Kia ora, Hello and Bonjour!
My name is Morgane Merien. I am an entomologist, and a science communicator who is passionate about sharing knowledge on our wonderful natural world especially insects and other invertebrates.
Like many people, I like all kinds of animals but I am particularly interested and fascinated by the ones on the smaller side of the spectrum. New Zealand is incredibly fortunate to host a huge range of diversity in its native flora and fauna due to its history of long geological isolation. As such, New Zealand is home to a very high number of unique and endemic species, especially insects. Insects are incredibly widespread in our environment and have a huge impact on their ecosystem, whether we humans notice it or not. We rely on them as a resource and for a range ‘services’; from agriculture, to medicine and technological innovation, etc. This makes them an ideal and important subject to study. Furthermore, due to the sheer number and diversity of species (of which many are still unknown), we have much to find out and learn!
My PhD research focused on better understanding how native stick insects use their appearance for camouflage, and how they might be perceived by predators such as birds. Camouflage can be divided into multiple strategies, including background matching and masquerade. Stick insects represent an ideal model system to study camouflage. Although it is intuitive to assume that the appearance of stick insects functions as a camouflage defence, the study of camouflage in phasmids is significantly lacking. In my thesis, I used a range of methods including literature review, observations, behavioural laboratory experiments, image analysis and field experiments to investigate the functional significance of the appearance of various species of New Zealand stick insects.
Currently, I am working as a Science and Curatorial Communicator at Canterbury Museum where I help to provide resources for educations and public programmes, and create content based on the collections and exhibitions for outreach.
I am also the presenter of the children’s tv show BUG HUNTER! which has three seasons and are all available to watch on TVNZ+. In the show, I go on fantastical adventures to look for some awesome insects, and investigate how they live and the special places they inhabit. With the help of fellow junior bug hunters and some awesome expert, we uncover stories about our invertebrate fauna and showcase them like never before!
All in all, I enjoy discussing bugs, and science in general, and hope to do it for the rest of my life!
All photos are taken myself unless otherwise stated. Please get in contact if you want to use any of them!