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ARTICLE

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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Human impact on rivers

Human beings have an impact on river ecosystems. The relationship living organisms have with each other and with their environment is extremely complex. Impacts on a species or a non-living ...

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Birds’ roles in ecosystems

An ecosystem consists of all of the flora and fauna living within an area and the interactions between them. All ecosystems, whether they are marine, freshwater or located in native bush, involve ...

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Human impact on estuaries

People like to live near estuaries. In pre-European times, estuaries were favourite places for Māori to gather – particularly to harvest and enjoy kaimoana. Today, there are major settlements ...

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Tuatara

New Zealand’s endemic tuatara is a very unusual animal. They are the only living representative of a group of reptiles known as Rhynchocephalia (sometimes known in the past as Sphenodontia) that ...

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Longfin eels

The New Zealand longfin eel (Anguilla dieffenbachii) is New Zealand’s only endemic freshwater eel. Our shortfin eel (Anguilla australis) is also found in Australia and some Pacific Islands. We ...

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Native skinks and geckos

Skinks and geckos are the only 2 native families of lizard found in New Zealand (note that tuatara are not lizards). They are vertebrates and belong to the class Reptilia. All our native skink ...

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Marine habitats

A habitat is the area where an organism or group of organisms live and breed. One habitat will be distinct from another due to its particular environmental conditions. However, habitats are not ...

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Storage in the water cycle

Scientists generally agree that the amount of water on Earth is finite, and that the water cycle constantly recycles water through the Earth’s systems. But how long does this take? How long does ...

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Mussels

Mussels are bivalve molluscs. New Zealand has 22 species of mussel including the blue mussel (kuku), little black mussel (hauea) and the ribbed mussel (pukanikani). Depending on the species ...

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Extinction

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) ranks a species as extinct when there is no reasonable doubt that the last individual has died. This might sound like a simple ...

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New Zealand’s National Science Challenges

As New Zealanders looking to the future, we are faced with many opportunities – and challenges. These include improving the health of all our people, advancing our economic growth, protecting our ...

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ACTIVITY

New Zealand bush ecosystems

In this activity, students build a food web that represents the New Zealand bush ecosystem. Students use images of organisms within the ecosystem to explore the relationships between them. By the ...

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Predation of native birds

New Zealand native birds have been greatly affected by predation. After existing in isolation from natural predators for millions of years, many native birds developed traits that exposed them to ...

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Introducing New Zealand ducks

New Zealand is home to a wide variety of water fowl. Water fowl is the common name for the Anatidae, the family of birds that includes ducks, geese and swans. Most of the Anatidae in New Zealand ...

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Pollution from Rena

The Rena disaster on 5 October 2011 impacted the surrounding environment of the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand. The ship was carrying 1368 containers – eight of which contained hazardous materials ...

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Native frogs

Frogs are vertebrates and belong to the class Amphibia. They are the only amphibians naturally occurring in New Zealand. All frogs have delicate, semi-permeable skin that allows them to absorb ...

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Human impacts on the Waikato River

Human impact has affected the ecology and biodiversity of the Waikato River. Scientists recognise the three key areas of impact that have affected the distribution of native species in the lower ...

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ACTIVITY

Groundwater contamination

In this activity, students build an aquifer model to look at point source and non-point source pollution. By the end of this activity, students should be able to: explain how pollutants are ...

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Rena wrecked on reef: oil clean-up on-going

On 5 October 2011, Maritime New Zealand was called to respond to an ‘incident’ in the early hours of the morning. The 236 m cargo vessel Rena had struck the Astrolabe Reef about 12 nautical miles ...

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