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2021 Meetings

BotSoc meetings are usually held at 7.30 pm on the third Monday of each month at Victoria University, Wellington, Lecturer Theatre M101, ground floor Murphy Building, west side of Kelburn Parade.   Enter building off Kelburn Parade about 20m below pedestrian overbridge.

Non-members are welcome to come to our evening meetings.

Click here to find out how to get there by public transport

To Help raise funds for BotSoc’s Jubilee Award Fund members are encouraged to bring named seedlings/cuttings for sale at each evening meeting.

2021 Programme

Monday 15 February 2021:   Evening meeting – Orchid conservation in NZ - a long and winding road

Speaker:   Carlos Lehnebach, Curator, Te Papa.   More than 30% of our orchids are of conservation concern with some species reduced to only a few hundred plants in the wild and restricted to a single locality.   Some potentially new species are also facing the threat of extinction.   What can we do to save them?   In this talk I will present current research projects aiming at understanding orchid partnerships with fungal mycorrhizal partners and the development of methods to propagate terrestrial and epiphytic orchids from seed.

Monday 15 March 2021:   Evening meeting – Kotukutuku Ecological Restoration Project (KERP) – Impact of rodent control on forest regeneration

Speaker:   Winifred Long, Ecological Analyst.   KERP is based on a 32-hectare Kapiti Coast property with mature and regenerating coastal forest plus pasture and plantation forest.   The flora on the property has been inventoried: 42% of the species present are endemic with a further 21% indigenous but not endemic.   One of KERP’s objectives is to protect and enhance the biodiversity of the 17-ha coastal forest remnant on the property through intensive pest control.   In 2020 a vegetation survey was done including eight 20 m × 1 m survey plots originally surveyed in 2016 before pest control operations began.   This enabled a comparison of the 2020 survey results with the pre pest control results to identify whether the control of rodents has had an impact on vegetation as it is known that rats and mice eat seeds and seedlings.

Monday 19 April 2021:   Evening meeting – Name changes among New Zealand ferns: the good, the bad, and the ugly?

Speaker:   Dr Leon Perrie, Curator of Botany, Te Papa.   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.   You can decide what’s good, bad, or ugly.

Monday 17 May 2021:   Evening meeting – Members’ evening

Please share your botanical slides and photographs taken on BotSoc trips, your paintings, drawings and your favourite botanical readings.   Slides, on a USB stick, limited to 20 per person.   For a gold-coin koha, or even ‘folding money’, buy one or more books we put on display to help build up the Jubilee Award Fund which is used to support research on NZ plants.   Bring any spare botanical or other natural-history books you have and don’t want any more to have them auctioned - to be taken home again if they don’t sell.   Plant specimens to sell, or to discuss, would add to a memorable evening.

Monday 21 June 2021:   Evening meeting – Woefully Weedy Wellington

Speaker:   Illona Keenan, Biosecurity Specialist – Pest Plants,WCC.   Wellington City Council manages weeds for a wide range of reasons and in many places.   This talk will outline the reasons weed control is undertaken, where on public land it occurs, and by whom (Council staff or Contractors).   Following this overview, Illona’s talk will focus on ecological weed control, outlining WCC’s decision processes, which species are targeted, and provision for community groups to be involved.

Monday 19 July 2021:   Evening meeting – Wellington’s dunelands — a naturally uncommon ecosystem

Speaker:   Dr Roger Uys, Senior Terrestrial Ecologist, Greater Wellington Regional Council.   Dunelands used to be far more abundant, but their continued loss to stabilisation, farming and development has seen them become one of our rare ecosystems.   Like wetlands they are now Nationally Threatened.   In contrast, our naturally uncommon ecosystems have always had limited distributions.   However, like the rare ecosystems, most of our naturally uncommon ecosystems have also become threatened with extinction.

Wellington’s Regional Policy Statement requires the regional council to identify indigenous ecosystems and habitats with significant indigenous biodiversity values so that these ecosystems can be protected in district and regional plans.   This talk is about how we’ve been mapping the extent, surveying the biodiversity and monitoring the health of dunelands and naturally uncommon ecosystems in the Wellington Region.   I will let you in on some fantastic botanical discoveries and give you the inside scoop on what councils, DOC and community groups are doing to protect these ecosystems.

Monday 16 August 2021:   Evening meeting – AGM and Tony Druce Memorial Lecture: Peatlands—following the footsteps of APD into special places

Speaker:   Bev Clarkson, Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, Hamilton.   Botanising with Tony Druce was always a special treat.   He taught the importance of understanding species-environment relationships and targeting azonal habitats to assess the full variety of vegetation and flora of an area.   He would always seek out open habitats such as seepages, ephemeral wetlands, turfs and lakeshores, which contrasted with the more typical forested ecosystems.   My own special places are peatlands, particularly bogs, which have extreme environmental conditions and contain unique plants and animals.   For example, Waikato bogs are dominated by the threatened endemic species, cane rush / Sporadanthus ferrugineus and greater wire rush / Empodisma robustum.   They originally covered many thousands of hectares from north of Kaitaia to south of Hamilton, but the vegetation type is now restricted to the Waikato region.   This presentation will cover their history of development from swamps through fens to bogs over several thousand years, and the typical plant communities.   It will also outline the impacts of drainage and nutrient inputs at the Moanatuatua bog remnant over the last 40 years, compared with the relatively intact Kopuatai bog.

Monday 20 September 2021:   Evening meeting – (via ZOOM only) Native plant succession in woody weed stands in NZ

Speaker:   Kate McAlpine, Science Advisor, DOC.   Woody weeds form dense, monospecific stands in many areas of NZ.   At some sites, the weed dies out naturally to be replaced by native species as succession proceeds, but at others the weed persists indefinitely.   The ability to distinguish between these different trajectories is critical to effective weed management, but the conditions that determine successional outcomes remain poorly understood.   However, clues to the successional trajectory at any given woody weed site can be found in the understorey, because understorey plants represent the potential future plant community, in the absence of disturbance.

COVID-19 Unite image
At this time, while NZ is at COVID-19 alert level 2, 3 and 4, further face-to-face meetings and field trips are cancelled until further notice.   BUT instead if possible speakers will give their talks at 7.30 p.m. on the Mondays planned using ZOOM.   Follow instructions below.

How to join a ZOOM meeting

1. The secretary will e-mail out the invitation to members with a link to join the meeting closer to the event.   Click on the link e-mailed to you in your internet browser.
2. Follow the prompt to Download the ZOOM app. which should take you automatically to the meeting.
Please note:
•   When you join the meeting, your microphone will be automatically muted.   This is so no one accidentally interrupts the speaker.   If you’re not speaking, please keep your microphone muted, so accidental background noise and playback doesn’t disrupt the meeting.
•   You can turn the video on if you like or leave it off.

On the meeting night – Please ensure you have connected to the meeting well before 7.30pm, when the meeting proper begins.

Monday 18 October 2021:   Evening meeting – (via ZOOM only - see above for instructions) Student presentations:

Speaker 1:   Colan Balkwill, BotSoc grant recipient towards PhD.   How can we ensure NZ’s plant species are robust in a warming world?   As habitat suitability shifts and land use becomes more intense, maximising adaptability within small forest patches will be essential to ensuring the persistence of NZ’s flora.   Colan will discuss how genetics can begin to inform the rescue of plant species significantly affected by habitat loss.   As a case study, he will introduce his PhD research, focussed on restoration and conservation genetics of maire tawake / swamp maire / Syzygium maire, a wetland tree species which has lost over 98% of its habitat in the Wellington Region.

Speaker 2:   Joe Dillon, Student, VUW: A Hungry Botanist’s Journey: from bugs to birds to plants.   Joe will talk about what he feels his role in plant conservation has been, including his career and voluntary aspirations, and what he’s managed to do with social media.   He’ll provide his perspective on involving younger generations including his own by outlining his journey - how a three-year-old who named bugs under rocks at kindy grew into a fifteen-year-old young birder and then into a ‘botanist-in-training’.   Slides will include some of his favourite plant photos.

Monday 15 November 2021:   Evening meeting – (in person and via ZOOM - see above for instructions) Out and About in the Kaimai Range

Speakers:   Gael Donaghy and Graeme Jane, BotSoc junkies.   The Kaimai Range is the northern extent of the Volcanic Plateau and the vegetation represents a transition from that of the plateau to that of the northern part of NZ.   The forest has been severely modified since European settlement by logging and the introduction of pests.


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