Past Events

Seaweed communities – Responses to invasion, climate change and nutrients

Wednesday 14th of April 2021, 05:20 PM (3 weeks ago)

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

Speakers: Gaby Keeler-May, Isla Twigg, Ben Williams, and Nam Chand. This month we have a series of short talks from four Marine Science PhD students.

Gaby Keeler-May is assessing the impacts of the invasive kelp, Undaria pinnatifida, in the subtidal rocky reefs of southern New Zealand. Her focuses are to compare invasive and native seaweed contributions to the total biomass of kelp forest ecosystems, to evaluate the distribution and expansion of Undaria at sites of past and recent introductions, and to determine the impact of Undaria on native kelp abundance and its ability to resettle after large-scale removal.

Isla Twigg’s research revolves around the microbial communities of kelp forests. She is interested in how the productivity of different microbial communities changes with environmental conditions, and between species of macroalgae. This involves tracking seasonal patterns in environmental conditions and bacterial productivity, as well as experiments exposing these microbial communities to different types of stress. Nam Chand will discuss her research on the community habitat and ecophysiology of soft sediment red macroalgal communities in Otago Harbour, with a focus on the red endemic macroalgae Adamsiella chauvinii. Specifically the research investigates the algal habitat community and epifauna composition within A. chauvinii meadows. Moreover, it will also assess the nitrogen uptake by A. chauvinii and other dominant algae within its meadows.

Ben Williams’ will talk about the trends in kelp forest decline in New Zealand driven by climate change and anthropogenic stressors. He will also discuss the future for kelp forest reseeding and how this can be used to rebuild degraded fisheries.

Quoin Point

Saturday 10th of April 2021, 08:30 AM (4 weeks ago)

Contact: Robyn Bridges | robyn.j.bridges@gmail.com | (03) 472 7330 / 021 235 8997

Quoin Point. This trip offers another opportunity (a previous field trip has been to the mouth of the Akatore River) to look at the distinctive plant communities defined as coastal turfs. These salt tolerant (halophytic) plants are made up of low growing (generally less than 50mm in height), herbs, sedges and grasses, and are well adapted to living in the exposed marine shoreline locations, like this one on the southern Otago coast. Contact Robyn Bridges 021 235 8997.

Weekend Field Trip to Mahu Whenua

Saturday 27th of March 2021, 07:00 AM (1 month ago)

Contact: Matt Larcombe | matt.larcombe@otago.ac.nz | 027 919 9709

27-28th March 2021: Weekend Field Trip to Mahu Whenua. This trip will allow us to explore the flora of a spectacular part of Central Otago not typically accessible to the public. The Mahu Whenua landscape is in the midst of a huge transformation from farmland to conservation land and supports a number of interesting remnant and transitional vegetation types as well as a many rare species including Olearia lineata, Alepis flavida, Sonchus novae-zelandiae, Pachycladon cheesemanii, Carmichaelia crassicaulis ssp. crassicaulis, Azorella exigua, Carex lachenalii ssp. parkeri and Carex enysii. There will be a number of options associated with this trip which will suit all interests and abilities. We will depart Dunedin at 07:00 on Saturday, arriving at the hut where we will have lunch at ~13:30. In the afternoon we will explore the beech forest and shrublands up Highland Creek. Depending on interest a group may also head up above the bushline.

Sunday options include:

  • remaining at Highland Creek hut to continue exploring that area,
  • heading up the expansive Motatapu Valley via 4WD to explore beech patches, tussock and shrublands,
  • and visiting a spectacular high alpine patterned wetland. This last option includes helicopter flights, which will need to be paid for in advance. There will be a maximum of four people + guide (Cara-Lisa) and the cost will be $260 for the return flight.

We will be leaving at 13:00 and will stop for afternoon tea in Alexandra on our way back to Dunedin. The trip will be taking a maximum of 20 people (you must be a BSO member). You will need to provide your own breakfast, lunch and snacks. Dinner will be a potluck/BBQ. We will be camping next to a hut with toilet and cooking facilities, so you will need to BYO sleeping arrangements (tent/mat/bag etc.). Please register your interest with Matt Larcombe (matt.larcombe@otago.ac.nz, 027 919 9709) by the 22nd March.

End Peak wetlands

Wednesday 10th of March 2021, 05:20 PM (1 month ago)

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

End Peak wetlands. Speaker: Cara-Lisa Schloots, Masters student, Botany Department. The End Peak wetland complex is situated within the Mahu Whenua covenants near Wanaka at approximately 1800 m a.s.l. in a south facing basin. It has a variety of vegetation types including uncommon species and a number of plants not typically found at such high altitudes. It is a fine example of a southern hemisphere patterned wetland, and a unique system about which very little is known. My Masters project was carried out over the five months of summer 2018-19 when the wetland complex was free of snow. Cameras were set up at six locations to record water level throughout the growing season from mid-December 2018 until mid-May 2019. Water level patterns were found to vary largely within the wetland complex, although some seasonal changes were observed across all sites. Transects were used to investigate standing vegetation and the seed bank. Plant assemblages also varied across the wetland, although some species were present at all locations. These patterns were related to water level regimes at respective sites. From this we can see that even relatively small wetland areas can contain a remarkable variety of environments and communities, and it is unlikely that such an area will respond as one unit to the climatic changes that are taking place. There will be specific areas and communities within the system which are more threatened, in particular those sites which currently experience more stable conditions and are not adapted to as extreme environmental fluctuations.

Weekend Field Trip to the Oteake Conservation Park

Friday 12th of February 2021, 06:00 PM (2 months ago)

Contact: David Lyttle | djl1yttle@gmail.com | (03) 454 54750

Weekend Field Trip to the Oteake Conservation Park. We plan to stay at the DOC Homestead Camp Site, Hawkdun Runs Road. The camp site has stunning views of the Hawkdun Range. The facilities are basic so you will need to bring a tent. You are responsible for providing your own food but plan to bring a meal for Saturday evening to share with the group. There are a number of tracks accessible from the Homestead Camp Site giving access to the Hawkdun Range, the St Bathans Range and the East and West branches of the Manuherikia River. The vegetation of the Oteake Conservation Park is diverse and very interesting especially in the alpine zone. There are well-developed screes which have their own specialised flora and a number of species reach their southern limit in the region. Final details will depend on the number of people attending and the number of 4WD vehicles available. We will leave Dunedin on Friday evening and return Sunday afternoon. If you wish to go on this trip please contact David Lyttle (03) 454 5470 email djl1yttle@gmail.com

Petrified Forests of Zealandia

Wednesday 10th of February 2021, 05:20 PM (2 months ago)

Contact: Matt Larcombe | matt.larcombe@otago.ac.nz | 027 919 9709

Petrified Forests of Zealandia. Speaker: Mathew Vanner, Department of Geology. This talk explores the history of Zealandia’s forest tree flora from a palaeontological perspective. Forests are our oldest and most persistent ecosystems and New Zealand, the Chathams and Auckland Islands have all yielded identifiable fossil wood from a range of ages and families. The fossils reveal an unbroken line of conifers, including Araucariaceae and Podocarpaceae, from the Jurassic (~170 Ma) to the Miocene (~10 Ma). New records of angiosperms, (Araliaceae, Myrtaceae, and Legumes), appear in the Eocene (~50 Ma) and other taxa (Casuarinaceae) disappear from New Zealand in the Miocene. Wood characters can be used to investigate palaeoclimate and show when key features developed in New Zealand lineages. My talk illustrates the exquisite preservation of fossil wood, the range of information that can be derived from wood features, and the history of many of the distinctive trees currently growing in New Zealand.

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 (5 months ago)

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.

Weekend Field trip to the Hokonui Hills, Southland

Friday 6th of November 2020, 06:00 PM (6 months ago)

Contact: David Lyttle | djl1yttle@gmail.com | (03) 454 54750

Cancelled

Weekend Field trip to the Hokonui Hills, Southland. We plan to stay at the Dunsdale Recreation Reserve, which is near the township of Hedgehope southwest of Gore. The facilities are basic so you will need to bring a tent. You are responsible for providing your own food but plan to bring a meal for Saturday evening to share with the group. A track from the campground gives access to the Hokonui Forest where there is some interesting riparian forest along the Dunsdale Stream. Expect to see several species of orchid and some impressive specimens of the rare Coprosma, Coprosma wallii. Other places that we can visit are Forest Hill Scenic Reserve and Croydon Bush Scenic Reserve. We will leave Dunedin on Friday evening and return Sunday afternoon. If you wish to go on this trip please contact David Lyttle (03) 454 5470 email djl1yttle@gmail.com

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

Wednesday 14th of October 2020, 05:20 PM (6 months ago)

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?

Trotters Gorge Exploration

Saturday 3rd of October 2020, 09:00 AM (7 months ago)

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.

Field trip to Karitane

Saturday 19th of September 2020, 09:00 AM (7 months ago)

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.

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

Wednesday 16th of September 2020, 06:00 PM (7 months ago)

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

Location: Castle 1 Lecture Theatre

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 (no drinks or nibbles due to covid)

Members night

Wednesday 19th of August 2020, 05:20 PM (8 months ago)

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

Due to Covid-19 this meeting will be held via zoom. The zoom invite will be emailed to members a 2 days before the meeting.

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.

Field trip to Tavora Reserve, North Otago

Saturday 11th of July 2020, 09:00 AM (9 months ago)

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.

Silken harp chords and the green choir

Wednesday 8th of July 2020, 05:20 PM (10 months ago)

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!