Posts categorized as Science

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 »

A ROARsome Family Fun Day

The dinosaurs took over Te Papa yesterday on our ROARsome Family Fun Day, and by all accounts, it went down an absolute treat! We started by making our own three-dimensional dinosaur tails (and wings, beaks, hats as creativity ensued). These we decorated with all sorts of craft materials and felt pens, making each quite unique to its owner…. 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 »

Would you scramble into a ‘horrible hole’ to count bird chicks? How about counting the regurgitated remains of a meal? It’s all in a day’s work for Alan Tennyson, a Te Papa scientist studying broad-billed prions (pararā). Can you mimic a bird as well as Alan can mimic a prion? We dare you to try!… 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 »