Thursday, February 14, 2013

NatureWatch NZ hits 10,000 observations in its first 5½ months

Light the fireworks and release the streamers, NatureWatch NZ just blasted past its 10,000th observation added since it launched on 27 August 2012. Our 10,000th new observation was of a New Zealand falcon, made by new user eolsi. The first 10,000 NatureWatch NZ observations were contributed by 209 users, who have added observations of 2,486 species and higher taxa. An impressive 7,137 of these observations include photos, some being the only photos of their species that show up in Google searches.

It's a great start, and just the tip of the iceberg for what we can all contribute to knowledge of NZ nature. Here are some of our favourite treasures and surprises among the 10,000.

Category: What is that weird thing?!

Winner: the pink, stalked slime mould from wbnz’s wood pile in Stewart Island

Honourable mention:
myxonz's alien sub-woofer Plectania fungus.
grahame's "Black Hairy Travis Thing".
jon's Doris the nudibranch.
nikbaines' bird's nest fungus.

Category: Colourful and then some

Winner: the nudibranch Tambja verconis from the Poor Knights observed by land_and_sea

Honourable mention:
gailtv's observation of a sky blue mountain top flatworm (which we still haven't identified).
land_and_sea's observation of the black and electric blue nudibranch Tambja morosa from the Poor Knights.
Category: Is it even there?

Winner: the near invisible rock caterpillar of Dichromodes ida observed by nikbaines

Honourable mention:
thomasjwalsh's observation of the "giant, camouflaged, fortified silverfish" like thing, Nesomachilis.
stho002's observation of the nearly transparent Eucalyptus leaf mining caterpillar, Phylacteophaga froggatti.
jon's observation of the moss moth Lysiphragma howesii.

Category: Most amazing behaviour

Winner: a young bellbird feeding a fledgling silvereye observed by nikbaines

Honourable mention:
Grahame's observation of a pukeko running off with a black swan chick.
steveattwood's skilfully photographed series of observations of a pair of great crested grebes nesting on Lake Forsyth.
tevoleus's observation of a tui singing to its reflection in the window.

Category: Yikes, biosecurity

Winner: a suspiciously Didymo-like green algae observed on Stewart Island, where Didymo is currently absent, by colinmeurk. After people saw this observation, DOC staff went back to the spot to collect some for identification. Luckily, it was something else.

Honourable mention:
land_and_sea's observation of young balloon vine, Cardiospermum grandiflorum, spreading in Northland. This is a weed people are keen to get rid of.
andrewpughnewzealand's observations of the newly arrived potato eating pest, the Hadda beetle, in Auckland. This was first spotted in New Zealand in 2010, unfortunately too late for eradication to be feasible.

Category: The biggest discovery

Winner: the first time the poo moss Tayloria tasmanica had been found outside of Tasmania, and a new addition to the New Zealand moss flora, observed on Stewart Island by colinmeurk

Honourable mention:
nikbaines's observation of peripatus in Dunedin city.
tony_wills's observation of a parasitic erythraeid mite attached to the back end of a kowhai moth. This is the first time mite biologist Rob Cruickshank has heard of a parasitic mite on a caterpillar in New Zealand.
jon's serendipitous observation of a rare golden stag beetle, Mitophyllus foveolatus, on a black beech trunk.

You can clearly see from our first 10,000 NatureWatch NZ observations that New Zealand nature is far more quirky and colourful and bizarre, and fascinating, than the usual marketing images of tui and cabbage trees. It's a big wild world we have to explore. We hope you'll join us in adding the next 10,000 observations.

1 comment:

  1. I mentioned in the article that there were 2,486 species in NatureWatch NZ's first 10,000. I should really have said taxa, since some things are only identified to genus or higher. There are 1,981 species. A further 353 are identified down to genus. The rest are either higher taxa or don't have a matching name in the NZ Organisms Register yet.

    Some of you might be interested in the breakdown. The 10,000 span a huge breadth of New Zealand's biodiversity.

    Plants: 1420 taxa
    Insects: 508 taxa
    Fungi: 101 taxa
    Birds: 108 taxa
    Spiders, harvestmen, and mites: 57 taxa
    Molluscs: 41 taxa
    Mammals: 38 taxa
    Fish: 32 taxa
    Protozoas: 9 taxa

    66% of the taxa observed were native (endemic and non-endemic indigenous taxa).