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We had a short visit recently to one of the waterways that runs through Styx Mill Reserve, in Christchurch. The ~60 ha site has an interesting mix of vegetation types (mainly wetland and riparian areas), and even some locally rare plants. But on this occasion we went to look for arthropods – both in and around the water.

Below are a few of our finds. Our thanks to the folks at NatureWatch for help with the identifications.

The forest shield bug (Oncacontias vittatus):

 

Another immature shield bug, probably a Rhopalimorpha sp.

CINJAT Rhopalimorpha sp IMG_2680

The New Zealand pond-skater (Microvelia macgregori):

 

The larvae of a mosquito/midge (Family Dixidae)

CINJAT Family Dixidae Aquatic larvae IMG_2670

A longjawed orb weaver spider (genus Tetragnatha):

CINJAT longjawed orbweaver

And this is the same spider making itself as thin as possible, presumably for hiding:

CINJAT Swamp orbweb spider Tetragnatha sp IMG_2714

There is a guide to many of the species in the reserve on the Landcare website here and the reserve is part of the Styx Project. There is also a comprehensive booklet about Christchurch Waterways available from Environment Canterbury here.

 

We were looking for tardigrades, but without success on this occasion. We collected moss and liverwort from our urban backyard, along with some soil, and added water.

Moss, liverwort and soil samples

Moss, liverwort and soil samples

However, we did find a large number of other small creatures, most of which we were unable to identify. So we posted some of the images on NatureWatchNZ, and several scientists kindly identified them for us.

There is also an extensive collection of web pages on New Zealand soil fauna that has been compiled by Massey University here. Their site includes images, information and identification keys.

Our photos and videos were taken using a stereo microscope at 40 x magnification, connected to a camera phone, as shown below.

Setup with stereo microscope and camera phone attached

Setup with stereo microscope and camera phone attached

 

The most common creatures we found were nematodes, which are shown in the video below. They are almost transparent and so would be quite difficult to spot, except that they draw attention to themselves by frequently knocking into soil particles.

 

The Massey site notes that: “Nematodes are the most numerous multicellular animals on Earth. In New Zealand pasture soil, for example, every square meter of soil has on average several million nematodes in the top ten cantimeters. In the deserts there are fewer nematodes in the soil, but they are still present. The only place without nematodes is the ice of Antarctica and mountain glaciers, where there is nothing to feed on.”

Nematodes are also one of the things that tardigrades like to eat (as well as moss).

The other animal we found a lot of are these 6-legged creatures with antennae which turned out to be springtails.

 

This one is probably a true bug, since it seems to have a sap sucking stylet (out of focus):

True bug

True bug

 

This one is a millipede, with two pairs of legs per segment.

Millipede

Millipede

Millipede

Millipede

 

This is a mite.

 

There were also lots of very small blobs, whizzing around, that might possibly have been paramecium? It is really impossible to see at this scale.

It would be nice to have a greater magnification available, but even the 40x reveals a much more populated space than it normally appears.

We made several trips to the Botanic Gardens this week, and to the new Visitors Centre.

The visitors centre

The Visitors Centre

Part of a painting in the Visitors Centre

Part of a painting in the Visitors Centre

One of the displays

One of the displays inside

Diorama of a settlers garden

Diorama of a settlers garden

Diorama with vegetable garden

Diorama with vegetable garden

Diorama including a cherry blossom tree

Diorama including a glasshouse and a cherry blossom tree

 

Diorama of a modern style garden

Diorama of a modern style garden

Microscope, which displays on a monitor

Microscope, which displays on a monitor

Examples of art inspired by gardens

Examples of art inspired by gardens

Penguins, advertising the upcoming IceFest

Some penguins near the cafe, advertising the upcoming IceFest

Carnivorous plants in one of the glass houses

Pitcher plants and sundews (carnivorous plants), in one of the glass houses

Glasshouse details

Details of a glasshouse roof

Looking along the glasshouses (apparently blinds come down when it is sunny)

Looking along the glasshouses (blinds come down when it is sunny)

Propagation in one of the glass houses

Propagation underway in one of the glass houses

Maples and Hellebores

Maples and Hellebores near the Archery Lawn

 

 

Daffodils in Hagley Park

Daffodils near the Band Rotunda

CINJAT BG Cunningham House 2 IMG_0521

The Cunningham House is open again – 1st opened in 1923 but had been closed awhile after the quakes.

Looking down the length of the Cunningham House, from upstairs

Looking down the length of the Cunningham House, from upstairs

Bromeliads

Bromeliads (upstairs in the Cunningham House)

Looking down the length of the Alpine House

Inside Foweraker House, which has alpine plants

Plants flowering in the alpine house

Inside Foweraker House

In the Alpine Glasshouse

Inside Foweraker House

In the Alpine Glasshouse

Inside Foweraker House

The Fernery

The Fernery

Inside the Fernery

Inside the Fernery

A wooden moa, in the fernery

We found three moa’s lurking in the fern house.

Flickr Photos

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