The Blue Mountains Water Skink


The endangered Blue Mountains Water Skink, Eulamprus leuraensis (photo: “Sarshag7”)

I have previously mentioned my interest in ecological niche modelling and amphibians. The cute little skink above, native to the Blue Mountains near Sydney, is sadly endangered. The black circles in the map below show online occurrence records for the skink. These range in altitude from approximately 530 to 1,170 m.

The blue area shows a predicted potential range for the species, based on MaxEnt modelling using those occurrence records and BioClim climate data. The model does not take into account the skink’s need for sedge and shrub swamps with permanently wet boggy soils – there are readily available online land cover datasets, but these have insufficient spatial resolution to identify the 30 or so swamps in which the skink is found. The predicted potential range for the skink is consequently very much exaggerated, and covers 1,320 sq km, of which 63% falls within national parks or other protected areas. Hopefully that is enough to stop this beautiful amphibian from becoming extinct, although it continues to face threats from urban sprawl, feral cats, and vegetation changes.


Sasol Solar Challenge Update #2

Here are the 14 solar car teams that will be competing in the Sasol Solar Challenge in South Africa this year, with clickable social media links. The event will run from September 24 to October 2 (thus overlapping with the ESC), with scrutineering beginning on September 20. The Sasol Solar Challenge has a very poor internet presence, and Google has been reporting their website as hacked, but you can presumably follow the race on Facebook and on Twitter.

TR  Anadolu Solar Team 

This team came 19th in the Challenger class at WSC 2015. They are one of 12 entries in the Challenger class for this race.

ZA  German School in Johannesburg (DSJ) 

This is a local team. They are one of 12 entries in the Challenger class for this race.

HU  Kecskemét College GAMF (Megalux) 

This team came 7th in the Challenger class at WSC 2015. They are one of 12 entries in the Challenger class for this race.

PL  Lodz Solar Team 

This team competed in the Cruiser class at WSC 2015. They are the only entry in the Cruiser class for this race.

ZA  Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) Solar Team

This is a local team. They are one of 12 entries in the Challenger class for this race.

ZA  Maragon Solar Eagles

This is a local team. They are one of 12 entries in the Challenger class for this race.

Near East University Solar Car Team

This team is one of 12 entries in the Challenger class for this race.

ZA  North West University 

This team came 11th in the Challenger class at WSC 2015. This is a local team. They are one of 12 entries in the Challenger class for this race.

NL  Nuon Solar Team 

This team came 1st in the Challenger class at WSC 2015. They are one of 12 entries in the Challenger class for this race.

ZA  PI 21 Solar Team

This is a local team. They are one of 12 entries in the Challenger class for this race.

JP  Tokai University 

This team came 7th in the 2015 Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge, and 3rd in the Challenger class at WSC 2015. They are one of 12 entries in the Challenger class for this race.

ZA  Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) Solar Car 

This is a local team. They are one of 12 entries in the Challenger class for this race.

ZA  UJ Solar Car 

This is a local team. They are one of 12 entries in the Challenger class for this race.

ZA  ZingCO Electric Vehicle

This is a local team. They are the only entry in the Sustainability class for this race.

This post last updated 18:01 on 26 August 2016 AEST


Social media around the world

Sticking with the social media theme of my last post, here is a nice pair of maps by social media guru Vincenzo Cosenza of the most popular and 2nd most popular social media platform by country:


For much of the world, including Australia and the USA, it’s Facebook followed by Instagram (although the Sensis Social Media Report suggested that LinkedIn actually comes second in Australia). China has Qzone on top, while VK and Odnoklassniki are big in the former USSR, and Facenama is big in Iran. Orkut, once hugely popular in some countries, has of course been closed down.


Social media in Australia

I have just been reading the 2015 Sensis Social Media Report, which contains all kinds of interesting facts. For example, out of Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Tumblr, Facebook is the most heavily used. Also, the cliche “Men are from Mars, women are on Pinterest” turns out to actually be true:

Other data shows that Facebook usage is trending slightly downwards over time, while use of LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google+ is increasing. After rising up to 2014, Twitter usage is also down. Consistent with this, many Twitter users report deleting their profile. To a lesser extent, Facebook and Snapchat users also report this.

Data on age shows that under-30s are particularly active on Instagram and Snapchat:

Bar charts were produced using R. Read the report for more details.

Update: For comparison, here are corresponding charts for the USA:

Data for these second two charts is from a report by Pew Research.


National Science Week 2016

National Science Week is here again in Australia. See the website for events during the week. You can also read a science book or visit a museum. Even if you’re not in Australia, there’s the chance to get involved in a citizen science project to identify wildlife in photographs. So why not take part?

European Solar Challenge 2016

Here are the 12 solar car teams that will be competing in the European Solar Challenge this year, with links to their websites and social media. The ESC will be held at Circuit Zolder in Belgium from September 23 to 25 this year. It will be a 24 hour endurance track race, competing against a (non-solar) Tesla Model S. Follow the race on Facebook and Twitter.


Circuit Zolder in 2009 (photo: JNas)

DE  Bochum University of Applied Sciences 

This team came 3rd in the Cruiser class at WSC 2015. Bochum are fielding three teams at ESC.

GB  Cambridge University 

This team came 22nd in the Challenger class at WSC 2015.

TR  Dokuz Eylül University / Solaris 

This team came 25th in the Challenger class at WSC 2015.

CO  EAFIT / Cambria 

This team came 9th in the Challenger class at WSC 2015.

IT  Futuro Solare 

This appears to be a relatively new team. Read more about them here.

TR  Istanbul Technical University 

This team came 17th in the Challenger class at WSC 2013.

IT  Onda Solare 

This team came 10th in the Challenger class at WSC 2013, and 10th in the 2015 Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge.

BE  Punch Powertrain Solar Team 

This team came 3rd in the 2015 Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge, and 5th in the Challenger class at WSC 2015.

CH  Solar Energy Racers 

This team came 5th in the Challenger class at WSC 2013, and 11th in the 2015 Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge.

NL  Solar Team Twente 

This team came 2nd in the Challenger class at WSC 2015.

This post last updated 19:17 on 26 August 2016 AEST