Weeks 3 + 4 of the big year

Ok, so it turns out birding is hard. I mean you walk down the street and think there are birds literally everywhere, but until you start trying to count them you dont realise that they are just the same 6 birds. I only managed to add another 14 species in these two weeks, despite visiting the Bellbird bushland, west of Brisbane, and the Kendron Wetlands near the airport, bringing me to a meagre 59 species. Maybe i just suck since my dad seems to be doing quite well on his big year, and even my honours student Jordan, who only started two weeks ago is up to 45 species. Not good enough. Striated heron Toowong 3 Fig bird Toowong 3 brahminy kite North Pine river 3 Black face cuckcoo shrike Kawana 3 Long billed corella Bellbird 3 Rufus Fantail Bellbird 3 Grey butcherbird Bellbird 3 Spotted turtle dove lake kawana 3 Bush stone curlew UQ 3 pied stilt Kedron Brook Wetlands 4 chestnut teal duck Kedron Brook Wetlands 4 white bellied sea eagle Kedron Brook Wetlands 4 tawny gras

Week 1 + 2 of the big year

The big year has begun This year i have decided to attempt the infamous big year, inspired partly by the awesome Owen Wilson / Jack Black / Steve Martin movie, but mostly as a really good excuse to get out and see some new places. With our push into robotics the amount of field work we get to do has been less than would be ideal, for a biologist like myself whose main training has been out in the field. But the year started with a bang. With the Help of Taylor Dick (UQ) I managed to see 50 species in the first two weeks. Week 1 was helped by a trip to Oxley Common. Taylor and I were crook from a flu we had picked up in the cold wasteland that is canada (no offence canadians). I was feeling so weak that i didn't bother bring along the DSLR camera to get any good photos. Could barely carry the bird field guide. BUt lucky we did. The highlights were the red-backed fairy wren, and the superb fairy wren. number name site week 92 pelican Strathpine 1 323 Crested pigeon Oxley

2020 is going to be awesome!

Well 2020 is finally here. My plan for this year is to start posting more. Looks like i haven't posted much for the last two year. Not for lack of will, but rather a complete lack of time. However this year i am going to assign a higher priority to posting more, it it becomes more of a habit. 2019 was a great year. The Clemente biorobotics and biomechanics lab exploded in size and we saw lots of new members joining. We moved into a new room, and now have an extensive system of rapid prototying, laser cutting and more. We have pushed into the field of machine learning, both in our work on animal movement using accelerometers but also into machine vision markerless motion capture, mostly thanks to the hard work of Jojo Schultz. We only got out five papers, i hope we can do better this year. Brunton, E.A., Clemente, C.J. and Burnett, S.E., 2019. Not all urban landscapes are the same: interactions between urban land use and stress in a large herbivorous mammal. Ecological

Jumping insects - Honours project

I have recently published some work on insect jumping here But what i really wanted to look at was the association between either insect jumping speed / acceleration with limb length. But also insect jumping ability with adhesive pads, as i suspect that long legs in insects are less for allowing them to jump faster, but rather for allowing them to jump from smooth surfaces without slipping. Although, they do look hilarious when they slip. I want to do this by comparing take off velocity and acceleration in a whole pile of crickets that we find around campus.

insect clinging - honours project

Insects are very good at clinging to surfaces using their claws. However, this might start becoming a problem as they get bigger. That's because to stick to things with claws they need very fine, sharp claws. But we know from our scaling lectures that as things get bigger the diameter of things is also expected to increase. So how do they do it? Does claw morphology change with size, or do larger bugs simply stick less well? To answer this we will need a combination of SEM images of insect claws, and some performance estimates of insect sticking ability, probably using something like an insect centrifuge. We currently have a whole stack of rhino beetle grubs which would be great for this project, and are due to hatch out this summer. Keen to try your luck at making one? Blue print below ;)

Are water dragons really water dragons? - Honours project

I have been wondering about this for some time. Often i will come across water dragons in places where there is no water (e.g. Alexander headland) and other times i come across a nice body of water, but never see any water dragons. (think about all the small lakes on campus). I want to use GIS style mapping in R or other wise to overlay the distribution of water dragons with surface features. The comparison i want to make, is a water dragons preferring habitats on the edge of water bodies, or are water dragons just preferring areas of a steep slope (which just happen to be associated with water bodies, or both?

Lizard hurdles - Honours project

So i have been working on lizards running on two or four legs for some time now, Check this out. I think it tends to be related to the ability of lizards to raise their body centre of mass to get over obstacles. Are bipedal lizards better able to do this? I have collected a stack of data on this, but it needs to be analysed, and maybe to collect more data where parts are missing. The eventual goal is to combine this with data from robots running on two and four legs over obstacles. These robots are currently being constructed by the engineering honours students here at USC. So get on board if lizards are your thing.