Posts categorized as Research

Watching nature with NatureWatch

I saw this giant stick insect on the perimeter fence of the Zealandia sanctuary in Wellington. I wanted to know what kind of stick insect it was, so uploaded a photo to NatureWatch: http://naturewatch.org.nz/observations/385266

Do you want to learn more about the animals, fungi, and plants around you? Would you like to help scientists better understand the distribution of New Zealand’s biodiversity? If so, then the citizen-science website NatureWatch NZ  is for you. You can find out more about NatureWatch at the Wellington Botanical Society meeting on Monday 17th March,… Read more »

Critters of the Snares Islands

  • A Prodontria longitarsis chafer beetle on Veronica elliptica at night. Image: Alan Tennyson, Te Papa
  • Lyperobius nesidiotes photographed on Anisotome acutifolia on Broughton Island in 1984. A recent survey failed to find its host plant on Broughton Island, the only site where the weevil was known to occur, and so it is possible that this rarest of the Snares Islands’ insects has quietly chewed its way to extinction. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Anisotome acutifolia in flower near the Razorback on North East Island, Snares Islands. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Colin Miskelly standing next to a large punui (Stilbocarpa robusta) on the Snares Islands. This plant had leaves up to 73 cm across. Image: Alan Tennyson, Te Papa

A Te Papa team recently visited the Snares Islands Nature Reserve, 105 km south-southwest of Stewart Island, where they completed a range of seabird and plant research projects. Here, Colin Miskelly (Curator Terrestrial Vertebrates) describes some of the smaller inhabitants of the Snares Islands. Watch Science Live: Expedition Snares Island to find out more about… Read more »

Anthony Hume Whitaker, MNZM (1944–2014) – a tribute

  • Whitaker’s skink (Oligosoma whitakeri), Pukerua Bay, January 1997. Tony Whitaker discovered this species on two islands off Whitianga, and it was subsequently found to occur also at Pukerua Bay north of Wellington (and nowhere else). It was named in honour of Tony by Graham Hardy in 1977. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • McGregor’s skink (Oligosoma macgregori), and Sail Rock viewed from Dragon Mouth Cove, Taranga (Hen Island). Tony Whitaker found McGregor’s skink to be present on Sail Rock during landings there in January 1969 and March 1971. McGregor’s skinks from Sail Rock were translocated to nearby Lady Alice and Whatupuke Islands after Pacific rats were eradicated on both islands. Images: Colin Miskelly
  • Whitaker’s skink (Oligosoma whitakeri), Pukerua Bay, January 1997. Tony Whitaker discovered this species on two islands off Whitianga, and it was subsequently found to occur also at Pukerua Bay north of Wellington (and nowhere else). It was named in honour of Tony by Graham Hardy in 1977. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Tony Whitaker (centre) with Department of Conservation staff Ian Cooksley and Mark Townsend during a ‘pre-rat-eradication’ lizard survey on Kapiti Island, May 1995. Image: Colin Miskelly

Tony Whitaker (or ‘Whit’ to his many friends) was the godfather of modern herpetology in New Zealand. Following more than half a century of fieldwork to the remotest corners of New Zealand, there were few lizard species that he had not seen, nor lizard researchers that he had not cheerfully assisted. Tony’s passion for, and… Read more »

We know what you did this summer!!

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Bart Cox and Jasmine Gibbins spent their summer researching native orchids at Te Papa. Bart and Jasmine are part of a group of seven students from Victoria University of Wellington that were awarded a Summer Research Scholarship co-funded by Te Papa and Victoria University of Wellington. Bart’s research focused on a threatened perching orchid, Drymoanthus flavus, and its… Read more »

Hugh Pollen (1851-1912) – the ultimate faceless bureaucrat?

Hugh Pollen was the influential head of New Zealand’s largest government department for 20 years – but what did he look like? Hugh was the son of medical doctor, civil servant and politician Daniel Pollen (1813-96), who was briefly (1875-76) Premier of New Zealand – i.e. the pre-1907 equivalent of Prime Minister. Hugh entered public… Read more »

Reptiles of Taranga (Hen Island) and nearby islands

  • McGregor's skink, Mana Island. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Copper skink, Ohinau Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Common gecko, Ohinau Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Shore skink, Ohinau Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Te Papa’s Curator of Terrestrial Vertebrates Dr Colin Miskelly visited Taranga for a week in December 2010 as part of his research into the life and fieldwork of the naturalist Edgar Stead. Here, Colin describes the reptiles found on the island, along with reptile records from surrounding islands, and the potential for reptile recovery and… Read more »

Life through a burrowscope lens (Part 4) – subterranean Ohinau Island

  • A fluttering shearwater chick inside its burrow on Ohinau-iti Island. Image: Robyn Blyth
  • A Mercury Island tusked weta inside a burrow on Ohinau Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A fluttering shearwater egg in a burrow on a stack off Ohinau Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A little penguin inside a burrow on Ohinau Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Te Papa vertebrate curator Dr Colin Miskelly recently spent 12 days on Ohinau Island (east of Whitianga, Coromandel Peninsula) as part of a Te Papa seabird research team. This blog reports on what the team found living underground on the island. As described in previous blogs in this series, a burrowscope is a high-tech tool… Read more »