“These plant colonies usually grow on the branches of rainforest trees, with individual plants collaborating to build a communal store of water and nutrients to help ensure their survival, working together like honey bees in a hive.”
Students taking a third-year paper, Island Biology, usually go to Lord Howe in July to study how plants and animals evolve after colonising islands. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has put a stop to that this year.
Kevin says the island has been closed to tourists for most of 2020.
“So we’ve postponed the trip until this summer, when we are going to visit some islands locally, including Matiu/Somes, Kāpiti, and Ward. Next year, we might go to the Chatham Islands, if we still can’t get to Lord Howe.”
As well as staghorn ferns’ social lives and life history, Kevin has been studying ‘island syndrome’ more broadly.