Future Events

Talks are held at the Zoology Benham Building, 346 Great King Street, behind the Zoology car park by the Captain Cook Hotel. Use the main entrance of the Benham Building to get in and go to the Benham Seminar Room, Rm. 215, 2nd floor. Please be prompt as we have to hold the door open.

Trips leave from the Department of Botany car park.

Weekend trip to the Catlins.

Saturday 19th of October 2019, 09:00 AM (4 days from now)

Contact: John Barkla | jbarkla@doc.govt.nz | (03) 476 3686

On this trip we will visit several stunning coastal sites in the northern Catlins including Jacks Bay and blowhole, Pounawea Scenic Reserve, Cannibal Bay and Nugget Point. We’ll encounter coastal rata forest, dune slacks with rare species, shrublands and herbfields. We will depart on Saturday morning and spend Saturday night at the Pounawea Motor Camp http://www.catlins-nz.com/pounawea-motor-camp/ 2.5 km from Owaka. This tranquil camp has cabins and camping sites surrounded by native forest on the edge of an estuary. You are responsible for your own accommodation arrangements and catering. Please let John Barkla know if you are intending to come by Monday 14 October. Travel arrangements will be advised.

Andersons Lagoon

Saturday 2nd of November 2019, 08:30 AM (2 weeks from now)

Contact: John Steel | john.steel@botany.otago.ac.nz | 021 2133170

Andersons Lagoon is a sizeable wetland comprising a shallow lagoon resulting from the formation of a sand dune barrier limiting the egress of the waters of Stony Creek to the sea. The lagoon is contained in a steep-sided valley resulting in some narrow bands of vegetation types along the shore. The track to the lagoon passes through a QEII covenant which was planted with native trees some years ago. The dune system has led to an inland sand spit with primarily exotic species extending from the dunes towards the lagoon, where native wetland plants are more common. The embouchure at the northern end of the dunes is easily crossed and a stairway leads to the top of a cliff from where a pathway leads to the mouth of the Shag River. A seldom visited area and well worth the trip. Leave the Botany Department car park at 8.30 a.m.

Assessing the ecological consequences of extinction: are flightless birds important seed dispersers in New Zealand?

Wednesday 13th of November 2019, 05:20 PM (4 weeks from now)

Contact: Gretchen Brownstein | brownsteing@landcareresearch.co.nz

Speaker: Jo Carpenter, Postdoctoral Researcher, Manaaki Whenua-Landcare Research

Understanding the mutualistic services that species provide is essential when assessing the consequences of their local or global extinction. New Zealand historically harboured ~27 species of flightless land birds, of which 67% are now extinct, and the mutualist services these taxa provided are still unclear. Five large-seeded endemic tree species (Elaeocarpus dentatus, E. hookerianus, Prumnopitys ferruginea, P. taxifolia, Vitex lucens) appear partially adapted for seed dispersal by flightless birds, leading to speculation that they may once have been dispersed by moa. However, coprolite (fossilised faeces) evidence demonstrates that moa actually functioned largely as seed predators. So who does disperse these strange seeds? My PhD research shows that a flightless rail, the weka (Gallirallus australis) may be a significant disperser for some of these plants. Weka moved P. ferruginea and E. dentatus seeds similar dispersal distances to kereru (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae), yet the potential contribution of weka to forest regeneration is frequently overlooked by conservationists. Overall, my research demonstrates the importance of critically examining assumptions about which species conduct important ecosystem functions. More broadly, the Pacific has lost >450 rail species in the last 3000 years, which may represent one of the most widespread yet least appreciated losses of dispersal function ever recorded.

Eco-evolutionary stories about plant diversification in New Zealand

Wednesday 19th of February 2020, 05:20 PM (4 months from now)

Contact: Gretchen Brownstein | brownsteing@landcareresearch.co.nz

Speaker: Bill Lee, Manaaki Whenua-Landcare Research.

Plant radiations are a feature of the New Zealand flora and contribute endemic elements to many ecosystems. In this talk I explore what we are learning about the chronology, trait development, ecology and evolution of the modern flora by looking at woody and herbaceous lineages through time. This perspective focuses on distinct lineages and integrates time-calibrated phylogenies with the ecology and distribution of modern species. Immigration, abiotic and biotic selection and geography have all played a role in facilitating species-rich groups, especially after major extinction events and the appearance of new biomes. I will mainly use genera that have come out of the forest into open areas above and below treeline.

Weekend Field Trip to Invercargill

Friday 21st of February 2020, 05:00 PM (4 months from now)

Contact: David Lyttle | djl1yttle@gmail.com | (03) 454 5470

We are planning to visit Invercargill and explore sites of botanical interest there. These weekend trips have proved very popular in the past, especially for out of town members who do not get the opportunity to participate in local field trips. There is a lot of scope as there are many diverse natural areas close to Invercargill. We are planning to base ourselves at one of the local camping grounds. The preferred option at this stage is the Beach Road Holiday Park west of Invercargill, close to Oreti Beach. This is a preliminary notice until plans have been finalised. If you are interested in coming, contact David Lyttle (djl1yttle@gmail.com) ph (03) 454 5470.

New Caledonia: a Botanist’s Paradise

Wednesday 11th of March 2020, 05:20 PM (4 months from now)

Contact: Gretchen Brownstein | brownsteing@landcareresearch.co.nz

Speaker: Peter Johnson, Manaaki Whenua-Landcare Research.

“A Botanist’s Paradise”: so-claimed in an interpretation panel at the Noumea Aquarium. Indeed: a challenging Paradise for a young NZ botanist visiting New Caledonia 40 years ago, accompanying a group of NZ entomologists. My role was to collect plants of interest to the insect people, and get identification help from the resident (French) botanists. This had the additional challenge of understanding, for example, that ‘Not-a-far-goose’ was Nothofagus (5 spp. there). New Caledonia has a flora of some 3000 taxa, compared with c. 2400 in NZ, being mostly woody spp. of rainforest, dry forest, maquis (ultramafic shrubland), and savannah (mostly niaouli, a Melaleuca).

In 1978 I had a camera for black-and-white film, and another for a strict ration of 35mm colour slides. Revisiting New Caledonia in 2019 with a digital camera allowed for many more snapshots, even if winter meant a limited number of plants in flower. But more than enough for a picture show: some of the 13 spp. of Araucaria, one of the 95 Pittosporums, the only other (non-NZ) Xeronema, bracken fern that looks like bracken, filmy ferns that are not quite familiar … and so on. Landscapes of misty montagnes, hillsides affected by mining, machetes, and the matchbox, localities with names like Riviere Bleue, Mont Koghi, and Dumbea. Plus road-signs, graffiti, markets, and cuisine … all in French. Join me for a travelogue. Warning: we’ll be driving on the wrong side of the road.