Episode 106: Irish Cave Bones with Ruth Carden

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Regular listeners have already heard that this episode was coming. And we’ve been planning it for a long time. Conflicting schedules, travel plans and life, in general, were always getting in the way. But boy, was it worth waiting for! 

And so, we sat down for a chat with Dr Ruth Carden, a zoologist, who specialises in the zooarchaeological analysis of faunal assemblages. To the casual reader, Ruth is probably best known for her groundbreaking discovery of butchering marks on a reindeer bone found in the Castlepook Cave in north Cork. This discovery dramatically changed our understanding of Irish human history, pushing back the earliest signs of human activity by 20,000 years. 

We discussed this discovery as well as other topics related to Ruth’s research, including Irish glacial fauna with a particular focus on the Giant Irish Deer which is sometimes, incorrectly, called Irish elk. I wouldn’t be myself if I hadn’t asked Ruth about wild boar in Ireland. Were they native to Ireland at one point in time? You need to listen to this episode to find out.

And here is the craziest thing. All that research work is self-funded by Ruth and done largely in her spare time. Please, keep an eye on Tommy’s Outdoors website as we will shortly let you know how you can financially support Ruth’s efforts. For now, I want to give a massive shout out to the car company that co-sponsored one of those projects: K&N Motors, Dublin 22. A big round of applause for these folks, please!

Episode 103: Hunter-Gatherers with Graeme Warren

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The term hunter-gatherers is often understood as a description of primitive people who live in an idyllic state of harmony with nature. In reality however, the lifestyle of hunter-gatherers is way more complex than most of us think.

To shed some light on this fascinating subject and to clarify some misconceptions I bring you my conversation with prof. Graeme Warren of the University College Dublin, School of Archaeology. Graeme is a specialist in the Archaeology of Hunter-Gatherers, the leader of the UCD Hunter-Gatherer Research Group and a Vice-President of the International Society for Hunter-Gatherer Research.

During our conversation, we touched on many interesting topics. The impact of hunter-gatherers on their environment, modern-day hunter-gatherers, political implications of archaeology and many more.  We also touched on the often discussed topic of wild boar in Ireland.

Finally, if you want to delve deeper into the topic of hunter-gatherers you should check the website for the upcoming Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies (CHAGS13) by going to www.ucd.ie/chags13


For more on hunter-gatherers, follow Graeme on Twitter @GraemeMWarren; the UCD Hunter-Gatherer Research Group @HunterUCD; the Thirteenth International Conference on Hunter-Gatherers Societies @CHAGS131; and the International Society for Hunter-Gatherer Research @ISHGR5.

Episode 97: Human-Wildlife Conflict with Amy Dickman

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Dr Amy Dickman needs no introduction. She is well known and hugely respected in both academic and conservation communities. She’s a conservation biologist and works on resolving human-wildlife conflict on human-dominated landscapes. Amy is a Kaplan Senior Research Fellow in Wild Cat Conservation under Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit. She is also the founder of The Ruaha Carnivore Project where she works closely with local communities to mitigate the conflict.

During our chat, we explore the difficult topic of human-wildlife conflict and some of the related ethical and scientific issues. As it turns out, not everything is clear-cut and some questions are difficult to answer. If you are interested in wildlife conservation you will find this fast-paced episode fascinating. And as a result, you might find yourself questioning your own opinions.

Episode 87: Irish Whale and Dolphin Group with Pádraig Whooley

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I have wanted to record an episode about the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) and their work for quite a while now. Their excellent website, with a database where you can report sightings and strandings, was even mentioned in one of my vlogs. So today, it is my pleasure to bring you my conversation with IWDG’s Sightings Officer Pádraig Whooley.

We started with discussing at length IWDG origins and their current work. After that, we dug deep into a whole host of interesting topics related to cetaceans, starting with a discussion about cetacean species that can be observed and encountered in our local waters. That conversation included some interesting facts about how to behave in the presence of a whale and about the rules and regulations around it. We discussed whale watching techniques and the required equipment. We also talked about the unpleasant issue of whale strandings. And of course, I did not forget to discuss cetacean evolution, a personal favourite of mine.

This is an amazing episode and if you have any level of interest in whales or dolphins you will, without a doubt, find it deeply interesting.

Episode 54: The National Biodiversity Data Centre with Dave Wall

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Many of us outdoors people like to keep records of the animal and fish species we have encountered, caught or seen during our time in the outdoors. To keep those records we use spreadsheets, databases, dedicated apps and, perhaps, a pen and paper if you’re a little old-timey chap. As it turns out, there is a website that can not only help you record and explore your sightings but also include your data in the national dataset that is used by scientists. This website is operated by The National Biodiversity Data Centre and, in this episode of the podcast, our guest is their Citizen Science Officer, Dave Wall.