It’s in the trees! (no it’s not)

Many tonnes of bait containing the poison 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) are dropped on native forests every year in New Zealand to control possum numbers. ERMA (the Environmental Risk Management Authority) has recently reassessed the use of this compound and found that it is still the most useful poison that we…

Life on a southern beech

sooty black beech forestOriginally uploaded by Mollivan Jon The southern beeches of New Zealand (Nothofagus species) make up a major forest-type which is extensive throughout the North and South Islands. Studies in beech forests usually focus on the roles of the trees as canopy for forest-floor ecosystems. A new study…

The fall and rise of New Zealand

There are two things that we know for certain about the geological history of New Zealand. First, the land area that is now modern New Zealand was part of Gondwanaland until about 83 million years ago. Second, modern New Zealand is isolated from other large landmasses by thousands of kilometres…

Our favourite plants, next generation’s weeds?

Kelly checks her cloversOriginally uploaded by Mollivan Jon New Zealand’s agricultural, horticultural, and forestry industries are battling an increasing number of weed species that reduce their productivity. Similarly, wildlands in New Zealand, like in many parts of the world, are coming under increasing pressure from invasive plants (weeds) that harm…

Why didn’t the Pukeko cross the road?

We all know the joke about the chicken crossing the road. It’s probably up there with “What time is it when an elephant sits on your fence?” as one of the earliest jokes you learn as a kid. There is a serious side to road crossing, however. Roads are a…

Fairy penguins of Oz

The blue penguin (Eudyptula minor) is found around New Zealand’s coastlines and in many parts of south-eastern and western Australia (where they are sometimes known as fairy penguins). Over the years there have been many different suggestions put forward to explain the regional variations seen throughout the range of this…

The different meanings of ‘Gondwanan’

Tuatara, leiopelmatid frogs, weta (Orthoptera), peripatus (Onychophora), southern beech (Nothofagus) and kauri (Agathis australis) and other New Zealand species are often referred to as Gondwanan taxa. What does this mean? Gondwanaland was a large landmass made up of the southern continents that slowly broke apart through Jurassic and Cretaceous time….