Skip to content.
with Alison Ballance & Ruth Beran
Thursdays 9 - 10pm
In 1981, when the Department of Conservation began intensive management of black stilts, or kaki, in the Mackenzie Basin, there were just 23 birds left in the wild. Now there are about 94 adults and sub-adults in the wild, with a few pairs that are part of the captive breeding programme which has been the core of efforts to save the black stilt. Every year the black stilt recovery team try to find all eggs laid by black stilts in the wild, and bring them into captivity to rear in safety. They can rear up to 100 chicks a year, and most are released back into the wild in spring. Introduced predators are the main threat to kaki, although modification of their braided river habitat by hydro-electric power generation and the growth of weeds on river beds have also had an impact. Dean Nelson takes Alison Ballance on a tour of the black stilt captive breeding facility near Twizel.
The recent special edition of the New Zealand Journal of Ecology titled 'Feathers to Fur: the ecological transformation of Aotearoa', includes a number of papers that reassess our understanding of New Zealand and its ecology. Among them was a paper by Matt McGlone et al called 'Comparative biogeography of New Zealand trees: species richness, height, leaf traits and range sizes.' Alison Ballance talks with botanist Matt McGlone, who is Science Leader for the Biodiversity and Conservation programme at Landcare Research, about how many tree species there are in New Zealand, and some of their other features such as height, leaf size and deciduousness.
The University of Auckland'sPeter Metcalf is studying something quite mysterious. With Elaine Chiu, and collaborators around the world, he's looking at tiny protein crystals containing very particular viruses.
Discovered over a century ago, it took decades for scientists to work out what these crystals contained, and even now some secrets remain. Using synchrotron light, they are the smallest crystals to be diffracted, and if their unique properties were replicated in the lab, they could form the basis of things like stable vaccines without refridgeration or even protein computers.
For the past two years, PhD student David Rotherham (left) from the University of Auckland has been working on techniques using DNA microsatellites to trace plants like cannabis, illegally logged timber, and pollen back to their source.
Ruth Beran meets him in the lab at Environmental Science & Research where she gets to see some of the samples he keeps under lock and key.
This is the last in a series of three stories on the forensic lab at ESR. The first was about ageing stains made by bodily fluids and the second was about identifying illegal wildlife imports. (image: ESR)
The New Zealand Biotron at Lincoln University; electrical activity in the stomach, Bose-Einstein condensates, and tracking taro.
Not all audio is available due to copyright restrictions.
Dean Nelson takes Alison Ballance on a tour of the black stilt captive rearing facility near Twizel (12′30″)
Matt McGlone is looking at the number of native tree species in New Zealand compared with the rest of the world (12′41″)
The University of Auckland's Peter Metcalf is studying something quite mysterious, tiny infectious crystals (12′39″)
David Rotherham is working on DNA techniques to trace plants like cannabis back to their source (12′36″)
Produced and presented by Veronika Meduna, Ruth Beran & Alison Ballance
Each week Our Changing World features an eclectic mix of sound-rich stories about science, the environment and medical research, recorded around New Zealand in labs and in the field.
Phone: (04) 4741910
To join the email preview of our programme, send a blank email with an empty subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org and respond to our confirmation email.
To unsubscribe, send a blank email to email@example.com.
Follow RNZ_Science on Twitter
The link(s) below can be pasted into your podcasting software.
For more podcasts and the conditions of use, please see our podcast page.
Audio is categorised based on the frequency of the programme it was heard in. Click on the headings below to access the programmes. For the most recently published audio, go to the latest audio page.
Streams are in Windows Media format. Mac and Linux users may need to install additional software. Get help with audio
A selection of music interviews, reviews, videos, concerts, sessions, and performances.
Downloads and podcasts are available for selected programmes. Our podcast page has a complete list of feeds.
Help on using online audio: formats, software, podcasts, downloading, and troubleshooting.