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NZ’s ill-fated black swan — In The News

Tessa Evans posted in on July 26th, 2017.

New Zealand’s own species of black swan — dubbed poūwa — was a different species to the Australian cousin which replaced it, according to research published today in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. The poūwa was hunted to extinction shortly after humans arrived in the 13th Century. By using ancient DNA, New […]

Call to arms to avert climate change losses – In the News

Sarah-Jane O'Connor posted in on September 12th, 2016.

A group of international scientists – including a New Zealander – is calling for a global effort to help predict how climate change will affect species. While sophisticated mathematical models can help scientists forecast outcomes under climate change, they’re only as good as the data that goes into the models, the researchers wrote in Science. […]

Extinct sea lion discovered, raises by-catch concern – In the News

Sarah-Jane O'Connor posted in on July 12th, 2016.

The discovery of an extinct sea lion from the Chatham Islands has researchers concerned that modern levels of by-catch could drive the remaining local species extinct. University of Otago scientists identified the extinct Chatham Island sea lion and found it was genetically distinct from the modern population that lives in the Auckland and Campbell Islands […]

Moa bones reveal munching habits – Expert reaction

John Kerr posted in on January 13th, 2016.

New Zealand’s nine extinct moa species were surprisingly diverse in their diets, reveals sophisticated 3D modelling research from New Zealand and Australian scientists. A new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, uses 3D scanning technology to create models of moa skull structure based on fossilised remains of the […]

Endangered Maui’s dolphin now on the cusp of extinction

Laura Goodall posted in on May 29th, 2015.

A new warning has sounded for the world’s smallest dolphin, with a researcher now reporting there are less than 50 Maui’s dolphins left. The New Zealand Herald reports that Dr Barbara Maas of the NABU International Nature Conservation Foundation and Otago University’s Professor Liz Slooten are presenting new research during discussions with 200 leading cetacean […]

Otago University scientist helps shed light on greatest mass extinction

Peter Griffin posted in on April 16th, 2015.

Extreme volcanic activity and ocean acidification were responsible for the worst mass extinction in history, according to an international research team including a University of Otago scientist. In a paper published last Friday in the leading journal Science, the team described how 252 million years ago extreme volcanic activity caused the oceans to absorb huge amounts […]

Second study confirms moa’s rapid extinction caused by early settlers

Laura Goodall posted in on November 10th, 2014.

Even small human populations can wipe out big animal species, according to New Zealand research that suggests the moa extinction happened rapidly and at the hands of a small number of early settlers. The study – led by Canterbury University’s Professor Richard Holdaway and Otago University’s Chris Jacomb – found that there were fewer than 1500 Polynesian settlers in New […]

Restoring species no easy task

John Kerr posted in on July 25th, 2014.

The goal of protecting threatened animal species in a pristine, untouched habitat is becoming “increasingly unobtainable” according to a new article in Science. The research review from New Zealand scientists highlights Earth’s disappearing animals as well as the complications that arise when humans try to conserve them. The article, authored by Prof Philip Seddon from […]

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Maui’s dolphin extinction risk

Dacia Herbulock posted in on December 12th, 2013.

A major international conference on marine mammals in Dunedin this week has focused attention on efforts to halt the extinction of Maui’s dolphin, a subspecies unique to New Zealand waters. The Science Media Centre rounded up answers to questions aboutthe charismatic creature’s chances for survival from visiting speakers and participants in the event. Dr Barbara […]

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Pacific bird extinctions decimated global biodiversity

John Kerr posted in on March 27th, 2013.

Overhunting and deforestation by Pre-European settlers in the Pacific led to extensive loss of bird life, according to new estimates of extinction rates in the region. In a new study, scientists used fossil records from 41 Pacific islands to model the number of birds lost over the last 4,000 years. Their findings show the extinction […]

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