Our Changing World for Thursday 12 July 2007
This week's programme
The Antarctic coast of the Ross Sea region is home to more than five million Adelie penguins.
They arrive at their colonies in late October ready to start breeding and to raise their chicks before the end of the short Antarctic summer - in synchrony with the freezing and thawing cycle of the sea ice that surrounds the frozen continent.
Each summer, the penguin colony at Cape Byrd is visited by Landcare Research zoologist Kerry Barton, who's been monitoring population dynamics over successive breeding seasons.
Veronika Meduna caught up with her at last week's conference to mark 50 years of Antarctic research.
Each year in Cook Strait former whalers join forces with the Department of Conservation to conduct a two-week survey into the status and level of recovery of New Zealand's whale population. New Zealand ceased commercial whaling in the early 1960's, and ever since the annual survey began in 2004, the Cook Strait observation site has proved to be ideal for assessing the herds of whales breeding and passing through on their migratory pathway to the south. Justin Gregory joins the watchers and gets up close and personal with the biggest animals on Earth.
In recognition of her leading-edge research into the development of more effective ways to protect future generations of New Zealanders from Tuberculosis (Tb), Malaghan Institute PhD student Ms Kylie Quinn, has been awarded the Todd Foundation Award for Excellence by the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors' Committee.
Coming up in our next programme
Huntington's disease is a fatal brain disorder caused by a single genetic mutation, which results in major disruption of normal movement, memory, thought processes and emotions. A research team at Australia's Howard Florey Institute, lead by Anthony Hannan, has found that a stimulating environment can significantly delay the onset and progression of the disease, at least in mice with the same gene defect. Based on that discovery, the team is now testing a combination of environmental stimuli and drugs in the hope of developing a treatment for the condition.
The much-discussed "man drought" in New Zealand may have some basis in statistical fact. A recent population estimate and projection released by Statistics New Zealand suggests that yes, it may be harder for women to meet partners of the opposite sex because of an imbalance in gender numbers, but in some age groups and areas, it's even harder for men. The figures inside the estimate are based upon the most recent census, and make for interesting reading with their implications for our future social makeup, but they also ask an important question - where have all the men gone? Justin Gregory met up with statistician Denise McGregor and social researcher Paul Callister to talk about man droughts, babe bonanzas and other demographic mysteries. But first, he takes the pulse of the street and asks women whether there really is a man drought.
'Polyculture' is a new type of aquaculture being trialed by a group of Maori land owners at Hongoeka Bay, in partnership with researchers from NIWA. It brings together multiple economically valuable species in a single, simplified 'ecosystem' to make the aquaculture project more sustainable. At Hongoeka, they are using karengo (an edible seaweed) to clean the waste water from paua raised in tanks. Dacia Herbulock went to see the project's launch.
Associate Professor Tony Kettle is part of the Free Radical Research Group at the University of Otago Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences. He is investigating how white blood cells kill bacteria by creating a form of chlorine bleach inside our bodies.