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Joining Derek and team check out: Plant blindness: when you can't see the wood for the trees, Ireland's first dedicated bat hospital, warm blooded fish and are sharks really evolving to walk on dry land?
Plant blindness: when you can't see the wood for the trees
How many different kinds of native Irish flower can you identify? It seems that the average person in Ireland can only name between three and six, whereas they tend to be considerably better at recognising our common mammals and birds. For many of us, plants blend into the background and almost become invisible. We simply don't notice them to the same extent that we do animals, and indeed many inanimate objects: a phenomenon known as "plant blindness".
Dr Karen L. Bacon, Lecturer in Plant Ecology, NUI Galway, Ireland
According to Dr. Karen L. Bacon, Lecturer in Plant Ecology at NUI Galway, this is a serious problem. On this week’s programme, she tells us why plant blindness has become a significant barrier to conservation, and why our subconscious cognitive bias against plants makes us more likely to undervalue them and therefore fail to protect them. There are other concerns too: for example, would you know if a particular plant was poisonous or not?
Introducing Ireland's first dedicated bat hospital
All too often misunderstood and even feared, bats are a vital part of the Irish ecosystem, and they are more vulnerable and sensitive than you might expect. Wildlife rehabilitators have noticed a significant increase in sick and injured bats in need of care, but it has often been difficult to provide the highly specialised treatment that these small flying mammals require.
A Common pipistrelle - Photo Getty
In an effort to address this growing problem, animal-lover Susan Kerwin founded Bat Rehabilitation Ireland and has opened the country's first dedicated bat hospital in Bruree, Co. Limerick . . . in her back garden, no less. On this weeks’ programme, our roving reporter Terry Flanagan visits Susan and talks to her about her work to help bats and her plans for the future of her bat hospital.
Susan Kerwan (founder of the Hospital) - Photo by Terry Flanagan
For more information about Bat Rehabilitation Ireland and its work Click Here
Landsharks: are the ocean's top predators really evolving to walk on dry land?
For hundreds of millions of years, sharks have roamed our planet's oceans, supremely adapted to life as aquatic predators. We’ve all seen the nature documentary footage of sharks speeding through the water in relentless pursuit of their prey or even leaping clear of the surface, but did you know that sharks can walk? Using their fins, some shark species regularly pace across the seabed, and even on top of coral reefs at low tide.
Some sharks on the seabed
Recently, however, some sharks have been recorded going even further, actually walking on their fins onto beaches or up jetty steps to avail of food. Are we witnessing a new evolutionary departure for sharks and should we be worried about coming face to face with a "landshark", or should this theory be, well, blown out of the water?
On this week’s programme, Ken Whelan, our own resident expert in all things aquatic, investigates.
It would make your blood run . . . warm?
Sticking with fishy stories, did you know that some fish are warm-blooded? Unlike mammals and birds, the vast majority of fish are cold-blooded, meaning that their body temperature depends on the ambient temperature of the water around them. This means that these fish don't need to expend energy regulating their body heat, allowing them to go longer without food and to maintain a slower metabolic rate.
We currently know of at least 35 fish species that are warm-blooded, however, bucking the general piscine trend. But why? They must expend far more energy than other fish species, but the ability to maintain a body temperature higher than that of the water surrounding them must confer some advantages. Does it allow them to swim faster, or perhaps to live in a wider range of oceanic zones, including cold regions that would be completely off limits to tropical fish species?
Lucy Harding, PhD Candidate at the Dept of Zoology at TCD
On this week's programme Lucy Harding, a PhD candidate at the Department of Zoology in Trinity College Dublin, speaks to our panel about the curious biology of warm-blooded fish and the possible advantages they have over their cold-blooded cousins.
Extra! Extra! Read all about it!
We are delighted that our very own Éanna Ní Lamhna has recently taken over the popular Eye on Nature questions and answers column, published each Saturday in the Irish Times. On this week's programme, she tells us more about this exciting development and tells us about the reader in Sandymount who discovered a glorious pyramidal orchid in her suburban Dublin garden. Just what is it doing there?
Éanna Ní Lamhna
Of course, Éanna is not the only Mooney Goes Wild panellist to write for a national newspaper. For many years now, Dr Richard Collins has penned a weekly natural history column for the Irish Examiner, and this week he fills us in on his latest opus, all about the ageing process. Life is too short!
Richard Collins and Ken Whelan