Because of their modest flowers and small size, New Zealand epiphytic orchids are rarely talked about and even more rarely studied. This is about to change as summer research intern Joe Dillon (Victoria University of Wellington) spends his summer at Te Papa and Ōtari Wilton’s Bush native botanic garden researching an
Massey University student Hayden Jones and Botany Curator Carlos Lehnebach are launching a citizen science project aiming at solving the identity crisis that surrounds one of our most common terrestrial orchids and your observation could provide the clue to solving this taxonomic imbroglio. Maikuku – the white sun orchid (Thelymitra
During our recent Botany Blitz where we were cracking open boxes that have been patiently waiting to be processed and databased, we catalogued many specimens, learned new things about our collections, and discovered many fascinating stories along the way. Botany Curator Heidi Meudt talks about delving into a folder of
New DNA research by Science Researcher Lara Shepherd and Vertebrate Curators Colin Miskelly and Alan Tennyson has revealed parallel evolution in the small seabirds called prions. This unexpected result requires recognition of an eighth species of prion. Their research also revealed that all the birds formerly known as ‘fulmar prions’ are endemic to Aotearoa New Zealand. This means that we have gained two additional endemic bird species, and Australia has lost a breeding species.
This month, Curator Vertebrates Alan Tennyson and the Department of Conservation’s Johannes Fischer, published a scientific paper that clarified the identity of a common subantarctic seabird. Alan explains why this was necessary and what a surprising and incredible history this research revealed.
Museums are magical places where time travel happens almost on a daily basis and getting to know what our ancestors and their acquaintances were up to in the 1800s is not so far a reach. Botany Curator Carlos Lehnebach describes how the discovery of a box full of seed packets stored at Te Papa brought a botanist, a nurseryman and his great-great-granddaughter together more than a century later.
Taxonomic research involves a number of aspects, including field trips, lab work, studying and comparing live plants (in the field or glasshouse) or pressed specimens, and reading previous scientific papers. Not to mention analyzing and interpreting the data, incorporating previously published research, and writing up the results for publication. Sometimes, such research forms the basis of a post-graduate thesis (Master’s or PhD). Curator Botany Heidi Meudt talks about one student’s journey.
New research published by Jessie Prebble and colleagues resolves the taxonomy (naming and classification) of a group of small native forget-me-nots in the southern hemisphere. The new data show that some of these plants require different names. Curator Botany Heidi Meudt discusses what this means for their names.
In January 2022, our Botany Curator Heidi Meudt went on a chock-a-block seven-day field trip to Southland with Department of Conservation botanist Brian Rance and several others. The aim of this trip was to collect several species of forget-me-nots growing in the ultramafic Livingstone Mountains and nearby hills. Heidi talks about what they were looking for and the environment the forget-me-nots were growing in.
The process of collecting and identifying an organism is long and stringent. Despite this, mistakes can still be commonplace. Lorenzo Ravalo is a contractor working with us as a Natural History Technician and takes us through some of the challenges faced in keeping up to date with taxonomy. Identifying an