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Biological Sciences

Not another COVID eviction story – contested spaces in Christchurch Central City

Tarāpuka adult and nestling at the Armagh St. colony, 2019. Quintessential Christchurch: rubble and road cones
Since 2019, a colony of Tarāpuka|black-billed gulls  – not only critically endangered, but the most endangered gulls in the world -  have taken up residence in the broken remains of an Armagh St. building left to ruins in the Christchurch CBD post-earthquakes. Current plans for the site are to develop a new Catholic Cathedral, and as such, the gulls...

Vote for Bringing Back the Birds in Ngel Nyaki Forest Reserve

Click here to visit eocaconservation.org and vote for Bringing Back the Birds Ngel Nyaki Forest Reserve, an important bird area, sits on the Nigerian/Cameroon border among the rolling hills and grassland of the Mambilla Plateau. It is one of only a few remaining stands of montane forest, and harbours rich and unique biodiversity including species new to science and endangered...

New Zealand’s native conifers

Mixed podocarp forest, Pureora
One of my favourite groups of New Zealand plants are our native conifers. Most people don’t realise that we have 21 described species and two undescribed species. These are spread across ten genera in three of the six global conifer families. And on a land area basis we have far more native species than the UK or mainland Australia,...

Surviving on the edge: why do penguins matter anyway?

Emperor penguins in Antarctica
Emperor penguins depend on sea ice for their survival. Arek Aspinwall describes the impact of global warming on this sensitive Antarctic habitat.

Ōpāwaho/Heathcote River – (Re)connecting catchment communities

The Ōpāwaho (or Heathcote River) is one of two main rivers that weaves its way through Ōtautahi (Christchurch) on its way to the Avon Heathcote Estuary (Ihutai). Once a pristine lowland waterway, and an abundant source of food and resources for Ngāi Tahu, the Ōpāwaho is currently in poor health. While the state of the river has improved since...

The seals of Antarctica – a Twitter story

Public science communication is fundamental to science today. I believe that as scientists we have a duty to communicate our research to the public. Mainly because the public must be able to understand the basics of science to make informed decisions – perhaps the most vivid example of the negative consequences of insufficient communication by scientists and/or the mistrust...

A celebration of spiders

Hypoblemum male
Happy Arachtober, the month of spiders! Dr Fiona Cross, or "Doctor Spider", introduces us to some cute jumping spiders commonly found in New Zealand.

What crawls beneath the surface?

Invertebrate life in New Zealand’s rivers and streams We all know about the kiwi and the kākāpō, but what iconic species are lurking beneath the surface of our rivers and streams? Freshwater invertebrates (animals without a backbone) are amazingly diverse: from taonga species such as kākahi (freshwater mussels) and kōura (crayfish), to insects, worms and snails. Just as forests are home to different animals than...

CAREX: a collaborative approach to waterway rehabilitation

riparian planting
Currently, there is considerable interest around the impacts that agriculture is having on water quality. Nationwide the focus has been on highlighting the issues but little attention has been paid to what the solutions might be. The Canterbury Waterway Rehabilitation Experiment (CAREX)* is a stream restoration project that has focused on finding solutions. CAREX has been running since 2013, designing and trialling...

Botany of the bizarre: the biology of the world’s strangest parasitic plant

Flower of Rafflesia schadenbergiana, third largest flower in the World
The strange parasitic plant genus Rafflesia faces a number of conservation challenges, including habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation. Learning more about these rare species is a crucial step in informing the conservation management of Rafflesia.
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