Posts categorized as Biodiversity

Life through a burrowscope lens (Part 2) – subterranean Poor Knights Islands

  • Flax snail (Placostylus hongii) inside a shearwater burrow on Aorangi Island, as viewed through a burrowscope. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Flax snail (Placostylus hongii) inside a shearwater burrow on Aorangi Island, as viewed through a burrowscope. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Two fully-grown kingfisher chicks inside their burrow on Aorangi Island, viewed through a burrowscope. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Kingfisher burrow entrance, Aorangi Island, Poor Knights Islands Nature Reserve. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Te Papa’s curator of terrestrial vertebrates Dr Colin Miskelly recently visited the Poor Knights Islands Nature Reserve, off the Northland coast, as part of a research team tracking the at-sea movements of Buller’s shearwaters. The project is led by Graeme Taylor of the Department of Conservation, and is intended to identify the marine environments used… Read more »

Sense and Sensibility in the Southern Ocean – A character-building story of albatross and researcher personalities in extreme conditions. Part 2. Tropical waters

  • Flying fish in the waters of 29 deg S. Image: Julian Collet, © Julian
  • Barau’s Petrel one day south of Reunion Island. Image: Julian Collet, © Julian Collet
  • Julien Collet CNRS Research Assistant keeps an eye out for whales and seabirds from the top deck of the Marion Dufresne. Image: Susan Waugh, © Te Papa
  • Lieutenant Iulia Popescu of the Marion Dufresne checks our position at the chart table.

Our visit to the Crozet Islands, a French Sub-Antarctic nature reserve at 41 deg S in the Indian Ocean started yesterday, embarking on the RV Marion Dufresne. We’re steaming straight south from La Reunion, towards the Crozet Islands, with landfall due in about 6 days. Overnight we made good steaming with an average speed of… Read more »

Fern stamps

New Zealand Post has just released a series of postage stamps featuring five New Zealand ferns. The illustrations are excellent. Images of the stamps, from New Zealand Post’s website. The five ferns featured are: hen and chickens fern, Asplenium bulbiferum – $0.70 kidney fern, Cardiomanes reniforme – $1.40 Colenso’s hard fern, Blechnum colensoi – $1.90… Read more »

More tangle – a new species of tangle fern

  • Frond underside of Gleichenia inclusisora. The white and flattish frond segments are one of its distinctive features. The undersides of the frond segments of Gleichenia dicarpa are whitish but pouched, while those of Gleichenia microphylla are flat but green. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa
  • Except when very young, the lower stems of Gleichenia inclusisora are usually naked of scales or hairs, in contrast to the other Gleichenia species in New Zealand. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • All four Gleichenia species presently recognised in New Zealand can grow together, to the extent of intertwining. Gleichenia inclusisora most commonly co-occurs with Gleichenia dicarpa. Gleichenia inclusisora (right) often has a shinier upper-surface, sometimes allowing the two species to be distinguished at a distance. However, this doesn’t always work as well as it does in this photo! Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • Close-up of the frond underside of Gleichenia inclusisora. The reproductive structures (sori) each comprise three sporangia (which produce the spores, the yellow dots) embedded in a pit in the frond. Some empty pits are visible. The distinctive rounded, bicoloured scales can also be seen at top left. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

I’d like to introduce a new species of New Zealand fern, Gleichenia inclusisora. Our scientific description was published just before Christmas 2012. The recognition of this species edges the number of native New Zealand fern and lycophyte species nearly to 200. Abstract of paper describing Gleichenia inclusisora. Email me if you would like a pdf… Read more »

Is this the world’s biggest nettle leaf?

Ongaonga leaf - note the ruler starts at 500 mm.

Whilst recently chasing seabirds on Titi Island we came across tree nettles (ongaonga, Urtica ferox) with super-sized leaves. The largest leaf we measured was 28 cm long, much longer than the maximum leaf length of 18 cm given for this species in the Flora of New Zealand. Perhaps the abundant seabird droppings on this island… Read more »

Wild plants in town – a homage

  • I love the way plants grow / all over the place. / Weeds, I read once, / are ‘plants out of place’. / But, who’s to say? / Who’s to say?  Image © to and courtesy of jMj.
  • Epuni Street / Aerial roots / a source of / endless fascination for me. / What am I taking in / from the air / just by / being in it.  Image © to and courtesy of jMj.
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  • Above Strathmore. / 6” Coastal battery / on the Hills above Strathmore / 70th Heavy Battery / Guns. Not much beside remains. / Taupata - / 6” too?  Image © to and courtesy of jMj.

Plants can grow in what appear to be the strangest places.  This can be frustrating for property owners (e.g., grass in the gutter; footpaths cracked by pohutukawa roots). But our view of plants is often from our own animal-centric perspective; unlike our zoological kin, an individual plant doesn’t have the option of moving to a… Read more »

Critters of Titi Island Nature Reserve, Marlborough Sounds

  • The carnivorous snail Rhytida stephenensis on Titi Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Sarah Jamieson eyeballing one of several holes chewed through her bedroll by ground weta on Titi Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Ground weta (Hemiandrus sp.) on Titi Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Female Wellington tree weta (Hemideina crassidens) on Titi Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Titi Island is a 32-ha reserve administered by the Department of Conservation and situated in the outer Marlborough Sounds. The island’s fauna was impacted by introduced Norway rats until these were eradicated in the early 1970s. The island has since been free of all introduced predators. Two species of large flightless insects plus tuatara were… Read more »

Life through a burrowscope lens – subterranean Titi Island

  • Tuatara inside a burrow on Titi Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Little penguin inside a burrow on Titi Island.  Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Sooty shearwater inside a burrow on Titi Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Flesh-footed shearwater inside a burrow on Titi Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

By Sarah Jamieson & Colin Miskelly Over the past two (southern hemisphere) summers, Te Papa seabird researchers have been investigating population trends and foraging behaviour of flesh-footed shearwaters. These all-dark seabirds are well known to recreational fishers around the North Island and in Cook Strait, as the birds have the annoying habit of sitting behind… Read more »