Posts categorized as Biodiversity

New Zealand’s weirdest mosquitoes: The impatient males

The fore tarsal claw of the adult male mosquito to grab onto the female pupa. Credit: Julia Kasper

Curator Terrestrial Invertebrates Julia Kasper looks at the reproductive lives of our local mosquitoes. The salt pool mosquito (Opifex fuscus) can just be found in New Zealand and it is our only rock pool mosquito. From an evolutionary perspective they show quite ancient mosquito characteristics. They look stout, have a short proboscis (snout), and short… Read more »

Hit rate high in high-country forget-me-not search

  • Ant and Zuri have found the perfect spot to make some research collections for the museum, near Rainbow ski field, January 2017. Photo by Jessie Prebble.
  • 20170124_095127
  • Botany girl power! Zuri, Jessie and Heidi searching for Myosotis laeta in the Red Hills, January 2017. Photo by Ant Kusabs @ Te Papa (SP105625).
  • Ant finding yet another plant to add to the collection at Te Papa, Rainbow Ski Field, January 2017. Photo by Heidi Meudt @ Te Papa.

Field work is a key part of scientific research at Te Papa. Each year, Research Scientist Heidi Meudt spends about three weeks in the field collecting specimens for her taxonomic research on native New Zealand forget-me-nots (Myosotis). In January 2017, she travelled to three main areas in northern South Island (Cobb Valley, Mt Owen and ranges around… Read more »

Election 2017: Voting for the environment

This watercolour by Fanny Osborne of Adam’s mistletoe reminds us of its beauty.  At the time, it was known as Loranthus adamsii. It became extinct in the 1950s, probably because of forest clearance and possum browsing along with loss of pollinators and dispersers caused by introduced animals. Image copyright Auckland Museum; reproduced courtesy of Auckland Museum.

This is a series on five major election issues seen through the eyes of the national museum. In the lead-up to the 2017 General Election, we have linked each of these issues to an object, or a programme, run by Te Papa. In this post, Curator Botany Leon Perrie writes about the Environment. Some commentators… Read more »

Myosotis hunting in the deep south

  • Here I am making a research collection of Myosotis rakiura for the museum from Curio Bay, December 2016 (SP105593). Photo by John Barkla.
  • A little mud won't stop us finding the forget-me-nots... Although it might slow us down a bit. Here I am up to my knees in mud on the way to Doughboy Hut, Stewart Island! December 2016. Photo by John Barkla.
  • John and Mathew tramping between Mason Bay and Doughboy Bay on Stewart Island. We had to be completely self-sufficient on this part of the trip, each carrying about 15kg of food, clothing and botany collecting gear on our backs, and staying in DOC huts. December 2016. Photo by Heidi Meudt @ Te Papa.
  • A small clump of Myosotis rakiura plants on Solander Island, July 2017. Photo by Tim Poupard.

Field work is a key part of scientific research at Te Papa. Each year, Research Scientist Heidi Meudt spends about three weeks in the field collecting specimens for her taxonomic research on native New Zealand Myosotis. In December 2016, she recently traveled to the southern South Island and Stewart Island together with Collection Manager Ant Kusabs to hunt… Read more »

Kōwhai seeds on Kermadec and Chatham Islands’ beaches

The bight yellow seeds of kōwhai are a familiar sight on New Zealand beaches.

Plants have many ways to disperse their seeds to a suitable spot where they can germinate. Kōwhai trees have bright yellow seeds that have the amazing ability to float on water, including across oceans. Experiments have shown that kōwhai seeds can remain afloat in seawater for years and still germinate. Recent research led by scientist Lara… Read more »

The distribution of kōwhai and its close relatives throughout the Southern Hemisphere has intrigued scientists, including Charles Darwin, for over 150 years. Recent research led by Lara Shepherd has revealed more about the relationships among this iconic group of plants. Sophora sect. Edwardsia is a group of 19 species of small trees or shrubs mostly… Read more »

At Te Papa we’re constantly photographing our collection items – whether that be art works, historical objects, or scientific specimens.  Recently, our imaging specialist Jean-Claude Stahl has taken pictures of some bizarre creatures – water bears, also known as tardigrades. Here, Jean-Claude explains why photographing a water bear is such a ‘bugbear’ and bug expert Phil Sirvid fills us in… Read more »

In photos: Giant eggs, tiny eggs, and the eggceptionally rare

  • Eggstremes. South Island giant moa and rifleman eggs to the same scale. Specimens ME.012749 and OR.007264 (latter collected by Captain John Bollons at Akaroa, date unknown). Photogtaph by Jean-Claude Stahl. Te Papa
  • Laughing owl egg (44.2 mm x 39.5 mm). Locality and date unknown. Specimen OR.030062. Photograph by Jean-Claude Stahl. Te Papa
  • New Zealand dotterel clutch, Maketu Spit, Bay of Plenty, October 2011. Specimen OR.029416, eggs approx. 45 mm x 32 mm. Photograph by Jean-Claude Stahl. Te Papa
  • South Island kokako egg (42.0 mm x 27.4 mm), Hokitika, date unknown. Specimen OR.007626. Photograph by Jean-Claude Stahl. Te Papa

Bird expert Colin Miskelly highlights some of the treasures in our egg collection, including those thought to be held only by Te Papa – as well as giant moa eggs, tiny rifleman eggs, and eggs that were acquired during dramatic events in New Zealand’s conservation history. Digitising our egg collection Most of the bird eggs held… Read more »

Myrtle rust: why local New Zealand species are under threat

Myrtle rust is characterised by yellow pustules. Photo by Scot Nelson.

Sadly, the discovery of more sites in New Zealand infected with myrtle rust suggests that it is here to stay. Originally from South America, myrtle rust invaded Australia in 2010 and rapidly spread.  Botanist Lara Shepherd discusses what Australian scientists have discovered about myrtle rust over the last seven years. What does myrtle rust infect?… Read more »