The Atavism

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Kiwis blogging about evolution

As any regular readers here may have noticed, my plate is pretty full at the moment. All you are likely to read here for the next little while are quick photo-centric posts about bugs and maybe a few results of my recreational statistics (I know, it's an illness really) on the New Zealand election.

So, if you are looking for some meatier posts about evolutionary biology and the like, you might want to know that there are a couple of other New Zealanders out there writing on these topics.

Paul McBride is a PhD student from AUT who blogs at Still Monkeys. Paul works on understanding how the ecological setting of a group's evolution can effect the patterns and rates of change observed in that group. So far, his evolutionary blogging has mostly been about junk DNA and the ways in which we know many of the sequences in genomes serve no particular purpose.

I particularly liked finding out that Susumu Ohno had provided a theoretical argument as to why most of our genome would prove to be useless way back in the 1970s -just as the first genetic sequences were being read in labs. You can add Ohno's insight to Haldane's estimate of the human mutation rate (before we knew what a gene was made of!) and Nei's use of the theory of segregation load to show that most observed genetic changes must occur without the help of natural selection and start to see the wisdom of the elders of population genetics! (Paul also blogs about beer, which suits me, and reminds me to add a post about the science of brewing to my todo list).


Jarrod Cusens is a Masters student, also at AUT, and he blogs at of trees birds and other things. I gather Jarrod's research is at the hub of evolution and ecology - specifically looking at how to some habitats end up playing host to diverse, species-rich assemblages of organisms while others are dominated by a few species.

Jarrod's recent posts include a look at a couple of schools in New Zealand who have given up the (very good) biology curriculum in favour of biblical creationism (including one, I'm said to say, in my turangawaewae), a profile of one of the birds that make the New Zealand spring, the shinning cuckoo, with a bit more of the cuckoo's special brand of parasitism and a whole bunch of quotes.

So, be sure to add Paul and Jarrod to your favourite feed reader, and if you know of any other kiwis bogging about evolution and ecology let met know in the comments.

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Posted by David Winter 11:51 AM

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