The Notorious Nestor notabilis: Conservation of the Clever Kea

Hiking the Edwards-Hawdon Route in Arthur’s Pass National Park a few weeks ago, I had my first encounter with the majestic, yet devious, kea (Nestor notabilis). While stopping to catch my breath, a curious kea hopped over to greet me. I was thrilled to see this beautiful bird for the first…

Cover story: Penguins behaving badly

After 24 years I have finally completed my PhD after starting my research on penguins and other seabirds in 1990. Oh I was awarded my PhD in 1994 but the final piece of research from that study was published this week in the journal Cladistics. Just to match the gravitas of…

On the value of ecology

I often find that I have to comment on the value of ecology. One gets the sense when talking to some people that they wonder why we need to bother with ecology. Surely there are more pressing issues and more immediate uses of limited funds? This has been particularly true…

Getting out and about, it depends on how dense you are

In which we look at how possum home range is influenced by density. I have just been home for lunch and found an infestation of 16 year old boys at my house. Most had just completed their last school exam for the year and come to see my son and…

Southern Accent, Penguin descent

There is a great song by Tom Petty which I always find moving. ‘Southern Accent’ conveys the longing to be back home with kith and kin when you are living away – summed up by ‘there’s a southern accent, where I come from’. Having grown up on a sheep farm…

A Burning Issue for Magpies

This article was prepared by postgraduate student Laura Hollerbach as part of the ECOL 608 Research Methods in Ecology course. The Azure-Winged Magpie (Cyanopica cyanus) occurs over wide parts of Asia and Iberia. The species, unhesitatingly described by Haojin Tan (Jin) as “pretty loud and noisy” has been studied throughout…

Local flasher ignored

Figuring out which animals are present in an area can be a difficult task. We often need to count local populations of endangered or pest species or check to see if certain individuals are present. Sometimes we can simply go out and count but often the terrain makes this impossible…

Are two heads better than one? Kokakos and playback responses

This blog post was written by postgraduate student Jetzabel Gross as part of the course, Research Methods in Ecology (Ecol 608). A Kōkako (Callaeas cinereus). Taken at Mt BruceWildlife Centre, New Zealand.Photo by Doug Mak The perception of reality is different for each animal species and communication can be a…

New poisons for rat control

New Zealand has many problems with introduced mammalian pest species like rats. Rats are present in such vast numbers that the most common means of control is in poisoning wild populations. There has been a great deal of work put in to finding more effective and humane ways to poison…

A tough decision for mum

This blog post was written by postgraduate student Haojin (Jin) Tan as part of the course, Research Methods in Ecology (Ecol 608).