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I’ve been to Evolution 2009

Well the meeting is done. The talk is given. The t-shirt is purchased. I’m mooching about Moscow, Idaho ahead of my long flight back to New Zealand tomorrow. 1200 evolutionary biologists, mainly from the States, gathered here at the University of Idaho over the last week to discuss all things…

New Zealand Seeking: Seabird Enthusiasts

Pitt island shagPhoto by Kerry-Jayne Wilson,Lincoln University. There are over 80 breeding species of seabirds in the New Zealand region and one of them, the Pitt island shag (left), is also endangered. Nearly half are endemic, meaning they are found only in New Zealand. A special report on the current…

Measuring the productivity of threatened-species programmes

TuataraOriginally uploaded by beedieu Out of the 7–20 million species believed to be on the planet, a loss ranging between 140,000– 5 million is projected over the next 25 years. Efforts to avert this situation are present but the challenge has been on how to evaluate the effectiveness of these…

Flower power and its effects on the biocontrol activity of an omnivorous insect

Omnivorous insects are interesting and important beings, consuming both plant and animal matter. In agroecosystems they have been identified as potential biological control agents since they eat pest insects. Micromus tasmaniae, the brown lacewing, was the subject of a recent study, by Katherine Robinson and colleagues at Lincoln University (see…

Is Rangatira Island’s status as a wildlife sanctuary threatened by burrowing seabirds?

Rangatira Island, part of the Chatham Islands group situated off the east coast of New Zealand, is a conservation priority in New Zealand due to its importance as a seabird breeding colony and a haven for threatened species. This includes birds endemic to the Chatham Islands and most importantly, the…

Moscow bound!

Yes I am off to Moscow. Idaho! The annual Evolution conference is being held there this year. The conference is always a great event for members of the societies that produce the journals Systematic Biology, Evolution and American Naturalist. Usually there is a great New Zealand turn-out (indeed NZ was…

Will nature sort itself out?

“At worst, the current practice of founding new populations of endangered species with such small numbers of founders may be inducing widespread reproductive failure and hastening their extinction.” Briskie & Mackintosh 2004 Orange-fronted parakeet(Cyanoramphus malherbi),found only in New Zealand,& classified nationally critical.Photo by Frances Schmechel Will the Anthropocene era be…

Weta accommodation popular, long-drops included!

What is the plight of the Banks Peninsula tree weta, Hemideina ricta, the rarest tree weta in New Zealand? The Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust helped Lincoln University contact over 40 enthusiastic landowners keen to know if they had weta on their patch. The resulting Weta Watchers group has helped put…

BioBlitz Lincoln 2009: 1637 species in 24 hours!

On the 3–4 April 2009 hundreds of people gathered at the Liffey Stream in Lincoln to experience the chaos of exploration and discovery that is a BioBlitz. This 24 hour scientific race against time and educational event was held in conjunction with Lincoln Envirotown, Lincoln University and Landcare Research. The…

Tui are back! Returning Banks Peninsula’s lost birds

The modern Canterbury PlainsOriginally uploaded by Mollivan Jon The lowlands of Canterbury, New Zealand, have gone through about as complete an ecological transformation as can be imagined. Before Polynesian settlers arrived, around 800 years ago, the Canterbury lowlands were cloaked with diverse native forest. By the time European settlers arrived,…