Talking about the drowning

I had the unnerving experience of watching myself give a conference presentation yesterday. In February I attended the BioEd Darwin 200 conference held in Christchurch, New Zealand and gave a talk in the teaching evolution symposium entitled “Drowning Zealandia, flying moa, ancient mammals: teaching the controversies from current New Zealand…

Reining in a bolting horse, kiwi(fruit) style

wild kiwifruit Originally uploaded by Mollivan Jon There are a lot of doom and gloom stories in plant biosecurity in New Zealand. There are now more naturalised vascular plant species than native species and the invasion has yet to slow, fueled by the large diversity of ornamental garden plants. New…

Grape expectations

In most parts of the world bird foraging causes much damage in vineyards in the weeks leading up to harvest. If not protected, grape yield can be reduced to zero and bird pecks can induce molds to reduce the quality of the resulting wine. Bird control is therefore a high…

CSI: Native Forest

It had been murder pure and simple. He surveyed the scene with a professional eye. Babies taken while mum was away. Vanished. No hope of return. Who would do such a thing? Those dirty rats? The feral ferrets? Maybe the sadistic stoats? And those pesky possums were always a concern….

The thin red line

As far as dangerous beasts go, New Zealand is probably the safest place on earth! While other countries can boast of super venomous snakes, small fish with razor-sharp teeth, or horrible parasites that dig through your skin we can only shuffle uncomfortably and mention our poisonous spider. Which killed at…

The effectiveness of the gorse seed weevil and gorse pod moth

Ulex europaeusOriginally uploaded by Mollivan Jon Gorse (Ulex europaeus) is a prickly shrub that is the number one weed in New Zealand. Due to the favourable climate in New Zealand, in a short time gorse was producing a lot of seeds to store in the seed banks. To combat this…

Gorse seed production and viability

Gorse (Ulex europaeus) produces many seeds per season which can be viable for a long period, especially if the seed is buried underground. In the more temperate climate areas gorse has two reproductive periods per season. Craig Sixtus, who was studying gorse for his master’s degree, investigated gorse seed viability…

Phenology of Cydia succedana

Most people know that gorse is a major prickly problem weed. Gorse (Ulex europaeus) was introduced to New Zealand as a stock food and hedge material. However, our climate suited it and in a lot of New Zealand there were two reproductive periods. In a short period there were a…

The oceanic islands of continental New Zealand

It would seem like a no-brainer to suggest that New Zealand is made up of a group of oceanic islands. After all, New Zealand IS a group of islands set in, what can only be described as ocean; with plenty of it in all directions. However, most descriptions about the…

It helps to know the local lingo but don’t expect the natives to be friendly

native and naturalised senecios, side by sideOriginally uploaded by Mollivan Jon Charles Darwin first puzzled over whether native species would help or hinder the invasion of related exotic species. Do natives make it hard for related invading exotic species to get established? Distantly related invaders might have an advantage in…