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…

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…