Geraniums: New New Zealand diversity

Geranium aff. microphyllumPhoto by Mollivan Jon Geraniums are a common plant genus with more than 400 species worldwide. New Zealand has its own share of species with seven native species and nine introduced species. There is, however, a reasonable level of variation within some of the native species, including variants…

Two bees or not two bees?

The short-haired bumblebee (Bombus subterraneus) is the rarest of four bumblebees introduced to New Zealand from the United Kingdom in the nineteenth century for pollinating clover and other important crops. Recently the same species has gone extinct in the UK, the last recording of it there being in 1988. Not…

Sheltering the homeless spider

Katipo spiderPhoto by Mollivan Jon In the face of degradation of the environment and loss of species biodiversity, there is a call for innovative bio-indicators. New Zealand native spiders have answered it with their usefulness for measuring an ecosystem’s “health.” They can be used to monitor ecological restoration of natural…

Blue penguin population decline on the West Coast: is it caused by low breeding success?

Editor’s note: this is an additional summary and commentary on the West Coast blue penguin story that was reported on last week by Wawrick Allen. Photo by Kerry-Jane Wilson,Lincoln University. Even though blue penguins (Eudyptula minor) are still relatively common on New Zealand’s offshore islands, surveys by the West Coast…

The long subantarctic commute

Although New Zealand has a huge selection of seabirds, and is the centre of diversity for many groups, we are still in a very early stage in understanding the behaviour and ecology of these species (see the recent ecoLincNZ blog post by Jessica Parisi). Mostly this is understandable. Seabirds usually…

The World’s Smallest (& Cutest) Penguin

Little blue penguins (Eudyptula minor) are the smallest penguins in the world and are found throughout New Zealand and southern Australia. They are exceptionally cute and cuddly and attract a vast amount of tourists to breeding colonies at Oamaru and Banks Peninsula, among many others. Unfortunately, since the arrival of…

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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…