At Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne kākā, tīeke and hihi (stitchbird), little spotted kiwi and takahē create a lively canopy and forest floor. But behind the scenes, there is a complex web of connections. In this ecological blockbuster, every species plays a vital part. Zealandia’s senior communication advisor, Gini Letham, explains. Birds are the recognisable … Continue reading Why is Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne translocating so many “unusual” species?
A seven-year Department of Conservation study into combined predator control methods has revealed great news for the survival of our native whio (blue ducks). The findings show that 1080 used alongside trapping can keep introduced predators at bay – giving whio populations a chance to grow. The study comes on the back of research that … Continue reading Combined control contains the key to whio population growth
Otago University zoologists Anna Aichele, Philip Seddon and Yolanda van Heezik have been measuring the sugar intake of kākā at Orokonui Eco-sanctuary just north of Dunedin where sugar water feeders regularly entice birds down from the trees to the delight of visitors. Note: We are re-sharing our articles. This article was originally published on December … Continue reading Sugar intake of kākā measured at ecosanctuary feeders
This week marks the publication of the Maukahuka Pest Free Auckland Island project report on the technical feasibility of eradicating pigs, cats and mice from Auckland Island. This is the most significant milestone since the eradication of pigs from the island was first raised in 1982. Over the last four years, the Department of Conservation … Continue reading Maukahuka Pest Free Auckland Island: Will it work?
Pāteke/brown teal are mainly nocturnal, small dabbling ducks found only in New Zealand. They once inhabited a wide range of habitats including wet forests, swamps, slow-flowing streams, lakes and estuaries and in pre-human times may have been the most wide-spread and abundant of our waterfowl. Even 200 years ago brown teal were abundant and widespread … Continue reading Researchers evaluate what pāteke need for successful reintroduction
Fenced sanctuaries don’t come cheap – but they do offer a way to create areas of rich, predator free habitat for vulnerable species. But what about the habitat outside the fence? Most research to date has looked at ‘inside the fence’ habitat and bird populations, but good habitat beyond the boundary can offer extra food … Continue reading What’s outside the fence matters too
Between 2010 and 2016, the community group Friends of Flora Inc., in partnership with the Department of Conservation, translocated 44 roroa (great spotted kiwi, Apteryx haastii) to the Flora Stream area in Kahurangi National Park. But that was just the beginning of the project. Each kiwi was fitted with a VHF transmitter and, for the … Continue reading Volunteers monitor kiwi dispersal for 8 years
What a difference 20 years makes! The lizards of Kāpiti Island have now had 20 years of living rat-free and researchers Jennifer Gollin, Nic Gorman and Doug Armstrong have been checking out the little reptiles to see how much better they’re doing. The report on the results of their island survey in the New Zealand … Continue reading Lizards counted on predator free Kāpiti Island
Translocation is an important tool for conservation management – but it comes with risks. The capture and transfer process can be highly stressful to wildlife. Some individuals can and have died. Finding ways to reduce translocation stress can save lives. And the lives that are saved are often those of rare and endangered taonga. So … Continue reading Less stress = translocation success for tiny rifleman
When you remove predators from islands and restore forest habitat, the expectation is that native forest birds will flourish and that the new ‘improved’ conditions may favour native birds over introduced species. But is that what happens? Researchers John Ralph, Carol Ralph and Linda Long looked at how bird populations on the seven islands and … Continue reading Tūī numbers treble in predator control study
Sanctuary fences keep predators out – but they’ve also become a popular ‘highway’ for ship rats travelling around the sanctuary exterior. Rats have discovered that the rolled steel hood (designed to stop mammals climbing over the fence), also makes a great way to get around, safely out of reach of their own predators like stoats … Continue reading What’s happening up in the hood?
Ecosanctuaries are currently our modern-day ‘Noah’s Ark’. In New Zealand they range from small islands in the middle of lakes and unfenced mainland ecosanctuaries to isolated marine islands, fenced off peninsulas and the ‘mainland islands’ of ring-fenced sanctuaries like Maungatautari, Orokonui and Zealandia. An article recently published in the Journal of the Royal Society of … Continue reading Ecosanctuaries in the spotlight
Now that an increasing number of our wildlife-rich – but uninhabited by humans – offshore islands are becoming predator free, the conservation spotlight is turning to some of New Zealand’s inhabited islands. But predator eradication becomes more complicated when people are living onsite. Its not just about what’s technically possible. It’s also about what people … Continue reading Hauraki Gulf islanders surveyed on pest control attitudes
Maungatautari Ecosanctuary is overflowing with tūī. They’re spilling over the predator proof fence into the surrounding community, according to an article just published in Notornis – the research journal of BirdsNZ. It’s great news for those who live near the sanctuary – especially those whose gardens include tūī favourites such as banksia, kōwhai and flowering … Continue reading Tūī spill out from Maungatautari
The ruru (morepork) is a predator – but it’s certainly not on the ‘predator-free’ hit list. Those slots are just for introduced mammal predators which haven’t co-evolved with our vulnerable native species. Ruru do prey on other native wildlife however, including endangered species, as a recent study carried out on Tiritiri Matangi Island reveals. Sarah … Continue reading Video camera study reveals rare birds in ruru diet
Approximately one-third of New Zealand’s islands are now free of all invasive mammals. Could Auckland Island be next? Predator control and eradication operations are often carried out in winter – when predators are hungry and uptake of bait likely to be greater. But when it comes to eradications of sub-Antarctic islands, like Auckland Island, the … Continue reading Would summer eradication of rodents work for Auckland Island?
The little spotted kiwi (Apteryx owenii) was probably the most common kiwi species in Aotearoa/New Zealand in the mid-1800s. Now it’s our second rarest kiwi of the 5 kiwi species. Numbers plummeted last century and it had almost disappeared from the mainland by the mid-1900s. Then 5 birds were collected in 1912 and transferred to … Continue reading DOC and volunteers count kiwi on Tiritiri Matangi
Monitoring wildlife population densities in our ‘mainland island’ fenced sanctuaries is an important part of measuring sanctuary success and assessing the longterm costs and benefits of predator-exclusion fencing. Such fences don’t come cheap, after all. But finding and maintaining the funding, personnel and motivation for longterm monitoring projects can be a challenge. If specialist expertise … Continue reading Citizen science monitoring method outlined and tested
The kākāpō population is outgrowing its island refuge – but where might future kākāpō live? In a predator free future, the answer could include protected mainland sites provided there are sites that are big enough, safe enough and with the right kind of habitat for kakapo to thrive. If those likely sites can be identified … Continue reading Study seeks future homes for kākāpō
Has your community group identified specific longterm conservation goals? What outcomes do you expect to see from the many hours of volunteer work that your team puts in? Have you thought about how your project contributes to the wider New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy? In a recent report published in the New Zealand Journal of Ecology, … Continue reading Community groups under the microscope
Many of NZ’s introduced mammal predators – including house mice – are good at climbing trees. To understand the impact they have on tree-nesting birds and other tree-living wildlife, we need to learn more about how predators use vegetation compared with the ground. Mice aren’t commonly found in trees, for example, but that changes in … Continue reading Tree-climbing habits of predators studied
New Zealand’s regional councils have just released a ‘think piece’ on the future of biodiversity management in New Zealand. “Our native flora and fauna is a taonga that does much to define us as a nation. It’s also under threat, and we are losing ground in many cases. This timely thinkpiece suggests how we could … Continue reading Regional Councils tackle biodiversity challenge
Predator control for conservation purposes tends to focus on reserves, sanctuaries and remnants of native habitat rather than open pastures. When researchers publish articles on pastural predator control, they’re generally focused on possums and TB eradication. But landscape scale predator control on multi-tenure farmland is increasingly playing a part in Predator Free 2050 goals and … Continue reading Hawke’s Bay study shows predator control contributes to farmland biodiversity
The research happened a decade ago now – this paper was published back in 2008 – but how many people have even heard of the large, carnivorous Mercury Island tusked weta (Motuweta isolata), let alone the extraordinary story of its step back from the cliff-face of extinction? Despite its large size (adult body length 46–73 … Continue reading How a tusked, carnivorous weta was saved
House mice are the smallest mammal predators to have been introduced to Aotearoa/New Zealand since humans first arrived here around 1280AD. The mice arrived on European ships by the 1820s and nowadays they are present in most habitats throughout the country. Worldwide they are among the world’s most prevalent invasive mammals due to their rapid … Continue reading Mice numbers in the absence of mammal predators
Public conservation land is only a small proportion of the total land of New Zealand and isn’t necessarily representative of the full range of ecosystems. David Norton (School of Forestry, University of Canterbury, Jason Butt (Environment Canterbury) and David Bergin (Environmental Restoration Ltd) look at how we can sustain and enhance native biodiversity on private … Continue reading Upscaling restoration – 8 things to consider
Passerines are songbirds which can perch. More than half of all bird species are passerines and many of those found in Aotearoa/New Zealand are unique. Some, such as the South Island saddleback, South Island robin and mohua also have a few other attributes in common: they’re rare, very vulnerable to stoats and are relatively poor … Continue reading Poor fliers reluctant to cross water
Predator Free Great Barrier or Stewart Island? It’s already technically feasible. But is it socially feasible?When it comes to complete eradication of predators on inhabited islands there’s a lot more to consider than just the conservation benefits and technical aspects. People, their livestock, their pets and their lifestyle are all going to be impacted. In … Continue reading Eradication – what about the social impacts?
The A24 self-resetting trap has been around for a year or two now, but development of the product and testing of its capabilities continues, along with evaluations of how best to utilise the traps in ‘real world’ predator eradications. Darren Peters from DOC, along with the team from Goodnature have recently been putting A24s to … Continue reading A24 vs Stoats – island experiment deemed a success
It has been estimated that between 25,000 and 45,000 people belong to community-based environmental groups in New Zealand. That’s a lot of volunteer work and, as the estimate was made in 2011, numbers since then are likely to have grown. There’s also a pretty wide range of uncertainty in those estimated numbers – 25,000 to … Continue reading Survey investigates huge volunteer contribution
In geologically ancient times, Banks Peninsula was a group of volcanic islands and even now is only connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of land. That makes the Peninsula of particular interest as a possible trial site for non-fenced mainland predator eradication. So could it be done? Using current technology, could Banks Peninsula … Continue reading Achieving a predator free Banks Peninsula – costs revealed
Last year, when the NZ Government announced its Predator-Free 2050 goal, it also included some interim goals to be achieved by 2025 – now just eight years away. One of those goals is that: ‘by 2025 we will have eradicated all mammalian predators from New Zealand’s island nature reserves’. It sounds ambitious for an 8-year … Continue reading PF 2025 interim goals – what will it take?
When planning began for Maungatautari Ecological Island Sanctuary, no-one knew that a population of New Zealand’s endemic Hochstetter’s Frog lived within the sanctuary’s planned fenceline. For once, one of our threatened species was in the right placed at the right time and it’s discovery was an exciting surprise… Hochstetter’s Frog is classified as ‘At risk … Continue reading Serendipity helps Hochstetter’s Frogs
We can do island eradications. We’re the world’s best at it. Mainland, regional-scale predator control is one of the next big predator-free challenges and a key part of that challenge is getting every landholder behind the project. What happens if some landholders don’t want to be involved? Will their inaction jeopardise the project? Just how … Continue reading Landholders and landscape scale predator control
Returning from an overseas trip, New Zealanders all know the drill – biosecurity is paramount – and no, you can’t carry on eating that fresh fruit you brought with you once you leave the plane. But how many of us think about biosecurity as we head off to the beach for summer? If you’re planning … Continue reading Mammal-free islands – a biosecurity challenge
Often when predators are eradicated from an island, it’s the first stage in planned reintroduction of native species to the sanctuary, but 26 years ago when the last introduced mammals removed from Burgess Island, the island was simply left, predator-free to recover naturally. Burgess Island/Pokohinu is the second-largest island in the Mokohinau group, near Great … Continue reading Island recovery left to happen naturally
Eric Spurr and Nicholas Ledguard from the Ashley-Rakahuri Rivercare Group share the results of their group’s extensive predator control and bird monitoring work from 2000-2015 in a recently published issue of Notornis, the journal of the Ornithological Society of New Zealand. The Ashley River is a braided river in North Canterbury (near Rangiora) where eight … Continue reading Rivercare group shares predator control outcomes
The kiore appeared and the moa disappeared in pre-European times, but no-one can argue that the majority of Aotearoa/New Zealand’s predator and other pest introductions, habitat loss, extinctions and near-extinctions have happened in the last 150-200 years since pakeha settlers arrived. Recently published research by Matthew Harms looks at the Maori perspective in a community-based … Continue reading Maungatautari – a Maori conservation perspective
Trap-wary stoats got caught out by a change in predator control regime according to research just published in July this year. The research, carried out by DOC scientists and published in the New Zealand Journal of Zoology, took place in the 9800 ha Whangarei Kiwi Sanctuary. The results showed why it’s good to mix it … Continue reading Research shows what’s working for kiwi and kaka
Research and innovation mean that the options for helping out our native species are increasing all the time. First, there were small, predator-free island sanctuaries, then bigger islands and then there was Zealandia – the world’s first fully-fenced urban ecosanctuary. Mainland sanctuaries are now being developed across New Zealand – but there is some serious … Continue reading Doing the sums – what are the best predator control options?
For thousands of New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic mice, the next few weeks are the final countdown. With just a few weeks to go until mouse eradication begins on the sub-Antarctic Antipodes, this week’s Friday read looks at some of the key Antipodes-based research which has led us to this point – to the ‘Million Dollar Mouse’ … Continue reading Antipodes and the impact of mice
Rats are, perhaps, the ultimate invader – with a little bit of help through the centuries from humans. Where-ever we go they go too, so that ship rats have ended up on some of the remotest of the world’s islands. Today’s research review looks at studies into rats on islands, aspects of rat biology that … Continue reading Rats as island invaders