Magazine

ISSUE 154

Nov - Dec 2018

Prehistoric birds

Glaciers

Citizen science

Niue

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History

Return of the lost birds

Since humans arrived in New Zealand, we’ve lost nearly half of our native terrestrial bird species. Some of those extinct icons are well known, while others are recalled only by myth and bones. We will probably never know the full polyphony of that primordial dawn chorus, but old bones and new science are giving us a richer picture of life in the land of birds, back when they still ruled the roost. For the first time, we’re able to answer questions about what they ate, where they came from, how they were related to each other, and how they got so much bigger, heavier, and weirder than their ancestors.

Archive

Science & Environment

Citizen science

You don’t need a PhD to find a new species, unearth a rare fungus or name an asteroid. New Zealanders with no specialist training are contributing to scientific research by monitoring streams, spotting rare plants, counting the birds visiting their back gardens, and putting GPS trackers on their cats.

Geography

The final meltdown

Retreating glaciers and thinning snow and ice are the future of New Zealand’s mountains. Climate change is predicted to warm the country’s atmosphere by 1–4°C by the end of the century, altering the natural water cycle—how much is frozen as snow, how much falls as rain, and how much flows in rivers. Climate researchers are seeking to predict what will change, and when. What will be the impact on hydroelectric power stations and irrigation schemes? Which areas will be hit hardest by flooding, or increasingly severe drought? The Deep South National Science Challenge is taking a lead role in helping decision-makers plan for the coming century.

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