Posts categorized as Biodiversity

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 »

Ruapuke Island – 1941 and 2012 – In the footsteps of Edgar Stead (Part 9)

  • A pair of yellow-eyed penguins on Ruapuke Island., December 2012. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Fernbird carrying insects to its young, Ruapuke Island, December 2012. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • A pair of weka on Ruapuke Island, December 2012. Dark morph female on left, brown morph male on right. Images: Colin Miskelly
  • Ruapuke Island from the south-east, with Bluff Hill in the distance. Image: Colin Miskelly

Te Papa’s curator of terrestrial vertebrates Dr Colin Miskelly is researching the life and work of the Canterbury naturalist Edgar Stead (1881-1949). This includes re-taking Stead’s photos from the same photo-point, taking other images to illustrate his diaries, and describing how the ecology and wildlife of each of 10 islands has changed since Stead’s visits…. Read more »

Green Island (Papatea) – 1941 and 2012 – In the footsteps of Edgar Stead (Part 8)

  • New Zealand fur seal cows and pups on Green Island, December 2012. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Geckos (Woodworthia 'Otago large') on Green Island, December 2012. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Fernbird photographed on Ruapuke Island, December 2012. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Brown creeper on Green Island, December 2012. Image: Colin Miskelly

Te Papa’s curator of terrestrial vertebrates Dr Colin Miskelly is researching the life and work of the Canterbury naturalist Edgar Stead (1881-1949). This includes re-taking Stead’s photos from the same photo-point, taking other images to illustrate his diaries, and describing how the ecology and wildlife of each of 10 islands has changed since Stead’s visits…. Read more »

Hunting henriettas on Ruapuke Island – on the tail of New Zealand’s first mice

Henrietta Bay on the south coast of Ruapuke Island. The cannon is claimed to have come from the Elizabeth Henrietta. Photo: Colin Miskelly

Few people are aware of Ruapuke Island. Guarding the eastern approaches to Foveaux Strait, the 1600 ha island is large enough to appear as a smudge of colour at the very bottom of TV3’s weather map. Yet the island’s low relief means that passengers on the Stewart Island ferry 20 km to the west barely… Read more »