Posts categorized as Science

Feather identification workshop, Whanganui Regional Museum

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In a collaboration between National Services Te Paerangi and Whanganui Regional Museum, Te Papa’s bicultural researcher Hokimate Harwood brought her extensive feather identification skills to a community of 30 weavers and bird enthusiasts earlier this year. Hokimate’s feather identification research looks to decode materials and messages within kākahu | feather cloaks. This means bringing together… Read more »

Seeing earthquakes

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Dr Hamish Campbell, Te Papa’s geologist in residence from GNS Science, shares his experience witnessing the green lights in the sky following Sunday night’s earthquake. Green sheet lightning I was driving home to Wellington from Auckland late on Sunday night after having had dinner in Taupo with Dinah and our children Niamh and Riley. Petrol… Read more »

Cuckoos, toxic caterpillars, citizen science, and cinerarias

  • Shining cuckoo in gum-tree. Image: Rob Lynch, New Zealand Birds Online
  • Juvenile shining cuckoo with monarch caterpillar, Upper Moutere. Image: Anna Barnett, New Zealand Birds Online
  • Magpie moth caterpillar (Nyctemera annulata). Image: Gonzalo Avila, Plant & Food Research
  • Cinerarias. Image: Colin Miskelly, New Zealand Birds Online

Cuckoos are well-known for eating spiky and poisonous foods, but did you know they can eat toxic monarch caterpillars? Shining cuckoo The pure, whistling call of the shining cuckoo is New Zealand’s harbinger of spring. This small cuckoo is one of our few migratory landbirds, spending the winter on tropical islands east of Papua New Guinea,… Read more »

Critters of Taumaka (Open Bay Islands)

  • Taumaka skink (Oligosoma taumakae) on Taumaka, September 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Red admiral butterfly (Vanessa gonerilla) on Taumaka, September 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Red admiral butterfly (Vanessa gonerilla) on Taumaka, September 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Taumaka gecko (Mokopirirakau undescribed species) on Taumaka, September 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Taumaka is a 20 ha Māori-owned island lying about 4 km off the South Westland coast. Our visit to the island last month was to track foraging trips of breeding tawaki / Fiordland crested penguins, and was undertaken with the permission and support of the Taumaka me Popotai Trust. The island has a large New… Read more »

A new species of fern for New Zealand, Asplenium lepidotum

The abundance of scales on the upper surface of young fronds is a distinguishing feature for Asplenium lepidotum.  These scales appear as black dots.  Photo by Leon Perrie.  © Te Papa.

Finding and naming new species is a core part of the job for Te Papa’s scientists.  More than 2500 animal and plant species have been named by museum staff since 1865.  A recent example is the fern Asplenium lepidotum, described by myself and Pat Brownsey.  This brings the number of indigenous ferns and lycophytes in… Read more »

Botanic gardens: our outdoor museums and why they matter

Hobbits enjoying the hobbit hole at the Oldenburg Botanic Garden. Sept 2016. Photo by Heidi Meudt.

My name is Heidi Meudt and I’m a Research Scientist in Botany at Te Papa, currently doing taxonomic research on New Zealand’s native forget-me-nots. As part of my job, I attend scientific conferences in New Zealand and overseas. Over the course of my botany travels during September, I’ve managed to visit five botanic gardens in three different… Read more »

Botany travels: representing New Zealand around the world

Group photo at the International Boraginales Conference, just outside the Nees Institute, University of Bonn, Germany, where it was held. Sept 2016.

My name is Heidi Meudt and I’m a Research Scientist in Botany at Te Papa, currently doing taxonomic research on New Zealand’s native forget-me-nots. As part of my job, I occasionally attend scientific conferences in New Zealand and overseas. I’ve blogged before about some of the reasons that international conferences are important for those of us doing… Read more »

Life through a burrowscope lens (Part 7) – subterranean Taumaka (Open Bay Islands)

  • A fairy prion on its nest, as seen through a burrowscope, Taumaka, September 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A little penguin on its nest (eggs concealed), as seen through a burrowscope, Taumaka, September 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A fur seal pup as seen through a burrowscope, Taumaka, September 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A tawaki incubating its two eggs, as seen through a burrowscope, Taumaka, September 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

A Te Papa research team visited Taumaka, 4 km off the South Westland coast last month as part of a project investigating why some New Zealand seabirds breed in winter. Our focus while on Taumaka was tawaki / Fiordland crested penguin and korora / little penguin, and was undertaken with the permission of Taumaka me… Read more »

Fascinating forget-me-not pollen

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Now that springtime is upon us in New Zealand, many plants are starting to flower, producing pollen. Many of us have a negative association with pollen due to its role in causing allergies [PDF, 172KB]. But not all pollen causes allergies, and pollen is of course extremely important to the biology and ecology of flowering plants. Some… Read more »