A Prickly Problem: Munching Away on New Zealand’s Worst Pastoral Weed

200 years ago, there were no thistles present in New Zealand. Fast-forward to 2020 and they are just about everywhere. The worst species is Californian thistle (Cirsium arvense), which is estimated to cost almost $700 million in productivity losses per year.  A beetle, recently introduced to New Zealand to help…

The outlook for the Mackenzie Country? Always bunny

You’re driving down a long straight roads of the Mackenzie country. Beautiful mountains and vast tussock land looking all too photogenic and some would even say majestic. And yet there are hectares upon hectares of land that are not being utilised. You wonder, is it caused by a lack of…

Let’s all become Ecologists

Climate change, deforestation and human development. We are living in a rapidly changing world and nature is responding to those changes. It is a crucial part of ecology, and science in general, to understand natural responses, in order to protect and conserve nature. Understanding usually involves several well-trained scientists spending…

A Deadly Seabird Stampede?

When you think of birds in New Zealand’s forests you might imagine a tui serenading you from the treetops, or perhaps the iconic kiwi scurrying through the undergrowth. What probably doesn’t spring to mind is the shrieking of hundreds of thousands of seabirds as they crash-land on the forest floor….

On triumphant penguins and tennis players

I have been a sports-fan all my life. One of my biggest passions is tennis. As a child I played tennis in a small tennis club in Germany. When I think back to this time, many special “tennis sounds” come to my mind. Tennis is a very auditory sport. Close…

Heavy metal remediation: Defusing the ticking chemical bomb

“Conflict” Picture made by San Jose Think about these questions: 1. Do you understand what is meant by heavy metal pollution?2. Do you know which heavy metals cause pollution? 3. Do you know which methods can control and reduce heavy metal pollution? 4. Have you ever had a heavy metal…

A threat to our mighty atmospheric guardians

For my generation, Climate change is a deep and consistent fear of an unavoidable doom. Every day we hear reports of melting icecaps, critters going extinct and magical sea creatures washing up on shore with plastic in their stomachs. For a fledgling female scientist like myself, climate change means more…

Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle threatens palms in the Pacific Region

Coconut is an important crop in Pacific societies. They serve as a source of oil, fiber, food and timber. It is also an important small-holder crop that contributes to food security, improved nutrition, employment and income generation. Production of coconut is affected by the introduction of an invasive pest, the…

Insects gather, and now our watch begins

Above: Dacrycarpus dacrydioides, Lowland Kahikatea in the Riccarton Bush forest remnant. Jon Sullivan (CC BY-NC 2.0) With the final season of Game of Thrones recently completed, it is only fitting for this blog post to be inspired by the greatest TV show of all time (no bias intended). Although attempting to squeeze…

Helping Moths and Butterflies

Moths and butterflies belong to insect order Lepidoptera, which means scaly wing in Greek. This order contains more than 350,000 known species worldwide. They are grouped into about 39 superfamilies depending on forms, behaviours and environment. Only 16 superfamilies are found in New Zealand. 35 out 120 families occur naturally…