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2 December 2005

Friday review - Species

On Friday's English Bites this series, we're going to have a review. We'll take a look back over the week, and talk in more detail about some of the language points we've discussed.

Today we're going to look at words relating to different types of plant and animal species.

We'll start by listening to a reporter talk about the problems of cane toads.

It's 70 years since cane toads were introduced to Australia, from South America.

Northern quolls, snakes and goannas have already fallen victim to the toads' toxin.

And there are grave concerns for Darwin's frill-necked lizard population.

Despite their devastating impact, and rapid migration across the continent, little has been done to stop their spread until now.

Other governments are also starting to take action, with significant recent investments in biological controls and gene technology.

But scientists believe any form of biological control is at least a decade away.
So in the meantime traps are the only form of defence.

Cane toads are introduced species. They're considered pests because they are poisonous. They can kill native animals that try to eat them.

A species is type of plant or animal. Members of a species are all very similar.

An introduced species is a type of animal or plant brought into a place from somewhere else.

A native species is a type of animal or plant that exists naturally in a place.

Cane toads are from South America. They are introduced into Australia.

Quolls, goannas and frill-necked lizards are native species - they are specifically Australian animals.

Scientists are worried that the very poisonous cane toads will kill many native animals.

OK, so they are some important words and ideas from the story about cane toads.

Now let's watch a clip from Tuesday's story about a global seed bank.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: This is one of the easier days at the office for seed collector Micah Visoiu. His target is within arm's reach.

MICAH VISOIU, TASMANIAN NATURE CONSERVATION BRANCH: We've been collecting some Allocasuarina. That's a pretty easy one to collect because it's got fairly large sort of cone-type structures that it keeps its seeds in.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: Seeds and samples from more than half the native flora of Tasmania are being rounded up as part of the island state's deposit into a visionary global seed bank.

MICAH VISOIU: Over the course of the project we're aiming to collect between 800 and 1,000 species. Each of those collections is, ultimately we will collect 20,000 from each species, but that's going to be impossible for a lot of different species.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: Saving species from extinction is the motivation for the painstaking, often tedious seed harvesting now under way in every state of Australia and also in the drylands of at least 20 other countries around the world. It's a crusade led by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in the UK. By 2010, it wants 24,000 species locked up in safekeeping here at West Sussex.

We saw someone collecting Allocasuarina seeds.

We heard that seeds from more than half the native flora of Tasmania are collected and put into a seed bank, a collection of seeds from all over the world. It's designed to stop species from extinction.

'Extinction' refers to the state of no longer existing.

When a species becomes extinct, it has died out, there are no members of that type of plant or animal left.

The seed bank project is trying to stop plants becoming extinct in the future.

So Tasmania's native flora is being collected.

'Flora' are plants of a particular region or period.

The word flora often occurs in the phrase 'flora and fauna'.

'Fauna' are the animals of a particular region or period.

Flora and Fauna were both ancient Roman goddesses. Flora was the goddess of flowers, gardens and love. Fauna was a goddess of fertility, nature and animals.

So the seed bank is trying to save flora from extinction.

Now let's watch another clip from that story.

DAVID COATES: Ultimately, of course, this material - although it will be stored for perhaps a long period of time - will be placed back either for reintroductions of some of the rare and threatened species or it'll be used in revegetation programs.

He says the seeds will be stored and then placed back for reintroduction of rare and threatened species, or used for revegetation programs.

Rare and threatened species are animals that might become extinct soon.

They will use the seeds to bring back whole species that are dying out.

Or they'll use them for revegetation programs.

'Vegetation' is another name for flora, or all the plants growing in a certain area.

'Revegetation' refers to the process of planting new plants in an area, usually where the existing flora has been damaged or destroyed.

OK so that's a story about people wanting to save plant species that are in danger. We also saw a story this week about people trying to kill off a species. Listen for the species' name.

MELINDA JAMES: This is Aedes aegypti or the dengue mosquito.

The Northern Territory has been dengue-free since the 1950s but in February last year, routine trapping found the species in Tennant Creek.

Peter Whelan is a medical entomologist and in charge of the dengue mosquito eradication project.

PETER WHELAN: was quite an unexpected thing to find Aedes aegypti here in Tennant Creek.

How are we going with the storm water drains?

MELINDA JAMES: Once a month Peter Whelan travels to Tennant Creek from Darwin to check the progress of the eradication plan.

These men have been working full-time for nearly nine months to rid the town of Aedes aegypti and the threat of dengue disease by spraying insecticide wherever water can collect.

PETER WHELAN: The eradication program is aiming to detect and stamp out every single Aedes aegypti that will be in this place.

The story is about the dengue mosquito, the mosquito that carries dengue fever.

It's also called Aedes aegypti.

That's its scientific name. The first name is the genus, of the general type of plant or animal.

The second name is the species name.

All plants and animals have a scientific name like this. They are always written in italics, and the second name, or species name, has a small letter.

A cane toad is called a 'Bufo marinus'.

A frill neck lizard is a Chlamydosaurus kingii.

We also heard about the Allocasuarina tree today, a native Australian tree.

Allocasuarina is actually the genus name. It's commonly called the she oak. There are many different species of Allocasuarina, for example

The science of classifying plants and animals is called taxonomy.

Look at the spotlight for this episode and you'll find information about taxonomy, genus and species.

And that's all for our English Bites review for this week. If you missed any of this week's stories you can find them all here:

Cane Toad Trap
Seed Bank
Dengue Mosquitoes
Wildlife Centre

story notes

cane toads
This is a cane toad. Their scientific name is Bufo marinus.

northern quolls
One of four species of quoll in Australia, this carnivorous marsupial has the scientific name Dasyurus hallucattus.

Goannas are large monitor lizards.

fallen victim to the toads' toxin
This means that they been killed by eating the poisnous toads. A toxin is a poison. Notice that the possessive apsotrophe is used after the 's' (toads') because more than one toad is being referred to.
more information: possessive apostrophe

frill-necked lizard
The official name of this spectacular lizard is Chlamydosaurus kingii.

Done is the past participle of the irregular verb do. Follow the link to find out more and to listen to examples.

biological controls
A biological control is a type of animal or diesease brought in to kill plants or animals that have become pests.

gene technology
Gene technology is a way of controlling the numbers of pests by altering their genes.

Allocasurina is the official genus name for a number of species of trees with needle-like leaves and small cones that are commonly called she-oaks.

rounded up
To round up means to find and group together.

Example: We should round up all of the rabbits in the park.
For more meanings of the phrasal verb round up, follow the link.
more information: round up

island state
The island state is an informal name for Tasmania because itís the only state of Australia that is an island.

We're is the contracted form of we are. Be careful not to confuse this with the word pronounced the same way, where. Follow the link to find out more.
more information: where & we're

If something is painstaking, it must be done very carefully and with a lot of effort. Itís not a quick or easy task.

If something is tedious it is slow and boring.


under way
Something that is under way has started.

Example: The game was already under way when we arrived at the stadium.
Click here for more idioms and common expressions.

Reintroduction means to the process of introducing again. In this case, it means to return members of a species into an area where the species used to live.
Notice that the re- prefix is used to mean again.
more information: re- prefix

rare and threatened species
A rare and threatened species is a type of plant or animal that is not common. For more about the categories used to describe how close to extinction an organism is, follow the link.
more information:

Aedes aegypti or the dengue mosquito
This is Aedes aegypti or the dengue mosquito. Notice that its scientific name has a capital for the genus (first) name and not for the species (second) name.

To be dengue -free is to be without the disease dengue or the mosquitoes that spread it.

Tennant Creek
Tennant Creek is a town in the Northern Terrritory.

An entomologist studies insects.

in charge
To be in charge is to have control or command or something.

Example: The teacher is in charge of the classroom.
Click here for more idioms and common expressions.

To eradicate means to completely destroy. Eradication refers to the act of getting rid of something completely.

An insecticide is a chemical used to kill insects.


stamp out
To stamp out means to get rid of something completely.

Example: The police are going to try to stamp out crime in this area.
For examples you can listen to and more meanings of the phrasal verb stamp out, follow the link.
more information: stamp out