Posts categorized as Biodiversity

Further flax weevil finds from farthest Fiordland

  • Flax weevil on Round Island, Preservation Inlet. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • Southern Winds in Cascade Basin at the head of Long Sound. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • Flax weevil larvae, Preservation Inlet, November 2017. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • Sites where flax weevil feeding sign was noted in Chalky and Preservation Inlets in November 2017. Red arrows show islands where live flax weevils were found. Map based on NatureWatch sightings contributed by the Te Papa and DOC team.

Until 2016, flax weevils (large flightless protected beetles) were known from a single island in Fiordland. Recent surveys by Te Papa and Department of Conservation staff have now found evidence of them on a further 56 Fiordland islands. Here, Te Papa scientist Dr Colin Miskelly reports on the latest findings from remote southern Fiordland. What… Read more »

Seabird discoveries in remote southern Fiordland

  • Colin Miskelly searching for petrel burrows on one of the ‘Fingers’ of Five Fingers Peninsula, Resolution Island, with the Southern Winds below. Photo by Alan Tennyson. Te Papa
  • A broad-billed prion chick on an islet off the southern Fiordland coast. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • Team members landing on outer Garden Island, Chalky Inlet. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • A broad-billed prion (left) and an Antarctic prion (right), Chalky Inlet, November 2017. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa

Te Papa scientists Alan Tennyson and Colin Miskelly recently joined a Department of Conservation-led survey of seabird colonies in remote Chalky Inlet and Preservation Inlet in southern Fiordland. The team made the most of an extended spell of fine weather to land on an astonishing 77 islands. Vertebrate curator Dr Colin Miskelly here summarises some… Read more »

Martinborough’s cave of bones: How thousands of flightless birds met their end

Adzebill skulls

Fossilised bird grave sites are common in New Zealand, but one particular cave in Martinborough has revealed thousands of bones of flightless birds who plunged to their deaths. Curator of vertebrates Alan Tennyson describes how over thousands of years rare and extinct birds such kakapo, kiwi, North Island takahe, and moa fell through the concealed… Read more »

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.
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  • 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 »