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.

Silken harp chords and the green choir

Wednesday 8th of July 2020, 05:20 PM (2 days from now)

Contact: Lydia Turley | lydiamturley@gmail.com

Speaker: James Crofts-Bennett. The mutualistic relationship between the plant kingdom and the arachnid order Araneae is remarkable both in nature and how often it is over looked. There is extensive literary coverage on spider abundance and diversity in relation to vegetation texture diversity. So extensive is the research that beyond mere ecological significance, the relationship between spiders and plants has been adapted into agricultural practices! This talk will explore the theory, supporting evidence, then finally practical applications of exploiting this relationship. Research sites range from the William James building green roof to Orokonui ecosanctuary, grassy meadows to glorious podocarp forest and furtive fern villages! Descriptions of tiny tarsal claws guaranteed to make your skin crawl and close encounters with Aciphylla sure to incite sympathetic cringing! Come one, come all and behold the union of silken harp chords and the green choir!

Field trip to Tavora Reserve, North Otago

Saturday 11th of July 2020, 09:00 AM (4 days from now)

Contact: John Barkla | mjbarkla@xtra.co.nz | (03) 476 3686

Tavora is a coastal reserve near Palmerston managed by the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust. Over more than 20 years the Trust has transformed the previously marram covered dunes into a showcase of pingao with many associated threatened species including shore spurge, Cooks scurvy grass and sand tussock. This is augmented with advanced riparian planting alongside the stream leading to the dunes. The reserve also has natural populations of the uncommon Aciphylla subflabellata, Lepidium tenuicaule, and Tupeia antarctica mistletoe hemi-parasitic on ribbonwood trees. We'll do an easy walking circuit of the reserve that takes in all the highlights. Meet at Botany Department carpark at 9am.

Trotters Gorge Exploration

Saturday 15th of August 2020, 09:00 AM (1 month from now)

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

If you are like me, then you’ve driven past the sign post for Trotters Gorge more times than you can count and thought “I really must stop one day for look”. So now is your chance! There are a couple of different environments we will explore, with tracks winding up through kanuka forest to the drier ridgelines and then down into broadleaf forest around the creek. For those who can look past the trees, there are caves (with weta potential) and sea views to be enjoyed. If you would like to come exploring, meet at Botany Department carpark at 9am.

Members night

Wednesday 19th of August 2020, 05:20 PM (1 month from now)

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

Members are invited to bring items of botanical interest to the monthly meeting and talk about them. Items may be short slide shows, books, photographs, plants or any plant related object that has a story attached.

Geoff Baylis lecture: Name changes among New Zealand ferns: the good, the bad, and the ugly?

Thursday 17th of September 2020, 06:00 PM (2 months from now)

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

Speaker: Leon Perrie

Taxonomists often claim they receive insufficient support for their task of describing the world’s biodiversity. But are they their own worst enemies? Their taxonomic outputs often attract the ire of their intended users because of the changes they prescribe to scientific names. We’ve still much to learn about the evolutionary history of life, so some taxonomic change is presumably allowable. But how much change is appropriate, and who decides? Fern and lycophyte taxonomy is currently in a particularly pronounced flux. For instance, the scheme prescribed by the international Pteridophyte Phylogeny Group would have New Zealand with no species of Blechnum, Cyathea, Lycopodiella, Lycopodium, and Trichomanes (changes to c. 20% of the local fern and lycophyte flora!). I’ll discuss my objections to this, given my personal opinion that it is important to minimise taxonomic changes while maintaining a taxonomy that still reflects evolutionary relationships (i.e., monophyly). I’ll include examples of new and renamed species, and lumped and split fern and lycophyte genera, alongside some relevant examples from among New Zealand’s flowering plants. You can decide what’s good, bad, or ugly.

Biography: Leon Perrie is a Curator of Botany at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. His research is focused on the taxonomy and evolutionary history of New Zealand’s ferns and lycophytes, and he has co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications. A current priority is supporting the completion of the fern and lycophyte chapters for the electronic Flora of New Zealand. He also works with Pacific ferns, especially those of New Caledonia, and he occasionally dabbles with flowering plants (e.g., Pseudopanax, Schoenus, Sophora). He was the lead science curator for Te Papa’s recent revamp of its principal natural history exhibition: Te Taiao Nature.

Location: Castle 1, University of Otago (drinks and nibbles starting from 5:15 in the concourse).

Field trip to Karitane

Saturday 19th of September 2020, 09:00 AM (2 months from now)

Contact: Angela Brandt | brandta@landcareresearch.co.nz

Karitane is a site of both historical and natural significance, and much work is being done by Kāti Huirapa Rūnaka ki Puketeraki to restore the riparian and coastal habitat. Further details of the trip still to be confirmed. Meet at Botany Dept carpark at 9am.

A search for the co-evolutionary partner(s) of New Zealand’s sequestrate fungi

Wednesday 14th of October 2020, 05:20 PM (3 months from now)

Contact: Allison Knight | alli_knight@hotmail.com | 027 487 8265

Speaker: Dr Toni Atkinson. New Zealand has long been known as a “land of birds”. The idea that the array of sequestrate fungi found here, many of which are colourful, may have arisen through coevolution with birds was first mooted in mycology around 20 years ago. It seemed a natural progression from the widely accepted hypothesis that New Zealand’s diverse divaricating plants evolved due to selective pressure from the now extinct moa species. The suggestion appears to have been taken up by mycologists, and is becoming part of the story of science in this land. Last year, an international team using high-throughput sequencing techniques to analyse the DNA in moa coprolites, revealed the first real evidence that moa may have eaten fungi. But what happens if we take a fresh look at the whole question? Are moa the most likely coevolutionary partners of our sequestrate fungi, out of all the vertebrate and invertebrate inhabitants of prehistoric New Zealand? In this recently humanised but greatly altered land, it is challenging to hold in mind the relationships that might have played out over evolutionary time. What might we have missed?

The ‘other half’ of New Zealand’s flora: how distinct are the non-native plants from the native?

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

Contact: Angela Brandt | brandta@landcareresearch.co.nz

Speaker: Dr. Angela Brandt, Ecologist, Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research. Non-native species make up about half of New Zealand’s plant species, and those that have naturalised have added 68 families and 650 genera to the New Zealand flora. Non-native plants that are introduced and then naturalise are not a random subset of the global flora, but how distinct are these species from the native flora as a whole? I will give an overview of recent inventories of native and non-native plant species in New Zealand and the challenges involved in documenting the ever-changing composition and distribution of the ‘other half’ of New Zealand’s flora.