Change under our toes

Grazed tussocklandOriginally uploaded by pluckytree Tussock dominated grasslands are an integral part of New Zealand’s native vegetation. Ecologically, they do not only harbor a large diversity of grasses, shrubs, small woody and herbaceous plants, but also give home to insects, reptiles and birds. Influenced by climatic conditions and land management…

Summer Scholarships

The Agriculture and Life Sciences Faculty at Lincoln University, including the Department of Ecology, is offering summer research scholarships over the summer vacation, valued at $5,000 each (tax free). The scholarship will last for 10 weeks. Scholarships will be awarded based on academic merit. So if you want to work…

A really lousy day!

You won’t usually see us evolutionary and ecological researchers driving around in a Ferrari, holidaying at tropical resorts or dining at the best establishments. But, hey, there are some perks! I am now the proud namesake of a bird louse species. Out there at this very moment crawling over the…

On the beach: plant communities in dune systems

Sand dune habitats are found all around the world. Sandy coasts are ever-changing with the interactions between climate, geology and vegetation. Dune habitats have to contend with storm surges, wind and rain and human impacts. Considering how important these areas are to human activities it is surprising that so little…

A tough decision for mum

NZ Fur sealPhoto by Kerry-Jayne Wilson, Lincoln University. Pinnipeds are a widely distributed and highly diverse group of semi-aquatic marine mammals. These animals are unique in a sense that although they spend a lot of time in water, they have to come up on land to breed, moult and rest….

Effluent bacteria lives and escapes….. sometimes

Dairy Cows have been getting a hard time in the media with catch phrases of ‘dirty dairying’ and ‘green streams’. But are scientists testing the impacts of land based effluent application on the natural New Zealand environment? It is, after all a natural product. What harm can it really do…

Kānuka vs. gorse, the battle is on!

Ulex europaeusPhoto by Mollivan Jon There is a struggle going on in the New Zealand forest, and it’s a battle for ultimate (plant) domination. Kānuka (Kunzea ericoides) and mānuka (Leptospermum scoparium) were the original plant species that colonised forest sites cleared by natural disturbances in New Zealand. This has changed…

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…