Posts categorized as Research

Were broad-billed prions from The Snares part of the massive die-off of this species in 2011?

  • South Bay Snares
  • Dead skua prey remains
  • Skuas feeding
  • Broad-billed prion chick, Snares Island. Te Papa

This was one of the key questions that we were trying to answer when four Te Papa scientists – Colin Miskelly, Antony Kusabs, Jean-Claude Stahl and I – set off for the subantarctic Snares Islands in November-December 2013.  The Snares are one of the world’s great seabird islands and broad-billed prions – a small blue-and-white… Read more »

Recognition for Te Papa plant researcher

Phil Garnock-Jones, 2013 winner of the Nancy Burbidge medal in Australasian systematic botany.

Congratulations to Phil Garnock-Jones on being awarded the Nancy Burbidge medal, for his longstanding and significant contribution to Australasian systematic botany. Phil is the first New Zealander to receive the award, which is the highest bestowed by the Australasian Systematic Botany Society. Systematic botany is the study of the relationships, naming, and classification of plants. Australasian Systematic… Read more »

Moss, liverwort, and lichen Workshop

  • Te Papa Research Fellow Patrick Brownsey collecting a moss near National Park.   The collected material is stored in an envelope folded from a sheet of A4 paper; each collection goes into a separate envelope. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • A so-called leafy liverwort, Lepidolaena.  Most liverworts, and many mosses, are usually found in damp, shaded habitats; I’ve taken this one to a sunny spot for a better photograph.  Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • A crustose lichen, semi-embedded in the surface of a rock, high on Mount Ruapehu.  The black patches at left are the moss Andreaea, an alpine specialist.  Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • Dicranoloma mosses are one of the forest-dominants in New Zealand.  They are not big (although they are quite big for a moss), but they are very common.  This is Dicranoloma menziesii.  Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Nearly 50 people are attending this year’s John Child Bryophyte and Lichen Workshop in Ohakune.  Bryophytes include mosses and liverworts.  The Workshop is a focussed opportunity to study these small plants.  Although usually overlooked, they actually make a huge contribution to forest biomass and functioning.  Mosses and liverworts reproduce by spores, as do ferns.  Spores… Read more »

Forgotten Highway ferns

  • Umbrella fern, tapuwae kotuku, Sticherus cunninghamii.  Most species in this family have fronds that repeatedly split into two. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • Sweet fern, Pteris macilenta.  The reproductive structures are in lines along the margins of the frond segments, and the veins are obviously netted (diverging and coming back together). Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • Single crape fern, heruheru, Leptopteris hymenophylloides.  Although translucent like a filmy fern, this species grows much bigger and the spore-producing structures are scattered over the frond undersides.  Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • Hairy fern, Lastreopsis hispida.  A shield fern with its reproductive structures in circular aggregates, this species is easily recognised by the hairy bristles on its frond stalk. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Three of Te Papa’s botanists (plant scientists) are currently at the annual John Child Bryophyte and Lichen Workshop, held this year in Ohakune.    A small group including the Te Papa team spent the week before the Workshop exploring the Forgotten Highway (State Highway 43) between Stratford and Taumarunui, for mosses and liverworts, and ferns as… Read more »

A plague of flax weevils – a conservation hyper-success story

  • Dead flax bushes as the flax weevil release site on Mana Island, Nov 2013. Image: Jeff Hall, Department of Conservation
  • Tui feeding on flax nectar. Image: Craig McKenzie, New Zealand Birds Online
  • Flax weevils on a flax flower stalk at night on Mana Island, Nov 2013. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Flax weevils browse on an immature flax flower spike at night on Mana Island, Nov 2013. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Most people think of weevils as little maggoty grubs that infest stored grain products. Which is true, but the reality is that the weevil family is the most diverse family of organisms on the planet, with more than 50,000 species. Weevils are beetles, and adults are characterised by having a long snout and antennae bent… Read more »

Mining Denniston

Part of the area at Denniston set to be opencast-mined. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

The mining on Denniston has been given the go-ahead by the Environment Court. Radio New Zealand report on the approval of the Bathurst Escarpment mine. The mine application covers just over one square kilometre. According to a report by the Department of Conservation, there are within that area at least eight plants and animals that… Read more »

A new species of filmy fern

The newly-described rainforest filmy fern, Hymenophyllum pluviatile. Photo Leon Perrie. Copyright Te Papa.

Te Papa’s biodiversity scientists regularly describe new species of plants and animals. Just added to this list is another New Zealand fern. This new species is a Hymenophyllum filmy fern. Hymenophyllum means thin-leaved. The fronds of most species are only one cell thick, giving them a translucent appearance. We have named the new species Hymenophyllum… Read more »

Science Live: Whalebirds – the mystery of the storm riders. Success!

Science Live on YouTube

On Tuesday, 22 October 2013 we, the ornithology team at Te Papa, hosted the museum’s second Science Live event- Whalebirds- the mystery of the storm riders.  We brought the public into the lab using live streaming so they could watch us on YouTube and send questions in via Twitter and Facebook.  It was very exciting… Read more »

Science Live: Whalebirds – the mystery of the storm riders. The Prequel: Influx of Prions to Wellington Zoo

  • Prion in Pool
  • Production line for crop tubing Prions medication, food and fluids. Photo © Wellington Zoo
  • Friendly Prion assisting with food preparation. He actively sought out human company and enjoyed “assisting” with preparations. Photo © Wellington Zoo
  • Lisa Argilla, Veterinary Science Manager at Wellington Zoo. Photo © Wellington Zoo

  Today’s blog is a prequel to yesterday’s Science Live event- Whalebirds- the mystery of the storm riders (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVZjED7Icyc).   It is written by Dr. Lisa Argilla.  Lisa has been the Veterinary Science Manager at Wellington Zoo since early 2011.  She has a keen interest in seabirds seeing as her Master’s thesis research was on… Read more »