Behind the Foliage
Dr Kevin Burns and a team of researchers from Victoria University of Wellington have discovered that New Zealand trees have evolved a camouflage defense mechanism to protect themselves from extinct giant birds. “Plants are attacked by a bewildering array of herbivores and in response they have evolved a variety of defences to deter predators such as thorns and noxious chemicals,” said Burns. The team studied the leaves of the Araliaceae tree (P. crassifolius), which is a heteroblastic species native to New Zealand. This species goes through several strange colour transitions during the process from germination to maturity and the reason for these changes is now thought to be a defence strategy from an extinct predator, the moa.