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…

What’s wrong with DNA barcoding?

In many sci fi tv series or movies there is a point at which a starship arrives at a new planet. The captain usually says something like “Scan for life forms” and the science officer is able to push a few buttons and give a nice report on the life…

Different flavours of jelly: species diversity in bluebottles

When I was a kid growing up in South Otago, my family would go to the Rosebank Lodge for a meal on special occasions, especially around Christmas. One of the highlights was the special parfait dishes with traffic light jellies in them, suitably festive with their red then orange then…

Telling your world’s smallest penguin from your fluffiest kitten (and some taxonomy)

Names are extremely important in our lives. Giving something a name allows us to collect knowledge about that something. The something becomes part of our world. Something to interact with now and later. In biology names are just as important. We wouldn’t get far if we had to talk about…

Of questionable character

It is almost election time here in New Zealand. This year we have been spared much of the usual hoo hah because of the recent (and spectacularly successful) Rugby World Cup dominating the news as well as the Canterbury earthquakes before that. One of the tasks that we will have…

Life above our heads – the invertebrate fauna of West Coast rata canopy

This blog post was written by postgraduate student Andrea Honig as part of the course, Research Methods in Ecology (Ecol 608). Kathrin Affeld did not choose an ordinary topic for her PhD thesis at Lincoln University. She and her team of scientists carried out a research project on the invertebrate…

Geraniums: New New Zealand diversity

Geranium aff. microphyllumPhoto by Mollivan Jon Geraniums are a common plant genus with more than 400 species worldwide. New Zealand has its own share of species with seven native species and nine introduced species. There is, however, a reasonable level of variation within some of the native species, including variants…

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…