A glass half full of fungi: Something to wine about

  At anytime of the day or night, you can be sure that someone somewhere is enjoying a glass of fruity Sauvignon Blanc, an oaky Chardonnay, or a full-bodied Pinot Noir (Fig. 1). Yes, wine.     This all-time beverage of choice for ancient Romans, aspiring sommelier’s and your average…

Wondering about wandering possums: Understanding possum movement will save our livestock

New Zealand is home to many introduced species, some of which pose threats to the native flora and fauna. One such “invader” is the brushtail possum, a cat-sized and nocturnal marsupial introduced into New Zealand during the Nineteenth Century, for the fur industry. Possums have big impacts not only on the…

Fighting bacteria with bacteria: a novel way of protecting kiwifruit

When people mention brown, round and hairy, kiwifruit aren’t the first thing to appear in the mind’s eye. They are more commonly associated with a vibrant green colour, deliciousness and the final touches on top of a traditional kiwi pavlova. Unfortunately, the recent establishment of a disease novel to New…

The Notorious Nestor notabilis: Conservation of the Clever Kea

Hiking the Edwards-Hawdon Route in Arthur’s Pass National Park a few weeks ago, I had my first encounter with the majestic, yet devious, kea (Nestor notabilis). While stopping to catch my breath, a curious kea hopped over to greet me. I was thrilled to see this beautiful bird for the first…

Craft beers and crafty bugs

I have to admit a certain fondness for craft beers. I particularly like the big tasting American pale ales but will generally try any old thing that I come across. There is certainly a large diversity of craft beers around and it taps into that collector gene that gets you excited…

Balancing the risks and benefits of biological control

Biological control against introduced pests in New Zealand have been used constantly since the late 19th century. However, it is much harder to introduce new agents now due to regulations set by the New Zealand Governments Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), previously known as the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA). Biological control…

Summer success for ballooners: spiders take the high road

New Zealand is renowned for the changes that have been wrought on it by humans.  First by Maori, then by Europeans.  One of the long term changes created by Maori have been the tussock grasslands of Canterbury, Southland and Otago.  The local fauna have adapted and created their own ecosystem.  Over the…

Predafiles: how to solve the problem of pest mammals in NZ

Pest mammal control, in particular the use of 1080, has long been a hot topic in New Zealand. Feratox owner, Jeremy Kerr did an excellent job of reigniting the 1080 debate last year when he threatened to contaminate baby powder with the toxin. The media storm that followed highlighted the polarising nature…

The invasion of Californian Thistle (and how to fight back!)

Since 1878, the dreaded Californian thistle has caused mayhem throughout New Zealand farms! It is very problematic to the country’s pastoral farming systems, costing close to $700 million each year. The invaders have been subjected to a continuous battle with herbicides. This has been an effective, if costly, method of control…

Pickling pork: control of feral pigs with sodium nitrate

Killing animals is certainly not what comes to mind first when you think about nature conservation. Sometimes, however, killing a certain species is necessary to conserve another. One of the species which is killed for the sake of conservation is the feral pig, Sus scrofa. Feral pigs are omnivorous which…