species. So then why, despite all the scientific evidence of negative impacts from invasive species, would ...

Tracing the Global Invasion of Brown Rats

Brown rats are found throughout the world, on its continents and islands, affecting human health and biodiversity, but where did they originally come from? Researchers this month sought to answer that question when they released a global phylogeography (genetic map) ...

Terrestrial Conservation on Tetiaroa

On Tetiaroa Marlon Brando wanted to “to maintain the natural beauty of the atoll setting” and as our expedition draws to a close we too are marvelling at the natural marine and terrestrial beauty of the atoll. Although we came ...

Polynesian Rats Don’t Come From Polynesia

The Polynesian rat is distributed throughout the Pacific Ocean and is found on most islands. Early European naturalists thought that because the rat was already present it must be native to each island. However, taxonomists eventually learnt that the Polynesian, ...

Systematically Surveying the Ants of Tetiaroa

Ants are some of the best hitchhikers in the world. This is so true that in the Pacific, it’s hard to unravel whether the ants on even remote motu are native or ancient introductions with original voyagers. There are ...

Marine Conservation on Tetiaroa

Today we embarked for Tetiaroa with a two hour boat trip from Moorea. As we arrived at Tetiaroa we were fortunate enough to see humpback whales and spinner dolphins greeting us. Tetiaroa atoll was purchased by Marlon Brando in the 1960...