255 – Science communication: The Matrix

Here is a wonderful example of how to communicate a fairly dry scientific concept in a way that is clear, engaging and entertaining.

It’s a video created by Don Driscoll, an ecologist from the Australian National University (and a co-member with me and others of the Environmental Decisions Group). The topic is “the matrix” – the areas that surround patches of remnant native vegetation. You mightn’t think this sounds like a promising way to spend four minutes of your time, but check it out. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Don’s done a wonderful job. He created it on his kitchen table at home over the course of a couple of weeks, to the consternation of his family! Because it’s an animation, it required a lot of painstaking work to put it together. Just as impressive, though, is the creativity that went into the story line and the script. If the topic was a bit more sexy, I reckon it would go viral. Look out Psy.

Watch it at YouTube here, or click below.


  • Thilak Mallawaarachchi
    17 September, 2013 - 6:56 am | link

    Hi David,

    I agree – it is clever, simple and effective. Having said that I do not agree with his assertion that adaptation will not be an answer. Then he points out to actions by governments, funding agencies and the like to address the problem.

    What is his definition of adaptation? Perhaps I should read the paper, which I will. But in my view, adaptation is the only solution and innovative presentations like these that bring together available and well-known knowledge to the attention of many will certainly help us adapt to more complex issues such as biodiversity.

    IMHO, in the end it is all about adaptation, and adaptation that takes account of temporal and spatial interactions rather than the ceteris paribus approach that our profession has subscribed to make complex issues looks simple.

    Thanks for bringing the article to wider circulation.



    • Denisse
      11 October, 2013 - 8:33 pm | link

      Adaptation is not a solution in rapid changing environments, or in the short-term for that matter, because adaptation takes time. Several generations must be borned and must receive those better adapted genes before it has some real impact in the overall population.

  • 17 September, 2013 - 8:04 am | link

    By the way, if you want to see the original paper (and your organisation subscribes to the journal), it is at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169534713001687

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