Sealed with a kiss: mouth fauna of NZ fur seals

I have a watch that I often wear. This watch has an old TV test pattern on the dial. [TV test pattern? Showing my age, I need to explain to those younger than 35… Back in the day, television only broadcast from morning till around midnight. It then closed down (with the…

Native plants bring all the (wana)bees to the yard

Pollination is a vital service that many insect species do us the honour of performing. Pollinators allow us to enjoy the many different flowers, fruits and vegetables that grow as a result. In New Zealand the exotic honey bee (Apis mellifera), along with the bumblebee, is the most abundant pollinator….

Keeping Happy Feet: The keys to breeding success of the white-flippered penguins

Over the hill and not too far away you can find the charming seaside town of Akaroa. With its rich Maori, French and British colonial history, stunning views and relaxed atmosphere this is a popular location for locals and tourists alike. For the more relaxed visitor, there are numerous restaurants…

The leopard, the which? and the wardrobe

There are very few lions in New Zealand. Or leopards. Or tigers. In fact, the only big cats that we have are, well, big cats. Once, when I was about 10, three circus lions escaped in the small town of Lawrence, not far from where I grew up. Or you…

Insect: Endgame

With a snap of our fingers, humans have doomed 40% of the world’s insects. Move over Thanos there is a new villain in town. A newly published international report found that 40% of the world’s insects are declining and could be extinct in a few decades! This collapse in the…

Of marbled cats and wedding hats

Recently, Julie and I shared our 25th wedding anniversary. It was a startling reminder of the onrushing progress of time. Sure, plenty has happened in those 25 years, children have been born and graduated from university, pets have come and gone, hundreds of students have been taught, research has been…

An ode to Mt Kaputar National Park: A little piece of New Zealand in a wide, brown land

Tim Curran is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Pest-management and Conservation at Lincoln University. Here he shares his passion for a little bit of New Zealand in Australia. Mt Kaputar National Park, in northern New South Wales, is my favourite national park, for several reasons. First, there is…

A weevil of Earthsea: Finding the true name for the fourth beetle

“For magic consists of this, the true naming of a thing.” A Wizard of Earthsea – Ursula le Guin Names are important. Without names, things are just stuff. With names, things are individuals. Individuals have pasts, they have futures. We can care about named things. When it comes to biodiversity,…

The iNatural selection? A tool for biodiversity monitoring by community-based groups in NZ

With increasing environmental change, more people are volunteering or becoming members of biodiversity community groups. These people care about the environment, such as biodiversity, pest control, nature observation and especially restoration of areas. In recent decades, many wild areas in New Zealand have benefited from some short or long-term restoration…

Mānuka: defending grapevines from fungal attack

Leptospermum scoparium, known as tea tree or mānuka, is native to Australia and New Zealand. This iconic plant has been historically used across several industries, including honey production, meat seasoning, and in the pharmaceutical industry as an essential oil for medicinal use. However, there is another potential use related to…