Posts categorized as Research

The DeCLASSIFIED! citizen science projects have been running for nearly three months. These projects are an opportunity to learn spiders and ferns with Te Papa’s experts, and to help us with our research. The Ferns with Te Papa project has gathered up more than 920 observations from 59 contributors. 365 of these observations have been… Read more »

Life through a burrowscope lens (Part 5) – subterranean Takapourewa / Stephens Island

  • A sooty shearwater broods its newly-hatched chick inside its burrow on Takapourewa, as viewed through a burrowscope, January 2015. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • A fairy prion on the colony surface at night on Takapourewa. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • A tuatara inside a burrow on Takapourewa, as viewed through a burrowscope, January 2015. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • A fully-grown fairy prion inside its burrow on Takapourewa, as viewed through a burrowscope, January 2015. Image: Colin Miskelly

Te Papa vertebrate curator Dr Colin Miskelly recently led a team that visited Takapourewa / Stephens Island Nature Reserve, to select and gather up 100 fairy prion chicks to move to Mana Island near Wellington. This is the sixth (and last) in a series of blogs about the project and the wildlife of Takapourewa. As… Read more »

Last week Te Papa Botany curator Leon Perrie and I attended the Uawa BioBlitz in Tolaga Bay. Organized by the Allan Wilson Centre and Groundtruth, the BioBlitz was an intense 24 hours of species discovery. Scientists from a variety of organisations were joined by members of the local community, including kids from the Tolaga Bay… Read more »

A box of fluffy birds – the sequel. Fairy prion chicks fly from Mana Island

  • A fairy prion chick waits its turn in the feeding queue on Mana Island. Image courtesy of David Cornick
  • A fairy prion at sea. The chicks that flew from Mana Island in January-February 2015 are not expected back on land until at least 2018. Image: Les Feasey, NZ Birds Online
  • A fairy prion chick being hand-fed on Mana Island. Image courtesy of David Cornick
  • The burrow installation team hard at work, under the supervision of Helen Gummer (lower right), Mana Island, July 2014. Image courtesy of David Cornick

Fairy prions are small burrow-nesting seabirds that breed in large colonies on many islands around New Zealand. The largest colony (of about 1.8 million pairs) is on Takapourewa / Stephens Island in the western approaches to Cook Strait. As part of a project to restore the ecology of Mana Island (off the Wellington west coast),… Read more »

Antarctic blog #8 – The end of the world

  • The author reflected in the ceremonial South Pole marker. The marker is partially surrounded by the flags of the 12 original signatory nations to the Antarctic Treaty. The New Zealand flag is to my left. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, situated alongside the Geographic South Pole. US Antarctic Research Program staff gave us a brief tour of the base and described some of the research underway there. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Previous years' South Pole markers housed inside the USARP Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • The author standing beside the 2014 Geographic South Pole marker. Image: Colin Miskelly

Te Papa vertebrate curator Dr Colin Miskelly visited Antarctica during November-December 2014 as a guest lecturer for Adventure Network International (ANI). This is the final blog in a series based on his experiences in Antarctica, and particularly at the Gould Bay emperor penguin colony in the southern Weddell Sea. For many people, Antarctica and the… Read more »

A box of fluffy birds – moving fairy prions from Takapourewa / Stephens Island to Mana Island

  • An aerial view of the artificial burrows (with wooden lids, at right of image) waiting to receive the 100 chicks on Mana Island. The caravan is used as shelter while feeding the chicks, with the team of FOMI volunteer feeders staying in accommodation about a kilometre away. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Fifty boxes containing 100 fairy prion chicks fill the cargo hold of the BK helicopter. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Colin Miskelly (left) and FOMI committee member and project manager Brian Bell weigh a fairy prion chick while making the final selection of which chicks to move. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A tuatara dropping on Takapourewa containing the webbed foot of a fairy prion chick. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Te Papa vertebrate curator Dr Colin Miskelly recently led a team that visited Takapourewa / Stephens Island Nature Reserve, to select and gather up 100 fairy prion chicks to move to Mana Island near Wellington. This is the first in a series of blogs about the project and the wildlife of Takapourewa. Over the past… Read more »

Help us make discoveries

Garden two-spined spider, Poecilopachus australasia. Auckland. rfdawn CC BY-NC

Interested in the ‘outdoors’? Want to learn more about the animals and plants around you? Want to make discoveries? Perhaps even find a new species? Want to help (1) Te Papa with its scientific research and (2) New Zealand better understand and manage its biodiversity? Sounds like the citizen science projects accompanying the DeCLASSIFIED! exhibition… Read more »

Tangle ferns untangled

The undersides of the four species of Gleichenia tangle fern accepted for New Zealand. From top: alpine tangle fern, Gleichenia alpina; tangle fern, waewae-kötuku, Gleichenia dicarpa; pitted tangle fern, Gleichenia inclusisora; carrier tangle, matua-rarauhe, Gleichenia microphylla. Scale bar = 2 cm. Composite image © Te Papa.

A focus for my research in 2014 has been preparing an account on the Gleicheniaceae fern family for the online Flora of New Zealand. More on the revolutionary online Flora of New Zealand. The Gleicheniaceae in New Zealand comprises nine species in the genera Dicranopteris (one species, restricted to central North Island thermal areas), Gleichenia… Read more »

Te Papa’s Science Showcased

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The exhibition DeCLASSIFIED! Nature’s secrets exposed at Te Papa has just opened. It showcases recent discoveries by Te Papa’s scientists. Find out more about DeCLASSIFIED! Nature’s secrets exposed on Te Papa’s website. There are species new to science – from fish to landhoppers, seaweeds, lice, ferns, and fossil parrots. Other discoveries include newly documented behaviours…. Read more »

Westland Petrels weathering the storm…mostly!

  • Tree fallen in the Westland Petrel colony showing a petrel burrow inspection lid (white object 1/2 buried in the ground) amongst the uprooted roots of the tree. Image Susan Waugh, Copyright Te Papa.
  • Viewed from the screen of the burrow-scope we get a clear view of the petrel chick inside the burrow. Image: Susan Waugh. Copyright Te Papa.
  • A classic sign of petrel activity in the mud-stone of Westland's Punakaiki coast. Birds climbing up the steep terrain make claw-marks in the soft substrate. This bedrock also proves a slippery base for the overlying topsoil, which has slipped off in large areas in and around the Westland Petrel colonies monitored by Te Papa researchers in 2014. Image: Susan Waugh, Copyright Te Papa.
  • A juvenile Westland petrel. We banded all young birds at the study colony, to track their survival to recruitment to the breeding population in 4-5 years time. Image: Susan Waugh, Copyright, Te Papa.

New Zealand has an amazing diversity of seabirds. Around 1/3 of the worlds 348 species are found in New Zealand waters, with a high number of endemic and threatened species among them. Te Papa has a long-term research programme on Westland Petrels, a species that nests in the coastal cliffs near Punakaiki, on the West… Read more »