Posts categorized as Biodiversity

Plant Conservation Conference and weedy native plants

Pittosporum crassifolium (karo) is native to the northern North Island. However, it has been widely cultivated, and is now spreading aggressively in many places. In Titahi Bay, karo threatens to displace locally-native species, including some of conservation significance. In the photo, karo is overtopping, and will eventually displace, the locally-native Melicytus obovatus. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa

I’m just back from the 2013 conference of the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network, where I presented a talk about weedy native plants. The programme of talks included updates on the conservation status of New Zealand’s plants, and the new system being implemented by the Department of Conservation to prioritise management of ecosystems and species…. Read more »

Behind the scenes: A week in the life of a natural history curator

  • A wing being prepared by Catherine for incorporation into the collection.
  • Alan with a shearwater skeleton prepared by Catherine.
  • Alan looking through Te Papa's prion skin collection.
  • Alan and Trish looking at birds eggs in Te Papa's collection. Te Papa has recently improved their storage method of these fragile items.

What does a Te Papa curator do? I spent last week following Te Papa’s terrestrial vertebrate curator Alan Tennyson to find out. Here are some of the main highlights:  Visitors Monday saw Alan meet with Trish Nugent-Lyne, a collection manager at Whanganui Regional Museum. Te Papa staff are helping Trish prepare an articulated dog skeleton… Read more »

How to DNA sex birds.

Sex chromosomes in birds and mammals.

The males and females of many bird species are difficult to distinguish by their appearance (peacocks are a notable exception). There are many situations where it is useful to know the sex of birds including captive breeding programmes, behavioural studies and even species delimitation in extinct taxa. DNA sexing provides a simple and quick way… Read more »

Would you mine a rare population?

The umbrella fern Sticherus tener at a site within the planned Escarpment Mine on the Denniston Plateau. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

The Escarpment Mine on the Denniston Plateau has been tentatively approved by the Environment Court, subject to suitable mitigation plans. One of the issues that may be under consideration is what to do about the site’s population of the Sticherus tener umbrella fern. Scoop news report: “…tentative nod for Denniston mine plan”. Sticherus tener has… Read more »

The amazing longfin eel

A longfin eel.  This female hasn't bred yet, and she will do so only once, after swimming to somewhere between New Caledonia and Fiji.  Photo (c) Alton Perrie.

This week the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment released a report on the status and management of the longfin eel. It was entitled “On a pathway to extinction?” The report found that the management of longfin eels by New Zealand government agencies was inadequate and failing. It further recommended the cessation of commercial fishing of… Read more »

Three Kings Expedition collects yellow weever, a new record for the area

Three Kings Expedition collects yellow weever, Parapercis gilliesi (family Pinguipedidae), a new record for the area, 13 April 2013. Te Papa

By Clive Roberts The Te Papa fish team currently has two members participating in the Three Kings Islands Marine Expedition. Skilled in fieldwork techniques, collecting, photographing and preserving fishes, Vincent Zintzen and Jeremy Barker are busy underwater surveying and sampling fishes, invertebrates and algae with colleagues during the day, and are up late at night… Read more »

How to learn ferns

  • Close up of the scales of Cyathea (left) and the hairs of Dicksonia (right). Photos Leon Perrie, © Te Papa.
  • Trichomanes venosum. In Trichomanes, the reproductive structures are enclosed by a tubular, often trumpet-like structure. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • Cardiomanes reniforme, kidney fern. More closely related to Hymenophyllum than Trichomanes, although the reproductive structures are at least superficially more similar to the latter. Photo Leon Perrie. © Leon Perrie.
  • Tmesipteris elongata, a fork fern. More closely related to ferns than to seed plants or lycophytes. Nevertheless, the relationship is a distant one, and it doesn’t look very fern like. There are at least five species in New Zealand, and they are usually epiphytic on tree ferns. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Last weekend I was out with the Kapiti-Mana branch of Forest and Bird, giving them an introduction to ferns. A few weeks back, I gave a similar walking-talk at Otari-Wilton’s Bush in Wellington. Many people find ferns an appealing group to learn. Aside from their iconic status in New Zealand, good learning resources are available, and… Read more »

A few more botanical highlights from the Foxton fieldtrip….and a katipo spider!

  • Taking a break from botanizing Viv McGlynn managed to locate this female Katipo spider under a piece of driftwood in the dunes.
  • Sand coprosma (Coprosma acerosa). The fruit colour of this species can vary but the plants we saw in the dunes near Foxton had striking blue fruit.
  • The keen eyes of Bot Soc member Bev Abbott spotted the tiny fruit of sand gunnera (Gunnera arenaria).
  • The distinctive asymmetric flower of Selliera rotundifolia.

I also spent an enjoyable few days over Easter on the Wellington Botanical Society fieldtrip (see Leon’s blog about the trip). Here are a few more photos from the trip. It is difficult to believe that this tiny native species is in the same genus as the huge Chilean rhubarb. The leaves of this weedy… Read more »

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 »