Posts categorized as Biodiversity

Science Live: Whalebirds – the mystery of the storm riders. Part 1. Come join us!

Fairy Prion in flight. Photo © Phil Battley.

On August 13th scientists at Te Papa hosted their first Science Live event.  The public were able to accompany some of the Museum’s ichthyologists into the lab to watch them dissect and process a sunfish that was over 2m long!  Now they didn’t have crowds of people marching into the Tory Street labs (there just… Read more »

Poor Knights lily: a stunning, yet undervalued, New Zealand native plant

Poor Knight’s lilies in a garden next to the Welsh Dragon Bar, bordered by Wakefield and Kent Terraces. Photo credit: Lara Shepherd

Something spectacular is happening around Wellington – Poor Knights lilies (Raupo taranga; Xeronema callistemon) are bursting into flower! In contrast to the tiny inconspicuous white flowers typical of many New Zealand endemic plants, Poor Knights lilies have bright red flower spikes that look a little like bottlebrushes. But despite these flamboyant displays Poor Knight’s lilies… Read more »

A native species re-recorded for Wellington

  • Underside of a frond of Asplenium lamprophyllum, showing the comparatively long sori (reproductive structures). Photo © Leon Perrie.
  • Asplenium lamprophyllum. Photo © Leon Perrie.
  • Distribution map of Asplenium lamprophyllum, based on specimens in Te Papa’s herbarium. Other herbaria have records of the species from northern Taranaki and Whanganui. Click for a page with a zoomable map.
  • Asplenium_lamprophyllum_2_Ngauranga4_reduced

The Wellington Botanical Society has just added* (* actually it is confirmed, rather than added; see update below) another species to the list of native plants known from Wellington – the fern Asplenium lamprophyllum. To find (* rediscover) such a relatively big species so close to New Zealand’s capital city may seem a little surprising. Just… Read more »

Dotted landscapes in Aboriginal art

Balls of grey-green grasses dotting the red earth of the opposing hillside across the valley. The scale is misleading – note the gum tree at top-centre. © Leon Perrie.

One of the sections in the current incarnation of the Ngā Toi, Arts Te Papa exhibition showcases a selection from Te Papa’s collection of Australian Aboriginal art. The show Gifted: Aboriginal Art 1971 – 2011 includes Papunya Tula paintings created in the 1970’s in a community near Alice Springs with a style of Aboriginal art… Read more »

Ambiguous plant life – art daisies and hard ferns

Colenso’s hard fern, Blechnum colensoi, with a fertile frond at centre. That it is brown rather than black indicates that the spores have largely been shed. Photo: Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Alan Reynolds’s Saga is one of the paintings currently on display in Te Papa’s Ngā Toi exhibition. It is described as a winter landscape, with dead plants bursting from the frozen earth. Ngā Toi’s On The Wall description. Amongst the bleakness, my eyes are drawn to just-a-little-right of centre, where the white elongate structure with… Read more »

Arthropteris climbing ferns

Arthropteris_tenella_climbing_reduced

I’m a co-author of a just-published scientific paper examining the evolution and classification of the Arthropteris climbing ferns. The paper was a real international collaboration, involving authors from China, Netherlands, France, United Kingdom, and New Zealand. It is unclear how many species there are of Arthropteris – probably somewhere between 10 and 20. They occur… Read more »

The long-and-short of lycophytes

Phylloglossum drummondii, less than 2 cm tall, in a Northland swamp.  For scale, there is a manuka fruit in the background.  Photo © Leon Perrie.

I don’t do plant-free holidays, and one of the species I wanted to photograph during my recent Northland holiday was the tiny and rare Phylloglossum drummondii. This diminutive plant has a Nationally Critical conservation ranking, because of its low numbers and the destruction of its swamp habitat. Finding it necessitates a winter (or early spring) field trip,… Read more »

Banks’ black and white engravings – now imaged and online!

Brachyglottis repanda Forster & G. Forster, 1895 Parkinson. A common coastal, forest and lower montane New Zealand species.

  It took many hours of sorting, registration, taxonomy review, preparation and coordination, then 12 long sessions in the imaging lab.  Te Papa Science staff have now completed the online access for 2241 black & white engravings of plants collected on Captain Cook’s first voyage. The Te Papa Collection Online narratives about the Banks and Solander black and white engravings… Read more »