Trophy hunting, Gene drives, Nuclear lightning, Peregrine falcons and drones
Trophy hunters are always after the lion with the largest darkest name and the stag with the most impressive antlers. Research by Rob Knell at Queen Mary University of London finds that removing a small proportion of these top males can drive whole populations to extinction, if their environment is changing.
Gene drive is a new genetic technology that could be used to eradicate populations of species of 'pest' animals. The Roslin Institute in Edinburgh has just announced it is to begin research on gene drives to control rat and mouse populations. The Institute's Bruce Whitelaw and Simon Lillico explain how the approach would work and argue that it would be humane compared to traditional methods of vermin control. However there are concerns about its potential ecological consequences - namely the risk of female infertility in the targeted species spreading without no geographical limits. Kevin Esvelt of MIT voices his reservations. Bruce Whitelaw outlines how future research aims to bring gene drives under more control.
Researchers in the USA and Japan talk about their discovery of nuclear reactions in lightning strikes, and Caroline Brighton and Graham Taylor of the University of Oxford explain why they have been attaching small cameras and GPS units to peregrine falcons and recording the birds chasing drones.