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ARTICLE

Marine food webs

Feeding relationships are often shown as simple food chains – in reality, these relationships are much more complex, and the term ‘food web’ more accurately shows the links between producers ...

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Human impacts on marine environments

Throughout human existence we have relied on the oceans – for food, as a waste dump, for recreation, for economic opportunities and so on. However, it’s not only our activities in the marine ...

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Adaptations of marine organisms

Adaptation is an evolutionary process whereby an organism becomes increasingly well suited to living in a particular habitat. It is not a quick process! Natural selection over many generations ...

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Earthworm adaptations

Adaptation is an evolutionary process whereby an organism becomes increasingly well suited to living in a particular habitat. Natural selection results in helpful traits becoming more common in a ...

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Principles of flight

For thousands of years, people have wanted to fly. Our legends and fairy tales are full of humans and animals that can fly – effortlessly gliding through the air. In real life, of course, no one ...

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Wing aspect ratio

Wing shapes and sizes of both birds and planes determine how they might perform or what they might be capable of (for example, gliding, sustained high speed and manoeuvrability). One way in which ...

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Insulation

In Antarctica, winter temperatures can vary from -70ºC to -15ºC – it is one of the coldest places to live on earth. To survive in the Antarctic, keeping warm becomes a very important focus, and ...

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Native bird adaptations

New Zealand separated from Gondwana around 65 million years ago. Due to the geographical isolation and a lack of ground-dwelling predators, our birds evolved unique characteristics. Flight was ...

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What is a fern?

There are ferns in most New Zealanders’ backyards and local environments. Ferns are green flowerless plants with divided leaves that tend to grow in damp, shady areas. The developing leaves of ...

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Environmental conditions affecting the sea

On land, the most important environmental conditions affecting organisms are rainfall and temperature. In our oceans, there are a number of environmental conditions that affect the growth ...

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Ecosystems

What is an ecosystem? An ecosystem is made up of animals, plants and bacteria as well as the physical and chemical environment they live in. The living parts of an ecosystem are called biotic ...

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Water density

Water density changes with temperature and salinity. Density is measured as mass (g) per unit of volume (cm³). Water is densest at 3.98°C and is least dense at 0°C (freezing point). Why does ice ...

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Adapting to marine habitats

Being able to adapt is a matter of life or death. In a perfect world, organisms would not need to adapt. However, changes to the environment and food web mean that organisms need to move, if they ...

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Wing loading

You can tell a great deal about how a bird lives or what a plane has been designed for just from its wing shape and size. Wings of both birds and planes determine how they might perform or what ...

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Wings and lift

For a plane or bird to fly, its wings must produce enough lift to equal its weight. Most wings used in flight are a special shape – called aerofoils (or airfoils). This shape is needed to help ...

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Birds’ roles in ecosystems

An ecosystem consists of all of the organisms living within an area and the interactions between them and the physical environment. All ecosystems, whether they are marine, freshwater or located ...

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Sea stars

When is a fish not really a fish? When it’s a starfish! Starfish is the common name for a group of animals called sea stars. Sea stars are actually part of the phylum Echinoderm and are related ...

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Monarch butterflies

New Zealand’s most identifiable butterfly is the monarch (Danaus plexippus). Although found in many places around the world, the monarch is considered a New Zealand native because it became ...

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Breeding a new apple cultivar

Breeding a new apple cultivar takes a long time and involves many steps. The aim is to produce high-quality fruit that consumers will like and want to buy. Breeding apples to increase quality The ...

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