Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue April 2014

 The red lionfish hides in plain sight using stripes and fins that disrupt the b
Cover Story: Lions of the Caribbean
Despite the extravagent appearance of red lionfish, these voracious carnivores are virtually undetectable by small prey and are causing massive problems in the Caribbean. So why aren’t they taking over the Great Barrier Reef?
Feature: The First Breath
The African reedfish Polypterus has revealed how breathing first evolved in terrestrial animals, and perhaps how the structures of the ear first formed.
Feature: Islands of Extinction
Native mammals are disappearing rapidly as an aggressive invader takes over in forests fragmented by a hydroelectric dam.
The oil spill at Montara lasted for 74 days.
Feature: After the Oil Spill
Just 4 years after the Montara oil spill, scientists have compiled the most detailed description yet of the wildlife, fish and habitats of the Timor Sea as they monitor the recovery of the species affected by the spill.
 Moorish idol
Feature: Tropical Invaders Seek a Cool Change
As oceans warm, a new study has shown that certain measurable traits may help scientists predict which species of tropical fish will successfully shift into cooler temperate waters.
short-eared rock wallabies
Feature: Mammals on the Brink
Traditional ecological knowledge and western science have combined to address one of Australia’s most pressing biodiversity conservation issues – the decline of its native mammal species.
painted rock shelters
Feature: Reaching Australia’s Ancient Refugia
New research reveals how Australia’s ancient Aboriginal populations were challenged by extreme climate change between 23,000 and 12,000 years ago, and provides insights into how people may respond to dramatic climate change in the future.
Australasian Sky: Star Chart, April 2014
Your map of the night sky for April 2014.
conSCIENCE: Banking Living Brain Tissue
Australia needs a repository of living brain tissue to explore the next frontier of medical research.
The Bitter Pill: Seeking the Evidence for Chinese Medicine
By looking for active ingredients in traditional Chinese medicines, ethnopharmacologists are finding evidence for their efficacy.
Cool Careers: Circuits for Satellites
For a wide brown land, the prospect of finding water has always been tantalising. Now a final-year engineering student has found a way to contribute to this quest, winning a scholarship to attend the NASA Academy in the process.
Directions: Manufacturing 2.0
The motor industry collapse brings urgency to the manufacturing dilemma.
Eco Logic: History of an “Outcome”
Assigning an outcome to any single grant, paper or person makes a mockery of the scientific process.
Eureka!: Catfish among the Pigeons
It might be time to add to the selection of bait and lures used to catch freshwater fish now that scientists have observed catfish hunting pigeons and tigerfish catching swallows.
Expert Opinion: Are Chemicals in Food Packaging a Health Risk?
Synthetic chemicals used in the packaging, storage and processing of foods might be harmful to human health because most of these substances are not inert and can leach into the foods we eat.
Expert Opinion: IPCC Report on Climate Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability
Australian, UK and NZ experts respond to the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's summary report for policy-makers.
Expert Opinion: IPCC Report on Climate Adaptation and Mitigation
Experts respond to the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Summary for Policymakers on “mitigating climate change, and the underlying technical, economic and institutional requirements”.
The Fit: Being Physically Active Became Twice as Hard
How much exercise do we need to remain healthy? A group of experts has now upped the ante dramatically.
Lowe Tech: Renewables Targeted
A review of Australia’s renewable energy target appears to have been established with a particular outcome in mind.
Naked Skeptic: The Best Research Money Can Buy
Why is Swisse funding research into the effectiveness of its vitamins when the TGA requires it to have such evidence prior to their listing?
Neuropsy: To Sleep, Perchance to Clean the Brain
The restorative function of a night’s sleep may result from elimination of the day’s neurotoxins.
Out of this World: Australians Discover the Oldest Star
Astronomers have discovered the oldest known star in the universe, and ice and water vapour have been detected on Ceres.
Publish or Perish: New books
Your guide to new books
Quandary: Brain Death Doubters
Recent cases show that doctors still do not agree about when death actually happens.
Simon Says: Two Drought Policies
How you cope with long dry spells depends a lot on your place in the evolutionary tree.
Up Close: Brains at risk: The curious link between strokes and Alzheimer’s disease
World authority on strokes and post-stroke care Prof Vladimir Hachinski discusses how strokes can amplify the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and vice versa, and how lifestyle factors can be protective against both.
Up Close: Prey for the oceans: How marine predators influence reef ecology
Marine biologist, Prof Robert Warner, discusses the relationship between marine predators and their prey. He also explains why marine environments may be more robust than terrestrial ecosystems in the face of human impacts.
Online Feature: Questions over effectiveness of flu drugs
Researchers call for guidance on use of Tamiflu in light of most recent evidence about efficacy and side-effects.
Online Feature: Ancient viruses sound scary, but there's no need to panic
Can ancient human viruses uncovered by drilling in permafrost cause a modern pandemic?
Online Feature: No evidence homeopathy is effective: NHMRC review
An NHMRC review concludes that there is no reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective.
Online Feature: IPCC: emissions cuts are about ethics as well as economics
The dramatic cuts in emissions needed to limit global warming to 2°C raise not just technical and economic challenges but also profound questions of ethics and values.
Online Feature: 'Censored' IPCC summary reveals jockeying for key UN climate talks
Was the IPCC's latest report on climate change censored to suit the agendas of different countries?