Posts categorized as Biodiversity

Help with floating fern

Azolla plants often become red in full sunlight, and they can become so abundant that they carpet ponds, drains, and other still bodies of water. This is Azolla filiculoides in a pond on Mana Island, Wellington. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

I’ve recently learnt that the introduced Azolla pinnata (ferny azolla) has been found in the Wellington region. I’m interested in its distribution and would be grateful for help in looking for more. Azolla plants are fairly easy to spot: look for a red plant covering still bodies of water. Azolla are ferns, believe it or… Read more »

Where to find new species?

Biodiversity-treasure - inside one of Te Papa’s two botany collection stores.  Copyright Te Papa.

Where would you go to find a new species? Perhaps somewhere remote and little-visited, especially if it is ecologically unusual – New Caledonia maybe… Well, instead, how about inside Te Papa’s collections, because that’s where I first discovered a new species of Gleichenia tangle fern. A lot of biodiversity remains to be documented, particularly amongst… Read more »

World’s rarest whale revealed to the world.

M traversii mother

Even in this well-informed age it’s surprising how much we still don’t know about the natural world – especially the oceans!    All whales must come to the surface to breathe, despite this the Spade-tooth whale Mesoplodon traversii (Gray, 1874), an animal over 5m in length, has never been see alive, and until 31 December 2010 no one… Read more »

New Caledonian plants

  • Another threat to New Caledonia’s vegetation is browsing by introduced deer and pigs. Conservation International are trialling using the amount of browse on the fern Orthiopteris firma to monitor the effectiveness of animal control projects. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • New Caledonia has a higher GDP per capita than New Zealand, principally due to nickel and copper mining. Mining operations are widely evident. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • The large areas covered by Melaleuca trees are very reminiscent of Australia. But they are also testament to one of the major threats to New Caledonia’s vegetation – fire. The fern Dicranopteris linearis flourishes amongst the Melaleuca regeneration. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • As I knelt to collect a fern, I was stunned to find myself surrounded by pitcher plants, Nepenthes vieillardii. The ‘pitchers’ are traps for catching insects. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Below are photos of some of the botanical/landscape highlights from the recent expedition to New Caledonia that I participated in. But first, a bit of background: New Zealand and New Caledonia both sit on the (largely) submerged continent Zealandia, which separated from Australia and the rest of Gondwana some 60-80 million years ago. Wikipedia’s page… Read more »

Going (Lady) Gaga over ferns

The rock fern, Cheilanthes sieberi, a New Zealand relative of the newly re-named Gaga ferns. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

USA fern taxonomists have created a minor stir after re-classifying a group of central American ferns into a new genus named Gaga, after the singer Lady Gaga. Abstract of the article formally naming the new genus Gaga. Youtube video of the taxonomists discussing their research. The researchers say the naming for Lady Gaga was in… Read more »