Posts categorized as Biodiversity

The small and the weedy: Foxton field trip

  • A huddle of prostrate people peering intently at the ground; can only mean a botanical society has fixated on some small plant. Photo © Leon Perrie.
  • The botanical society did not progress far through the tangled swamp forest vegetation of Round Bush/Omarupapako Scenic Reserve. However, we went far enough to encounter karaka (Corynocarpus laevigatus) and to debate its merits in the southern North Island, where some people consider it to be weedy. The large trunk at centre is a podocarp, while the trunk to the immediate left is a tall and reproducing but not particularly old karaka. Karaka seedlings are evident in the foreground. Photo © Leon Perrie.
  • Arrowgrass, Triglochin striata, is not actually a grass, and belongs to the unusual monocot family Juncaginaceae. The arrangement of the flowers and the narrow leaves are distinctive. Photo © Leon Perrie.
  • Intermixed Selliera rotundifolia, with the round leaves, and Lilaeopsis novae-zelandiae, with the jointed linear leaves. Selliera rotundifolia is only found in the south-west of the North Island. Photo © Leon Perrie.

I spent a couple of days of the long weekend with the Wellington Botanical Society, exploring the Foxton area, between Whanganui and Palmerston North. Much of the first and second days were spent in the sand dunes between Himatangi and Foxton Beach, and at Koitiata near Turakina.  Some surprising things can become weedy in the… Read more »

A name change for strap ferns

Reproductive structures on the frond underside of Notogrammitis billardierei. Photo Leon Perrie. (c) Te Papa.

I recently co-authored a paper with Barbara Parris that investigated the scientific classification and naming of New Zealand’s strap ferns. If you’ve spent any time in New Zealand’s forests, you will have almost certainly seen the common strap fern. It has simple, undivided fronds up to 20 cm long, but usually much less. It is… Read more »

Burgess Island – a recovering seabird island

  • Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) accompanied us as we approached the Mokohinau Islands. Photo Alan Tennyson, Te Papa
  • Fig. 1. Team members Jo Peace, Megan Friesen and Derek Bettesworth head towards the Burgess Island lighthouse. Little Barrier Island Hauturu can be seen in the background. Photo Alan Tennyson, Te Papa
  • Fig. 2. Old lighthouse accommodation provided a comfortable base with spectacular views. Photo Alan Tennyson, Te Papa
  • Fig. 5. Black-winged petrels displaying over Burgess Island at night. . Photo Alan Tennyson, Te Papa

By Alan Tennyson, Curator of Vertebrates I was invited by Chris Gaskin (Forest & Bird) and Matt Rayner (Auckland University) to join a party in February 2013 on the Mokohinau Islands to hunt for the nesting grounds of the recently rediscovered New Zealand storm petrel (Fregetta maoriana). This island group lies more than 50 km… Read more »

Learn ferns in Wellington

Loxsoma cunninghamii, in cultivation at Otari-Wilton's Bush.  This is the only species in the genus Loxsoma, and it is only found in New Zealand, where it grows naturally in the northern North Island.  Photo Leon Perrie.

Are you interested in learning more about ferns, and in the Wellington region? Te Papa’s Curator of Botany Leon Perrie is leading a walk through the fernery at the wonderful Otari-Wilton’s Bush: Sunday 24th March 2013, beginning 2pm from the Otari Information Centre.

Sense and Sensibility in the Southern Ocean – A character-building story of albatross and researcher personalities in extreme conditions. Part 4. Le Champ des Albatros

Sam Patrick and Julien Collet discuss results from personality tests, assisted by Betsy, the blue test cow. Image: Susan Waugh, © Te Papa.

Here at the haut lieu of albatross biology – Le Champ des Albatros, Crozet Islands the main study site for Wandering Albatrosses in the French Southern Territories, we have now done a round of all the behaviour testing, GPS deployments and nest checks that await us over the next month. We arrived a week ago,… Read more »

Guide to Fijian tree ferns

Cyathea lunulata, recognisable by its pale scales and frond stalks.  The most prominent tree fern in the Fijian lowlands. Photo by Leon Perrie. (c) Te Papa.

An abundance of tree ferns is one of the botanical characteristics that New Zealand shares with many of the larger Pacific Islands. The number of different species is not especially high, but tree fern individuals feature prominently in many Pacific and New Zealand landscapes. Following my work in Fiji, I’ve produced an online guide to… Read more »

Sense and Sensibility in the Southern Ocean – A character-building story of albatross and researcher personalities in extreme conditions. Part 3. Arriving at the Crozet Islands

  • Aceanas and rusty relics at Crozet Islands. Image: Susan Waugh, © Te Papa
  • French Research Base Alfred Faure at the Crozet Islands. Image: Susan Waugh, © Te Papa
  • Sheathbill at Baie du Marin. Image: Susan Waugh, © Te Papa
  • Unloading at Baie du Marin, Crozet Islands. Image: Susan Waugh, © Te Papa

After a days delay while we took part in an exercise involving the French Navy, we finally sighted the Crozet Islands as the sun cast its water rays over a cold deep blue-grey sea. Suddenly the bird life around the boat changed from the occasional white-chinned petrel and wandering albatross, to flights of little prions,… Read more »

Critters of the Poor Knights Islands

  • Purple rock crabs (Leptograpsus variegatus) scavenge the corpse of a Buller's shearwater, Aorangi Island, Poor Knights Islands Nature Reserve. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Turbott’s weevil (Anagotus turbotti) on ngaio, Aorangi Island, Poor Knights Islands Nature Reserve. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Flax weevil (Anagotus fairburni) feeding on flax/harakeke, Aorangi Island, Poor Knights Islands Nature Reserve. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Adult clapping cicada (Amphipsalta cingulata), 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 »

Reptiles of the Poor Knights Islands

  • Suter's skink, Aorangi Island, Poor Knights Islands Nature Reserve. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Moko skink, Aorangi Island, Poor Knights Islands Nature Reserve. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Shore skink, Aorangi Island, Poor Knights Islands Nature Reserve. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Hardy's skink, 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 »