Terrestrial Ecology

The lonliest tree in the world
Shelley McMurtrie
6 Jan 2014 - 17:07
Research Areas
50 Degrees South Trust, Spruce tree on Campbell Island

An unruly, wind-blown, 100-year-old spruce tree on subantarctic Campbell Island is possibly the world's loneliest tree. Veronika Meduna visited it earlier in December 2013 with Jonathan Palmer, who analysed its tree rings to study the...

More than megaherbs: 200 years of vegetation change on subantarctic Campbell Island
Shelley McMurtrie
30 Jul 2011 - 15:53
Campbell Island Bicentennial Expedition

Alex Fergus is giving a talk for the botanical society of Otago about the dramatic vegetation changes over the last 200 years of human occupation of Campbell Island.

The talk is on the 10th August 2011. Find out more at:

Farewell windsocks of science
Alex Fergus
7 Feb 2011 - 20:11
Research Areas
Clearing the nets
Cutting down nets
Folding the nets
Mountford 2008 Chardonnay
Mountford 2008 Chardonnay

60 days of snow, rain, hail and gale has pelted the six 3 metre long insect nets that I installed with Steve C., Carla and Jo’s help just south of the base after our arrival. Against the demons of weather, the nets have stood strong, no doubt due to the clever hand of the net constructor, my Ma, and her sewing machine.

For 2 months I have daily cleared the amassed invertebrate treasure, often with Carla’s assistance, and with Carla and Mark covering for me when I have...

Vegetation regrowth
Norm Judd
2 Feb 2011 - 20:32
Research Areas
The Bivvy - 1981
The Bivvy - 2011

Many of the historic sites that were easily seen in 1981 are now obscured by scrub and other vegetation. I have included two images here that show the rate of vegetative growth on Campbell Island over the last 30 years.

The first image is one I took on my 1981 visit to the island. It shows posts and a central pole of what may have been a small tent camp from the early farming era beginning 1895 – a site now known as the ‘Bivvy’. In the middle distance are two...

Missing Data?
Carla Meurk
29 Jan 2011 - 20:27
Island Life
Missing data

Unfortunately, in spite of our best efforts, we will leave the island without complete datasets ...

[Carla Meurk]

Discovery – the spice of life for a biologist
Colin Meurk
15 Jan 2011 - 21:40
Research Areas
Diminutive Comb Fern
Flowers of a Mat Coprosma
Onion-leaved Orchid
Two Kiokio Fern Species
Two Kiokio Fern Species
Kiokio Fern

There are many things that draw people to studying and exploring nature. Just being able to experience the miracle of life in the course of your work is a great privilege – even if most of the time you are desk-bound and enveloped in the tedium of writing grant applications. Anyway, I digress. This is about those moments of personal and scientific discovery – finding something never known before. These can be grandiose theories and principles; but I get a thrill out of much...

Unravelling the relationships of Pleurophyllum
Steve Wagstaff
9 Jan 2011 - 21:22
Research Areas
Panoramic View
P. Criniferum And Hookeri Hybrid
Pleurophyllum Criniferum Habit
Damnamenia Vernicosa Flower
Pleurophyllum Speciosum Flower

Early botanists exploring Campbell Island were astounded by the lush herbaceous plants that they called megaherbs. Megaherbs encompass a diverse array of plants including Bulbinella, Stilbocarpa, and Anisotome, but the large showy daisies in the genus Pleurophyllum are arguably the most striking. Three species are included in the genus, which is endemic to the subantarctic islands. All three are found on Campbell Island. They hybridize in various combinations, which suggests reproductive...

Dwarf Dracophyllum forests on Campbell Island
Steve Wagstaff
9 Jan 2011 - 20:43
Research Areas
Dwarf Dracophyllum Forests
D. Longifolium Growth Habit
D. Longifolium Flowers
D. Scoparium Growth Habit
D. Scoparium Flowers

With nearly 50 species, New Zealand is the centre of diversity for the genus Dracophyllum. Dracophyllum longifolium ranges widely on the mainland of New Zealand, but is also found on Stewart, Auckland and Campbell Islands, whereas D. scoparium has a perplexing distribution being found both on the Chatham Islands and Campbell Island, but not on the mainland.

At low elevations on Campbell Island they form almost impenetrable dwarf forests, which can reach up to 5 meters high, but...

Campbell Island Cushion Plants
Steve Wagstaff
2 Jan 2011 - 20:01
Research Areas
Cushion Plant Panorama
A Tight Cushion
A Close Association

Most plants perished from Antarctica as global temperatures cooled and the ice sheets advanced. Cushion plants and mosses were among the last plants to perish. Although the precise stratigraphical sequence and dates are controversial, fossil remains suggest that they may have persisted until the Pliocene Epoch about ten million years ago.

Cushion plants form expansive communities on Campbell Island. It is conceivable these plants are the descendants of Antarctic tundra vegetation....

Naturalized plants on Campbell Island
Steve Wagstaff
1 Jan 2011 - 20:11
Research Areas
Indigenous And Naturalized Plants
Cerastium Fontanum
Anthoxanthum Odoratum
Taraxacum Officinale

A number of exotic plants have become established and persist on Campbell Island. They are mostly associated with homestead or campsites or along tracks. The most common are range grasses such as Poa pratensis, Kentucky bluegrass, Festuca rubra, red fescue, or Anthoxxanthum odoratum, sweet vernal grass. A few such as Cerastium fontanum are found in coastal habitats at the high tide line or tussock or megaherb communites. They are mostly perennial herbs or grasses with seeds or fruits that...

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