Ecology by the numbers

It is probably safe to say that the job description of an ecologist in 2016 is quite different from that of an ecologist back in the 1970’s or 1980’s. Our work today involves computer programs and fancy technology, some of which make our work much easier. But some appear to make…

For the love of field ecology

The first rule for teaching ecology: “Get them outside; early and often”. David Schindler, University of Alberta. Recent commentary on the ECOLOG-L email list (a US-based ecology discussion group) has been lamenting the decline in field ecology training at several (but not all) universities in the US, and noting similar…

How many birds are killed on NZ roads each year?

At last month’s EcoTas13 conference, the joint annual conferences of the New Zealand and Australian Ecological Societies, I presented some preliminary calculations of the number of birds killed on New Zealand roads. I’ve been counting road kill on my bike to work from Christchurch to Lincoln since 2003 so I…

Urban Realities: the contribution of residential gardens to the conservation of urban forest remnants

This blog post was written by postgraduate student Elisabeth Christensen as part of the course, Research Methods in Ecology (Ecol608). Urbanization has destroyed and fragmented natural areas, resulting in decreasing native biodiversity. Fragmented natural areas can only sustain small populations of plants and animals, and these are often vulnerable to…

The World’s Smallest (& Cutest) Penguin

Little blue penguins (Eudyptula minor) are the smallest penguins in the world and are found throughout New Zealand and southern Australia. They are exceptionally cute and cuddly and attract a vast amount of tourists to breeding colonies at Oamaru and Banks Peninsula, among many others. Unfortunately, since the arrival of…

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…

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…