Posts categorized as Biodiversity

New Zealand has a popular paddle crab (scientific name Ovalipes catharus) found at sandy beaches all round the country and often in fish shops, sometimes alive. I talked about paddle crabs and why they’re important during December’s episode of Science Live, Coastal Creatures.  Paddle crabs or swimming crabs are named for their back pair of legs which… Read more »

Critters of Ohinau Island

  • Close-up of the tusks of a male Mercury Island tusked weta, showing the ridges that are rubbed together to create sound. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A pair of Mercury Island tusked weta on the forest floor at night, Ohinau Island, January 2014. The large male (with tusks) is on the left; the long appendage at the rear of the female is her ovipositor, used to lay eggs in the soil. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • The entire range of Mercury Island tusked weta. This rare species survived only on 13 ha Middle Island, the small island left of centre in this image. Following eradications of Pacific rats (kiore) on nearby larger islands, they were successfully translocated to Cuvier Island (on the distant horizon), Korapuki Island (immediately below Cuvier Island, and to the lower right of Great Mercury Island), Stanley Island (the large island to the right of Middle Island), the western end of Double Island (which appears as two small islands to the right of Stanley Island), Red Mercury Island (the long, low island on the right), and Ohinau Island (foreground). Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • An adult male Mercury Island tusked wets (Motuweta isolata) on the forest floor at night, Ohinau Island, January 2014. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Te Papa vertebrate curator Dr Colin Miskelly recently spent 12 days on Ohinau Island (east of Whitianga, Coromandel Peninsula) as part of a Te Papa seabird research team. This blog reports on some of the more impressive invertebrate species that he found on the island. Ohinau is a 43 ha forested island owned by Ngati… Read more »

Past and present fauna of Mt Owen, north-west Nelson

A speargrass weevil (Lyperobius clarkei) on an on the speargrass Aciphylla ferox speargrass.

As well as impressive plants, Mount Owen and the Marino Mountains are also zoologically interesting. The wet weather may have prevented us reaching the summit of Mount Owen but it did bring out the slugs and snails. We spotted a giant leaf-veined slug (Amphikonophora gigantea) beside the track on the lower flanks of the mountain…. Read more »

Snares Islands Flora: the ferns

  • Catchments sloping to the east on North East Island. Image: Antony Kusabs, Te Papa.
  • Bare substrate and titi / mutton bird burrows in Olearia lyallii forest, a common site on North East Island. Image: Antony Kusabs, Te Papa
  • Underside of Asplenium scleroprium frond showing sori extending to lamina margins. Above Hoho Stream, North East Island. Image: Antony Kusabs, Te Papa
  • Asplenium scleroprium, above Hoho Stream, North East Island. Image: Antony Kusabs, Te Papa

There are currently five recognised species of fern on the Snares Islands, the closest sub-antarctic island group to New Zealand. North East Island, the main island of the Snares group, slopes gently downhill from the tall, tussock covered western cliffs towards the forested east coast, creating four small catchments, which drain into Boat Harbour and Hoho Bay.  This combination… Read more »

Snares Islands Flora: an introduction

  • Olearia lyallii. Image: Antony Kusabs, Te Papa.
  • Stilbocarpa robusta. Image: Antony Kusabs, Te Papa.
  • Stellaria media, Gull Point, Boat Harbour, North East Island. Image: Antony Kusabs, Te Papa
  • Stellaria decipiens. Image: Antony Kusabs, Te Papa

The vascular flora of the Snares Islands is limited, at only 22 species (including one hybrid Poa).  Despite this, my first impression of the main island was an island covered with lush vegetation.  And there are still some botanical challenges – we failed to locate the fern Histiopteris incisa for instance.  Vegetation communities on the Snares… Read more »

Newly described fern named after Te Papa curator

An unfurling frond of a Dicksonia perriei, Mt Panie, New Caledonia. Photo: Leon Perrie

A new species of tree fern has recently been named after Te Papa botany curator and fern expert Leon Perrie. The fern, Dicksonia perriei, occurs only in New Caledonia mostly on acidic soils at altitudes above 1000m, in areas of high rainfall. The new species is related to the three other New Caledonia Dicksonia species and to the… Read more »