I’m just back from 10 days collecting ferns in the South Island’s West Coast.
From previous collections, we knew of several currently unrecognised species of fern that occur on the West Coast. We investigated these records, visiting the sites to collect more material for our studies and to assess the plants in the field, including gauging population sizes for conservation rankings. Most of the previous records were old and lacked detailed locality information. This meant they took a lot of re-finding, but we were successful in most cases.
Some of these poorly known ferns are uncommon. While we found some to be more widespread than previously thought, others appear to be teetering on the cusp between the Department of Conservation’s rankings of ‘At Risk’ and ‘Threatened’.
We also collected specimens of several ‘problem’ fern species, whose boundaries are unclear. They need further study, including with genetic analyses, which our new collections will facilitate.
Altogether, we collected about 170 specimens. These will begin to appear on Te Papa’s Collections Online in the next few weeks. However, there are some that we won’t be able to confidently identify without a lot more work.
With me were: Patrick Brownsey, Te Papa Research Fellow; Wendy Hogg, RSNZ Primary Science Teacher Fellow; and Mike Gemmell, VUW postgraduate student.
Other blog posts about our West Coast fern fieldwork cover: