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Slow Breeding, Ancient DNA and Vagrant Seals


Tue 18 Aug 2015, 6:00pm–7:30pm

Where: Te Papa, 55 Cable St, Wellington

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • General admission: $15.00
  • Friends of Te Papa: $12.00
  • Additional fees may apply

Listed by: tepapaevents

Why breed slowly and live long? Why analyse ancient DNA? How come an Antarctic seal turns up in Wellington? Hear three Te Papa specialists talk about their work.

Susan Waugh, Senior Curator Sciences, manages the science and natural history programme for the museum. Her personal field of expertise is in seabird population and ecology, currently prompting her to ask, ‘Why breed slowly and live long?’ She has been studying what affects breeding decisions and life-history strategy in the Westland petrel, an endemic NZ seabird.

Lara Shepherd, Researcher Genetics, reminisces about seeing Jurassic Park as a high school student and the impact that had on her choice of career. At Te Papa she is using genetic techniques to study the evolution of New Zealand’s flora and fauna. These include analysing ancient DNA from the museum’s collections, and she will be talking about the significance of some recent discoveries.

Colin Miskelly, Curator Vertebrates, is an ornithologist with broad interests, including conservation ecology, biogeography and the history of science. An expert in bird identification, he used his research to drive the creation of the website New Zealand Birds Online. The vertebrates that have caught his attention lately though are seals, specifically Antarctic seals in New Zealand waters. How and why did a crab eater seal from Antarctica end up in Island Bay on Wellington’s south coast?

Image credits: Westland petrel. Banded adult in flight showing upper wing. Kaikoura pelagic, January 2013. © Colin Miskelly by Colin Miskelly.

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