On This Programme


New Zealand's largest lizards are the highly endangered grand and Otago skinks. These impressive reptiles can grow up to 30 cm in length, and live for 40 years or more. They survive only in fragmented patches of their former range among the rocky outcroppings and tussock grasslands of Central Otago. James Reardon manages the Department of Conservation's Grand and Otago Skink Recovery Programme, which is using intensive mammal control in an effort to turn the skinks' decline around. Dacia Herbulock visited their isolated predator-proof fence at Macraes Flat to learn about how close the lizards are to the brink of extinction.

Otago skink basking on rock
Otago Skink - Photo credit: Department of Conservation

James Reardon sitting beside a rocky torGrand Skink

Grand Skink James Reardon

Last week saw the Greenhouse Gases and Animal Agriculture Conference come to Christchurch. It was the third in a series of conferences that started in 2001 where research scientists who are developing solutions for mitigating agricultural greenhouse gases gather to compare notes and talk shop. There were 235 participants from 27 countries with scientists ranging from microbiologists to genomists, geneticists, plant physiologists and engineers. Amelia Nurse spoke with Mark Aspin, manager of the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium and agricultural consultant Tony Rhodes of PGG Wrightson about the conference, what directions research is heading in and what this means for farmers in New Zealand.


Quantum physics is part of everyday life for researchers who work with ultra-cold atoms. They create experiments that enable them to glimpse first-hand the mysterious dual nature of matter - how it can behave as both a particle and a wave. At the heart of their investigations is the ability to cool atoms to incredibly low temperatures - a million times colder than anywhere else in the universe. Physicists Andrew Wilson and Rob Ballagh took Dacia Herbulock inside their lab at the University of Otago's Jack Dodd Centre to show her their work with Bose-Einstein condensates and explain what they're learning from this exotic state of matter.


What influence does the latest medical research have on the care you receive from your doctor? Australian-born Paul Glasziou is the Director of the Centre for Evidence-based Medicine at Oxford University. He's warning that much more needs to be done to translate good health research into medical practice. He told Louise Wallace that the sheer number of health research papers being published annually poses a major problem for clinicians.