The side effects of climate change you probably haven’t heard about

Climate change: the biggest environmental challenge of our time. It is impossible to escape the ongoing climate change debate. A quick google search of “climate change” when writing this blog generated 136 news articles from over the past 24 hours. It is clearly a very talked about issue and for…

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…

A range of different ferns

The fern is emblematic of New Zealand, appearing on most of our national sports teams and as a default for our nonofficial flag. The fern seems like a good choice to represent the people and places on our shaky islands. Ferns are unassuming, green and not flashy, getting their ecosystems…

Fire on the mountain: habitat flammability changes over decades

“Close to, the fire on the mountain was very much more alarming than it had seemed from a distance. They could smell it now, and hear it; smell the smoke more bitter than a farm bonfire; hear the soft, dreadful sound of flames consuming the bracken, like paper crumpled in…

Ready to fire: flammability traits may allow manuka to dominate

Marley Hill, Port Hills, ablaze CC-By-NC Jon Sullivan Some of my strongest memories are associated with fire. There is the satisfaction of splitting and stockpiling wood for the winter. The excitement of giant bonfires on Guy Fawkes Night and at parties growing up (especially the massive one we had on our…

What’s up with NZ sand dune habitats? Do a PhD and find out

Opportunity for PhD study: Quantifying ecosystem function in New Zealand sand dune habitats Understanding causes of variation in ecosystem function is critical for conserving and restoring ecosystems in the face of global change processes, such as climate change, land use change and species invasions. Key functions of sand dune ecosystems…

What’s up with alpine tussock grasslands? Do a PhD and find out!

A great deal of our ecological understanding of community patterns and processes is based on ‘snap-shot’ and short-term datasets. Research using long-term and time series data shows that community datasets collected over longer periods of time can be critical for predicting change. We are looking to recruit one or more…

Don’t disturb the New Zealanders: our effect on native plants

Although the 40-hour long flight to New Zealand was long and tiring, it took me no longer than an hour to be surprised by how many European plants there were in Christchurch. Some of my favorite plants from home flower were here in abundance. At the same time, it is…

Habitat invasion in the Southern Alps: why no forest-orcs in Middle-earth?

I guess I was always destined to spend my life in evolution and ecology. I distinctly remember from an early age, as I read through The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, worrying about the orcs. Not whether they are scary and nasty, that was a given, but rather how they…

Measuring the burn!

Fire. Even in the 21st century fire remains an important part of our lives. This week I spent several hours stacking firewood ahead of the coming winter. On some of the recent less windy days we have been surrounded by plumes of smoke as farmers burn off their cereal stubble. …