Posts categorized as Biodiversity

A Collection of Beach-Loving Beetles

The L.H. McDowall collection of sand scrabs.
Photo credit: Phil Sirvid, Te Papa.

Te Papa’s entomology collection is now home to 66 native sand scarab beetles (Pericoptus sp.) from the estate of L.H. McDowall. In the 1960s, McDowall illustrated insect guide books such as ‘Native Beetles’ and ‘Native and Introduced Butterflies and Moths’. A collection of her original illustrations was also recently acquired by Te Papa. The beetles… Read more »

A new tree fern

The newly recognised Dicksonia lanata subsp. hispida. Fairly common in the northern North Island, usually in kauri forests. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

New Zealand has a new tree fern – kind of. Te Papa Research Fellow Patrick Brownsey and I have recently recognised a subspecies within the stumpy tree fern, tuokura, Dicksonia lanata.  The new name is Dicksonia lanata subspecies hispida.  It is only kind of a new tree fern, as it was first recognised as something different… Read more »

Help hunt for kakabeak

Kakabeak (kowhai ngutu-kākā, Clianthus maximus) in cultivation in Wellington. Photo © Leon Perrie.

If you’re on the east coast of the North Island during this spring and summer, the Department of Conservation would like your help! Please look out for wild plants of the striking, red-flowered kakabeak. Department of Conservation’s blog post “Keep an eye out for kakabeak”. Kakabeak (kowhai ngutu-kākā, Clianthus maximus) is now Critically Endangered. Its… Read more »

The Great Kereru Count 2014 – 22nd September to 5th October

Kereru_count

This blog was written by Mel Dash, who is currently on maternity leave from Te Papa Kererū (New Zealand’s native wood pigeon) are making a comeback but they still need our help so Forest and Bird’s Kiwi Conservation Club (KCC), Kereru Discovery and partners have organised a two week Kererū Count to get an idea… Read more »

Subtropical tree fern challenge

  • 1 C. Reproductive structures of Cyathea milnei, from the Kermadec Islands, in cultivation at Otari-Wilton’s Bush, Wellington. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • 1 B. Cyathea milnei, from the Kermadec Islands, in cultivation at Otari-Wilton’s Bush, Wellington. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • 1 A. Cyathea milnei, from the Kermadec Islands, in cultivation at Otari-Wilton’s Bush, Wellington. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • 2 A. Cyathea kermadecensis, from the Kermadec Islands, in cultivation at Otari-Wilton’s Bush, Wellington. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

I spent yesterday afternoon in the fernery of Otari-Wilton’s Bush, examining two tree fern species from New Zealand’s subtropical Kermadec Islands. More details below, including ‘why?’. But first, a challenge… Each of these Kermadec tree ferns is closely related to a (different) mainland New Zealand species. Can you tell which mainland species? One of the… Read more »

Seasonality in birds and birdwatchers

  • Shining cuckoo graph
  • Shining cuckoos are often secretive, but are unmistakeable when seen well. Image: Duncan Watson, New Zealand Birds Online
  • An adult grey warbler (left) feeds a recently fledged shining cuckoo chick. Image: Malcolm Pullman, New Zealand Birds Online
  • An adult shining cuckoo shows its iridescent dorsal plumage. Image: Nathan Hill, New Zealand Birds Online

One of the characteristic sounds of spring in New Zealand is the clear, upward-slurred whistle of the shining cuckoo. Along with its long-tailed cousin, the two cuckoos are the only New Zealand forest birds that migrate away from New Zealand after breeding. This is in sharp contrast to temperate countries in Europe, Asia and North… Read more »

Charles Darwin was unimpressed with the south coast of Western Australia when he visited in March 1836 calling it ‘dull and uninteresting’. If, however, he had visited during the spring wildflower season its likely he would have come to the opposite conclusion. These days botanically-inclined tourists, such as myself, flock to southwestern Australia during wildflower season…. Read more »