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Above: USGS scientist Gordon Anderson is filmed while he uses a sediment elevation table to measure the relative elevation of wetland sediment.
Above: National Geographic videographer gets a shot with a "bird's-eye view" from an 80-ft-high tower instrumented to measure atmospheric carbon dioxide and other climatic parameters. A National Geographic film crew working on a program about the Florida Everglades visited several U.S.
The final film product, a 50-minute TV program slated for National Geographic television, has the working title "Secret Everglades" and follows two previously released programs called "Secret Yosemite" and "Secret Yellowstone." All are part of a series about America's National Parks timed to coincide with the National Parks Centennial Initiative, a presidential initiative to enhance our national parks during the decade leading up to their 100th anniversary in 2016. No other decorating element can dramatically change the look and feel of a room like wallpaper. National Geographic does not premoderate photos, so we appreciate our community's help in reporting photos that may be in violation of our Community Rules. Give Your Photos ExposureSelected photographs will appear on our website and in our magazines! Hotspot: New ZealandStep into the world of writers and photographers as they tell you about the best, worst, and quirkiest places and adventures they encountered in the field.
What happens when an archipelago populated by bizarre flightless birds is invaded by alien species? Three's a crowd in a two-man tent, especially when you're jackknifed around an assortment of packs and camera cases, a couple of car batteries, and a videophone. Hold very still! This meat-eating living fossil is the first of four New Zealand images to grace your desktop this month. In More to Explore the National Geographic magazine team shares some of its best sources and other information.
The New Zealand Trust for Conservation Volunteers (NZTCV) coordinates individuals and local conservation groups working on large projects. Geological Survey (USGS) data-collection platforms in Everglades National Park on January 25, 2008. The Everglades program is expected to air in the fall, and DVD copies should be available for sale at the park's visitor centers and National Geographic's online store by the end of 2008. Wallpaper comes in a wonderful variety of styles, designs and colors to suit any taste, whim or style.
As the shadow grows larger and comes closer, the overwhelming sight of an 8 meter whale shark has me awe struck. I gave up trying to sleep and watched the flimsy nylon walls heaving with each volley of rain.
Visitors to New Zealand can also participate in conservation projects, some of which even include accommodations. Learn about the efforts to save this little creature, which is almost more mammal than bird. This comprehensive and well-illustrated website tells the tale of the world's heaviest parrot. The crew filmed scientists Gordon Anderson (USGS) and Karen Balentine (contracted to the USGS through Jacobs Technology, Inc.) as they conducted field measurements and assisted Everglades National Park hydrologist Vic Engel, who had invited them to participate.
Whether you are looking to refresh a bathroom, create a luxurious bedroom retreat, add a bit of design to a kitchen or looking to make a dramatic change to any other room in the home, you are sure to find a wallpaper that reflects your personal taste and style. The titan glides past, just a few feet away, when I remember the two things I should be doing - breathe! While many of New Zealand's native plant and animal species have already been lost, many remain and can be saved. The National Geographic crew, supervised by Brian Armstrong, filmed work being done as part of a joint study between the USGS and the National Park Service. Use of this site is subject to certain Terms Of Use.Local store prices may vary from those displayed. But the Department of Conservation can't manage all the projects alone and relies heavily on volunteers. During filming, the two USGS scientists assisted Engel in taking measurements for his study of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Thousands of New Zealanders participate each year in bird counts, habitat restoration, tree planting, and other conservation projects. In addition, the National Geographic crew filmed Balentine and Anderson measuring coastal sediment at a sediment elevation table—a portable, mechanical leveling device for measuring the relative elevation of wetland sediment. Many citizens plant and manage their gardens with native vegetation as part of an effort to restore native species and minimize introduced species.
Then, just before midnight, I heard a sound so deep and resonant it could have been coming from a Tibetan monastery. The screen flickered to life, and there, puffed up like a soccer ball, was a kakapo, New Zealand's ancient parrot of the night.
He was standing in his bowl, a shallow depression he had made in the peaty soil, and booming his message to the four winds: "I am Lionel, male of males.
This bird that thinks it's a bagpipe is the world's heaviest parrot and the world's only flightless parrot.


Most of them, including just 21 adult females on which the future of the species ultimately depends, live on this island: Whenua Hou, a wildlife sanctuary off the western coast of Stewart Island, smallest and southernmost of New Zealand's three main islands. Each evening during the three-month summer courtship season males would gather in their ridgetop display grounds and sound off until dawn, a troupe of basso profundos trying to outdo one another in operatic fervor. Its plangent chants have been replaced by the guttural hisses and shrieks of a plague of introduced Australian brushtail possums, marsupial leaf-eating machines that have supplanted the kakapo and other browsing birds from New Zealand's forests. When I visited Whenua Hou, staff of the Department of Conservation, the government agency charged with preserving the country's biodiversity, were preparing for what promised to be the best kakapo breeding season in 20 years.
More than a hundred volunteers had been enlisted to take part in round-the-clock surveillance from tents like the one I was in.
Their job would be to watch each nest on a video monitor, hurrying to check the eggs when the female left to forage, covering them with a mini-electric blanket if they became too cold, and radioing the island control center if anything went wrong.
Like our national bird, the kiwi, kakapos embody the uniqueness and the plight of New Zealand's endemic biota.
Aranga means "resurrection" in Maori.) The first surprise had been to find a flightless bird 30 feet (9 meters) up a tree. Evidently climbing is not a problem for kakapos, as Aranga demonstrated, using her beak as an ice ax and her toes as crampons to shinny down a supplejack vine to the ground. I leaned close, breathing the sweet fustiness of her plumage—an odor I once heard likened to the inside of a clarinet case.
Look at you, I thought: An oversize budgie with an antique perfume that walks by night, lives not in the tropics but in the cold blast of the roaring forties, and breeds by holding a singing contest.
These flightless striders of the forest floor stretch the very definition of the word "bird." They have nostrils at the tips of their prodigious beaks (unlike any other bird), feathers that are shaggy, like hair, and an enormous egg that can be up to a fifth the weight of the bird that laid it. These islands have produced several tribes of wingless crickets called wetas, many of which possess profusely spined hind legs that they kick over their heads when threatened.
New Zealand is the largest oceanic archipelago on the planet and for its size the most distant from any major landmass.
Large area and varied topography give scope for the processes of natural selection to produce diverse outcomes. During its long solitude it went through periods of submergence, when all that showed above the waves was a string of low, swampy islands, and through episodes of mountain building. It wandered between the tropics and the South Pole and endured tens of thousands of years in the deep freeze of glaciation. Other than bats, no mammals succeeded in doing that, but dozens of birds did, including the ancestors of the kiwi and kakapo. Over the centuries many of these new arrivals, encountering no mammalian predators to harass them, went to ground. By the time humans arrived, a third of New Zealand's birds were either flightless or aerodynamically challenged.
Large herbivores process food more efficiently than small ones, and in the absence of other factors (such as the need to nimbly escape fast-moving predators) bigger is better.
From weevils to waterfowl, species after species took this route, appropriating niches occupied elsewhere by mammals. Across the same ocean that had kept mammals at bay for 80 million years came a smooth-skinned supermammal in a canoe.
The impact of the Polynesian colonists was immediate and catastrophic.Within a hundred years the moas were gone.
A few stragglers may have survived until the 1400s, but as viable species they were finished. Intent on creating the Britain of the South, they set about turning the country into a combination of farm and game park. As well as cattle and the sheep with which New Zealand would become synonymous, they successfully introduced ten species of deer, with moose thrown in for good measure in rainy Fiordland. Austrian chamois and Himalayan tahrs were let loose in the Southern Alps, where they grazed down a unique alpine flora that had never been subjected to the depredations of hoof and jaw. From our neighbor across the Tasman Sea, several species of wallabies were brought in, plus possums to create a fur trade. Rabbits and hares were introduced, then weasels, stoats, and ferrets to control them when their numbers exploded. That bungled attempt at biocontrol has cost us dearly: Mustelids, finding flightless and hole-nesting birds much easier to catch than rabbits, have become the most serious threat to what remain of our larger native birds. The world has probably never seen such a comprehensive and rapid example of ecological colonization.
Holdaway is a Christchurch paleoecologist who sieves bone fragments from caves and swamps and from the remnants tries to reconstruct the past. On a blistering day in Canterbury when the nor'wester was blowing hotter than a hair dryer, he took me to a vineyard to show me a lost world.
Holdaway pulled what looked like a broken pick handle out of a bank of debris and handed it to me. As well as the moa and the giant Haast's eagle (which, Holdaway informed me, could hit its prey with the force of a 35-pound concrete block dropped from an eight-story building), the site has yielded tuataras, the extinct eastern kiwi, kakapos, an extinct giant harrier, ducks, pigeons, quails, wekas (flightless rails), parakeets, snipes, and water hens, "along with tree stumps, millions of seeds, and vast numbers of land snails.


Sure, by world standards it's clean, and much of the time it's green, but it isn't New Zealand." He pointed to the bone pile. There are still places where the old order endures, but you have to go high into the mountains or to offshore islands. There, rearing out of the Southern Ocean like a clutch of granite icebergs, lie the Snares, one of New Zealand's five subantarctic island groups.
Although these specks of land are little more than a square mile in area, as many seabirds are said to nest here as in the whole of the British Isles. Titis are impressive fliers, migrating from their breeding islands in the Southern Hemisphere to subarctic waters between Japan and Alaska and back again each year—in the case of the Snares birds a round-trip of some 15,000 miles (24,140 kilometers). Chick-rearing parents, which alternate between foraging and nest minding, spend as many as 11 days at sea each trip. A titi returning to the Snares must first find the islands, then figure out which part of the uniformly gray-green forest of tree daisies contains its burrow, then crash-land through the canopy, avoiding the hundreds of neck-snapping V-shaped slots created by branches pointing skyward like booby traps. I walked like a person crossing a frozen pond, testing my weight with each step—and with good reason, for all that covers the subterranean city of seabird burrows is a thin mat of soil and tree roots. Once or twice that happened, and I had to kneel down and perform a hasty reroofing job, using twigs as rafters and broad tree-daisy leaves as tarpaulins.
Patting down a new peat layer on top, I would set off again, sidestepping sleeping sea lions and pausing to watch the ceaseless traffic of penguins padding like hobbits along forest trails.
I propped a stout cudgel nearby, in case a sea lion should blunder into my campsite, and started taking notes.
It's nearly dark, and all around me titi are crashing through the branches and thudding to the ground. The birds are preparing to take flight again and look for food, so for the past hour the noise has been building up and now it's deafening.
If they don't get a good takeoff they run across the water, flapping like crazy until they get enough lift. Three hundred and thirty islands of ten acres (4 hectares) or more dot the coastline, along with countless smaller islets and rock stacks. A three-square-mile peninsula jutting into Lake Waikaremoana has been protected by rat and stoat traps set across its base, and these catch most predators.
For the past ten years biologist John McLennan has been establishing and studying kiwis there. With his radio telemetry aerial held aloft, he looked like an errant TV repairman seeking better reception. The pips on the receiver grew louder, and I knew we were closing in on the six-week-old kiwi.
Laying down his equipment, McLennan reached into a clump of toetoe, a native grass, and withdrew a furry, pear-shaped bird the size of a hamster, with two very big feet. Kiwis need to reach one and three-quarter pounds before they can be considered off the stoat menu.
With the birds putting on weight at a rate of a fifth of an ounce a day, that's a long and worrying adolescence. McLennan has between 50 and 60 kiwis on the peninsula now, and in the last breeding season he lost hardly any chicks to predators.
One involves a wren, a cat, and a lighthouse keeper, and it happened over a century ago on Stephens Island, at the northern tip of the South Island.
The wren was one of only four flightless songbirds in the world (two of the others were also New Zealand wrens). The cat caught several of the little brown birds and brought them to the lighthouse keeper's house. The keeper, whose name was Lyall, sent them to local and overseas museums to be identified. In 1979 the Chatham Island black robin had dwindled to a population of just five birds, of which only one female, named Old Blue, was a viable breeder.
Wildlife officer Don Merton, a pioneer of threatened species work, devised a daring strategy to save the bird. He tried a similar trick on the Chatham Islands, giving Old Blue's eggs to tomtits (another type of robin) to incubate. When she died at age 13, having produced 11 chicks, her death was announced in the New Zealand Parliament. Chatham Islanders, tough farming and fishing people and not the sort you'd expect to fall in love with an endangered bird, adopted the black robin as a mascot. Conservation in New Zealand will continue to be a mixture of the two with, we hope, victories edging out defeats in the ecological battle. Who knows, one day even kakapos may return to some of their former haunts, finding new homes on mainland islands.



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