A kākā peeks out of a tree

Sugar intake of kākā measured at ecosanctuary feeders

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

Bats influenced by rainfall when visiting unique ‘wood rose’

Short-tailed bats are the main pollinators of New Zealand’s only fully parasitic flowering plant – the wood rose (Dactylanthus taylorii), known to Māori as te pua o te rēinga. Both the bat and the wood rose are endangered, but we still have a lot to learn about the feeding/pollinating relationship between them. Researchers Zenon Czenze … Continue reading Bats influenced by rainfall when visiting unique ‘wood rose’

Breeding wrybills face multiple challenges

Wrybills, the little shore birds with a bend in their beak, are only found in New Zealand. They breed on the South Island’s braided rivers with well-camouflaged eggs and chicks to help protect them from flying predators. But camouflage is no protection against mammal predators who hunt by scent. Does predator control help improve survival … Continue reading Breeding wrybills face multiple challenges

Predator pitfalls for live-trapped lizards

A common way to monitor what insects or lizards are around, is to use a live-capture pitfall trap which skinks, geckos and ground-based insects then fall into. With lizards, slices of pear or sometimes petfood are used to attract them to the trap. But lizards and insects might not be the only species to take … Continue reading Predator pitfalls for live-trapped lizards

Sheep, beef farms have significant conservation potential

Productive land such as farms, horticulture and lifestyle blocks make up 60% of the land area in New Zealand and often contains native vegetation. Such land could – and often already does – make a significant contribution towards conservation goals. But currently we know very little about the amount and types of native vegetation located … Continue reading Sheep, beef farms have significant conservation potential

Tūī on a harakeke showing it's iridescent feathers in the sun

If our native birds were gardeners, what would they plant?

Native plants are a good way to attract native birds to your garden. No matter how small, you can always make your backyard more attractive to native birdlife by providing food, water, shelter, and nesting places/materials.  You can break down the diets of our native birds into nectar, fruit, foliage and insects. By planting a … Continue reading If our native birds were gardeners, what would they plant?

A grey skink on a rock

A glimpse of the social life of Otago skinks

Researchers have recently been studying the social life of our native skinks – and yes, skinks really do have a social network. Who would have thought it? Otago skinks (Oligosoma otagense) living in a large enclosure at Ōrokonui Ecosanctuary were the subjects of this unusual study of skink society. The research was carried out by … Continue reading A glimpse of the social life of Otago skinks

A couple of patake against green background

Researchers evaluate what pāteke need for successful reintroduction

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

Female dotterel on nest

Longterm banded dotterel study shows predator control benefits

Annual bird counts show that banded dotterels have been declining on our braided rivers for many years. But there’s good news amongst the bad. A recently published analysis of longterm population trends, using data from 1962 to 2018, reveals just how big that decline has been – and how one riverbed in Mid-Canterbury is going … Continue reading Longterm banded dotterel study shows predator control benefits

Green gecko on a leaf

New home for barking geckos in successful penned release

Small, slow-moving in cold weather and with limited defenses other than camouflage and hiding, our skinks and geckos are vulnerable to predators – but efforts to relocate some of them to sanctuaries haven’t always been successful. Researchers have been refining their methods, however, and a recent translocation of barking geckos suggests they’re definitely on the … Continue reading New home for barking geckos in successful penned release

A bridge amongs ferns

What’s outside the fence matters too

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

Chris Goulding from DOC holding a great spotted kiwi/roroa during a release in Kahurangi National Park in 2016. Photo: DOC (via Wikimedia Commons).

Volunteers monitor kiwi dispersal for 8 years

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

Weka and chick

Are weka ‘good predators’?

Weka can be engaging and entertaining, but their opportunistic appetite for other birds’ eggs and chicks can cop them some controversy. They’re not always welcome at ecosanctuaries, for example, even though their own numbers are threatened. Native predators like weka, harrier hawks and falcons were once part of a balanced ecosystem. Not all wildlife predators … Continue reading Are weka ‘good predators’?

Lizards counted on predator free Kāpiti Island

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

Rifleman on a branch

Less stress = translocation success for tiny rifleman

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

Image of vineyards

‘Wine wētā’ makes itself at home in Marlborough vineyards

It’s not often you hear of native species benefitting from human modifications of its habitat – but one little-known wētā species has gone against trend and embraced the changes in its world. It’s been nicknamed the ‘wine wētā’ due to its fondness for hanging out in Marlborough vineyards and scientists have recently been trying to … Continue reading ‘Wine wētā’ makes itself at home in Marlborough vineyards

Tūī numbers treble in predator control study

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

A flying bat in the night

Native bats may have fern dispersal role

University of Auckland researchers, James Brock and Kathleen Collier, have discovered yet another reason why we really should appreciate our native bat species. It seems short-tailed bats have a role to play in spreading fern spores throughout the forest, helping the spores to spread a greater distance than they might otherwise manage without a helping … Continue reading Native bats may have fern dispersal role

A wētā on a tree fern

Study compares beetle and wētā responses to mammal eradication

Wētā are one of our most studied insects and are regarded as ‘bioindicators’ of the health of forest ecosystems. So when introduced predators – including mice – were removed from Maungatautari, the response of the local wētā population was followed closely by researchers. But how well does the wētā response reflect what’s happening to other … Continue reading Study compares beetle and wētā responses to mammal eradication

Image of a fantail sitting on a branch

Putting the case for using Māori bird names

Should we be making a greater effort to use Māori bird names in science communication and environmental reporting – promoting their wider everyday use in the community? The answer seems an obvious yes! If fact we already have tūī, kea and kākā, for example. So what’s stopping us? Priscilla Wehi, Lyn Carter, Te Waiarani Harawira, … Continue reading Putting the case for using Māori bird names

A group of little penguins

Little penguin breeding success includes ‘triple brooding’

Little penguins in Kaikōura have been doing their bit to try and keep species numbers buoyant – with multiple nesting per breeding season and some birds even resorting to a bit of partner-swapping. It all helped bring successful fledgling numbers up to 1.66 chicks per pair, according to researchers, Lindsay Rowe, Jody Weir and Alastair … Continue reading Little penguin breeding success includes ‘triple brooding’

A bee on purple lavender

Otago researchers look at uptake of wildlife gardening

Home gardens collectively make up a big chunk of the total green space in our cities, which means they have huge potential to support urban diversity. So how do we encourage more people to become wildlife gardeners? University of Otago researchers Yolanda van Heezik, Claire Freeman, Katherine Davidson and Blake Lewis invited residents of two … Continue reading Otago researchers look at uptake of wildlife gardening

A group of hoiho by the ocean

Checking up on the other yellow-eyed penguins

Yellow-eyed penguins (YEPs) are endemic and endangered and the Otago population is declining with poor breeding seasons and high adult mortality. But YEPs live in the sub-Antarctic too. Somewhere between 37% and 49% of the total YEP breeding population are thought to breed in the Auckland Islands for example – especially on Enderby Island. So … Continue reading Checking up on the other yellow-eyed penguins

A drawing depicting a Haast's eagle hunting a moa

Human impact on NZ birds measured in millions of years

The conservation decisions we make today will have an impact for millions of years! That’s the conclusion of authors Luis Valente, Rampal Etienne and Juan Garcia, who use New Zealand’s unique bird species as an example of the macroevolutionary impact of humans, in an article recently published in Current Biology. So why did this team … Continue reading Human impact on NZ birds measured in millions of years

Close up of gull against a grey sky

Drone technology offers low impact method for seabird census

The Ashburton/Hakatere River mouth in Mid Canterbury is a nesting site for large colonies of black-billed gulls and white-fronted terns and proved an ideal study site for testing the bird census capabilities of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) compared to more traditional bird count methods. When the results came in, the researchers made a bonus … Continue reading Drone technology offers low impact method for seabird census

two rūrū sit on a branch

Researchers tackle challenge of monitoring rūrū

The rūrū is Aotearoa’s last remaining native owl. It’s not considered a threatened species. In fact, it’s reasonably common and widespread, especially in forested parts of the North Island and western South Island. But rūrū do tend to nest in tree cavities, which puts females at risk from introduced mammal predators. That’s a good reason … Continue reading Researchers tackle challenge of monitoring rūrū

‘Intractable species’ prove a challenge for conservation

Why are some native species so much harder to save? Kelly Hare et al have called them the ‘intractable species’ and investigate why they continue to flounder even with rigorous conservation efforts in some cases. The authors look at 7 case studies to try and identify what’s going on and what else we might need … Continue reading ‘Intractable species’ prove a challenge for conservation

A close up of a rabbit

Identifying impediments to PF goals

Achieving Predator Free 2050 goals will take more than just a scaling-up of eradication efforts according to researchers Duane Peltzer et al from Landcare Research (Lincoln) and the University of Canterbury. They look beyond economic and technological feasibility to identify the key impediments we need to overcome, in a paper recently published in the Journal … Continue reading Identifying impediments to PF goals

A tūī perched on a harakeke

Tūī spill out from Maungatautari

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

A mottled petrel bird sitting

Researchers surprised by petrel numbers on ‘refuge’ islands

A survey of 71 islands in southern Fiordland in the summer of 2017, by researchers from Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and the Department of Conservation, found forty breeding colonies of three petrel species spread across 35 of those 71 islands, according to a report just published in Notornis, the scientific journal published … Continue reading Researchers surprised by petrel numbers on ‘refuge’ islands

two rūrū sit on a branch

Video camera study reveals rare birds in ruru diet

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

Kaikoura red-billed gull study reveals predator impacts over 52 years

If you park up at the beach with a feed of fish and chips it can seem like red-billed gulls are common and thriving. But 52 years’ worth of observations and monitoring data from New Zealand’s biggest gull breeding colony on the Kaikoura Peninsula tells a somewhat different story. Mammal predators are part of that … Continue reading Kaikoura red-billed gull study reveals predator impacts over 52 years

Future conservation role possible for urban lizard gardens

City dwellers and urban lizard gardens could play a significant role in future skink and gecko conservation in New Zealand, according to research just published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning. Turning part of your garden into some desirable reptile real estate could really make a difference. Researchers Christopher Woolley, Stephen Hartley, Rod Hitchmough, … Continue reading Future conservation role possible for urban lizard gardens

Video logger films at-sea foraging of yellow-eyed penguin

A male yellow-eyed penguin from Boulder Beach on the Otago Peninsula, recently became a video star for researchers Thomas Mattern, Michael McPherson, Ursula Ellenberg, Yolanda van Heezik and Philipp Seddon, who were investigating the use of high definition video loggers to study marine wildlife. Even the scientists were surprised by how much they could learn … Continue reading Video logger films at-sea foraging of yellow-eyed penguin

DOC and volunteers count kiwi on Tiritiri Matangi

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

Road hazards for wildlife more than just a collision risk

When you think about roads and wildlife, the first thought that springs to mind is a collision with fatal consequences. But roads can impact wildlife in a whole range of ways and more evidence is needed on the most effective ways to mitigate those impacts. Lights at night, noise as a barrier to foraging, loss … Continue reading Road hazards for wildlife more than just a collision risk

A close up of a Orange-spotted gecko.

Rare orange-spotted gecko lives only in alpine zone

There’s a rare and colourful gecko known to live in only a few boulder fields and rock jumbles in the alpine areas of Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago districts. It’s been named the orange-spotted gecko and was only discovered as recently as 1998. Not surprisingly, very little is known about the orange-spotted gecko – but … Continue reading Rare orange-spotted gecko lives only in alpine zone

Bird watchers in the forest

Citizen science monitoring method outlined and tested

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

A flying bat in the night

Hibernation or torpor? Understanding our weird and wonderful bats

Let’s be honest – New Zealand’s wildlife is weird. There are alpine weta that can freeze and thaw, kiwi with their amazing sense of smell and mammal-like behaviour, booming kakapo, carnivorous snails – and then there are our bats. The closest relatives of our short-tailed bats live in tropical locations. Our little short-tailed bat is … Continue reading Hibernation or torpor? Understanding our weird and wonderful bats

Photo: Auckland CBD (Wikimedia Commons)

Auckland’s bird biodiversity revealed

Urban landscapes are becoming recognised as important places of biodiversity. The concrete jungle can potentially be a great habitat for wildlife and having good biodiversity in our cities allows urban-dwellers to interact with nature in their daily lives. So how does New Zealand’s largest city stack up in the biodiversity stakes? Todd Landers, Samuel Hill, … Continue reading Auckland’s bird biodiversity revealed

Kākā on a branch

Thermal squeeze could put pressure on native wildlife

Thermal squeeze: it’s what happens when temperatures rise, predators spread out to higher altitudes and their vulnerable prey species are squeezed into less-than-ideal pocket habitats at the outside edges of their range. Like most predicted consequences of climate change, it’s not good news. So will it happen to New Zealand species? If so, what species … Continue reading Thermal squeeze could put pressure on native wildlife

Kōkako genetics investigated

Translocations have been an important part of North Island kōkako population recovery, but when you’re obtaining your founding birds from small relict populations it’s important to maintain and even improve genetic diversity. University of Otago Zoology Masters graduate Meghan Milner-Jones studied the genetics of kōkako in her 2018 Masters thesis, available online through ‘OUR Archive’. … Continue reading Kōkako genetics investigated

Study seeks future homes for kākāpō

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

A kiwi being held

Long-range study follows kiwi for 22 years

A 22-year study in Tongariro Forest has followed 142 radio-tagged North Island brown kiwi through 4 landscape-scale aerial 1080 operations, covering an area of 20,000 hectares. Not only did all 142 kiwi survive the 1080 drops, but the long-term study reveals a swag of other interesting information on kiwi chick survival and fantail nesting success … Continue reading Long-range study follows kiwi for 22 years

A close up of a rock wren

Latest research from Otago University and DOC investigates rock wren and 1080

Recently there have been several research projects looking at predators in the alpine environments of the South Island. It’s a completely different ecosystem to the much-studied lowland forest systems and there’s still a lot to be learnt about the key predator threats to our alpine species and how best to address those threats. In his … Continue reading Latest research from Otago University and DOC investigates rock wren and 1080

Fantail with a greenery in the background

Nesting fantails balance predators and weather risks

Rats are bad news for nesting birds – but quantifying exactly how rat density relates to nesting success of our smallest and rarest birds is difficult for a number of reasons. They’re rare – so there’s not a lot of them to study; they are likely to live in remote locations making observation difficult and … Continue reading Nesting fantails balance predators and weather risks

A close up of the Wellington green gecko

Flee or freeze – lizard responses to new mammal predators investigated

Our native skinks and geckos have evolved with predators that rely on eyesight to spot them – predatory birds, other lizards and tuatara. For a lizard, having camouflage skin and standing very, very still is a great defence if something bigger is trying to see you – not so great, however, if your predator is … Continue reading Flee or freeze – lizard responses to new mammal predators investigated

Fluffy weka fledging in long grass

Weka and 1080 – costs and benefits assessed

Weka are omnivores with a curiosity for anything new, which makes them vulnerable to 1080 poison. They’re known to swallow the types of pellets used in 1080 operations and for that reason, learning more about the costs and benefits to weka has been a recent research priority. Department of Conservation scientists Joris Tinnemans et al, … Continue reading Weka and 1080 – costs and benefits assessed

A native grasshopper amongst large stones

Insects get eaten too – so does predator control help grasshoppers?

Insects get eaten too. Scientists have reported that invertebrates have been found in 10-30% of cat guts and scats in the Mackenzie Basin, suggesting high country invertebrates, including some rare endemic grasshoppers, could be vulnerable to introduced mammal predators. Christchurch-based researchers, Jennifer Schori, Richard Maloney, Tammy Steeves and Tara Murray investigate whether reducing mammal predators … Continue reading Insects get eaten too – so does predator control help grasshoppers?

A kea on a rock

Kea survival during aerial 1080 – identifying the risks

Predator control in kea habitat is mostly by aerial 1080 – and some kea are known to have died from eating the bait. It’s not an outcome that anyone wants to see. So what are the risk factors? What might be done to mitigate those risks and why do leading conservationists, including kea experts, think … Continue reading Kea survival during aerial 1080 – identifying the risks

Clearing river islands may help nesting terns

Researchers from the University of Otago and Department of Conservation have been investigating how to improve the plight of our endangered black-fronted terns in research recently published in the New Zealand Journal of Ecology. Traps, bait stations and a Komatsu bulldozer can all help make riverbed nest-sites safer. But one key predator was still undeterred … Continue reading Clearing river islands may help nesting terns

Regional Councils tackle biodiversity challenge

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

Two kaka one nibbling the others beak

Urban reintroductions – going wild in city spaces

Suburban gardens, city parks, reserves and thoughtfully planted urban spaces can mean that our cities are surprisingly diverse in plants and habitats. But so far reintroductions of native species have been restricted to islands, fenced sanctuaries and remote habitats. If there’s a sanctuary close to your suburb, like Zealandia for example, you may reap the … Continue reading Urban reintroductions – going wild in city spaces

A Mercury Island tusked wētā amongst leaf litter

How a tusked, carnivorous weta was saved

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

Fluffy weka fledging in long grass

Time to rethink the weka’s bad-boy image

Weka don’t tend to be the first bird chosen for reintroduction in recovering habitats. Their destructive and predatory tendencies make them controversial residents in restoration projects and they’ve even been removed from some sanctuary islands to make life safer for other native birds. But new research looking at native plant seed dispersal shows the complexity … Continue reading Time to rethink the weka’s bad-boy image

A group of people planting along the coastline

‘Our Land’ statistics paint a stark picture

Statistics are a whole lot more than just a bunch of numbers. They can tell a story. They can paint a picture – and sometimes that picture just isn’t pretty. Take for instance, some of the statistics revealed in ‘Our Land 2018’, a report jointly prepared by the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ. … Continue reading ‘Our Land’ statistics paint a stark picture

Side on of a rock wren showing it's feathers and colouring

Stoats and mice top rockwren predator list

In research just published in international ornithology journal Ibis, Department of Conservation scientist Kerry Anne Weston, Colin O’Donnell, Paul van Dam-Bates and Joanne Monks investigated the impact of introduced mammalian predators in our little-studied alpine region. Their study revealed that stoats and house mice are the 2 introduced predators having the most impact on New … Continue reading Stoats and mice top rockwren predator list

An image of a South Island saddleback on a branch

Poor fliers reluctant to cross water

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

Takahe protection benefits the neighbours

How much trapping does it take to make a difference? Sometimes even a small difference can make all the difference to a species that is at a borderline point for sustaining its population. In a recent edition of the New Zealand Ornithological Society’s journal Notornis, DOC scientists Jane Tansell, Hannah Edmonds and Hugh Robertson reported … Continue reading Takahe protection benefits the neighbours

A brushtail possum on a branch

Urban possums – it’s not just about the roses

When possums live in an urban landscape, their fondness for fruit, flowers and foliage quickly makes then unpopular with gardeners. They can be noisy on the roof at night too. But the impact they’re having on local birdlife may not be quite so obvious. Well fed on apples and roses, urban possums may or may … Continue reading Urban possums – it’s not just about the roses

Urban kaka – how are they adapting to city life?

As kaka become a more familiar part of everyday suburban lives in some parts of New Zealand, the city-living parrots are also attracting the attention of researchers interested in the parrot/urban mix. How well are urban kaka learning to adapt to city life and what might be some city threats that they face? Researchers from … Continue reading Urban kaka – how are they adapting to city life?

Weka with a stone in its beak

Weka are tough – but are they tough enough?

Weka are largish, robust-looking and with a keen curiosity that suggests they’re no birdbrains. They’re also opportunist pilferers if there’s chook food around or even leftovers in the dog’s bowl. They’re tough enough that in some cases they’ve had to be eradicated from offshore islands because of their predation on more vulnerable native birds. So … Continue reading Weka are tough – but are they tough enough?

A whio duck standing on a log.

Blue ducks – how different is ‘different’?

Blue ducks (whio) live in both the North and South Island – they’re isolated by distance, but how isolated are they genetically? Physically there are visual differences – the South Island whio is larger, for example. But just how deep do those differences go? Genetic difference matters when it comes to conservation management – especially … Continue reading Blue ducks – how different is ‘different’?

Three kea on a roof

Genetic diversity – what do we know about kea?

Kea numbers are decreasing. Nesting adult females, their eggs and chicks are highly at risk from mammal predators. But are there other, invisible risks too? Extinction risk isn’t simply a numbers game – it’s not just the population size of a species that indicates whether it’s at risk of becoming extinct. It’s also the genetic … Continue reading Genetic diversity – what do we know about kea?

Kiwi in the forest

Study investigates kiwi call count parameters

Kiwi call counts are an important monitoring tool in kiwi recovery projects, but just how accurate are they? The time of night you choose, the weather, the season and other environmental factors can all potentially affect kiwi calling and best practice recommendations have been formulated to reflect this to some extent. So how much influence … Continue reading Study investigates kiwi call count parameters

Long-term study reveals bat response to predator control

As our only native land mammal, bats are both vulnerable to introduced mammal predators and potentially vulnerable to the methods used to control those predators. It is critically important therefore, that any ‘collateral’ harm done by the control method is significantly less than the damage that would have been done by the predators that are … Continue reading Long-term study reveals bat response to predator control

Serendipity helps Hochstetter’s Frogs

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

Raptors vs aliens – might it work?

‘Raptors vs aliens’ – it sounds like the latest Hollywood blockbuster, but it’s actually the title of a paper published in the NZ Journal of Zoology at the end of last year. Written by NZ Landcare Research scientists A.S. Glen and R.P. Pech, along with two Australian authors, the research investigates the complex relationship between … Continue reading Raptors vs aliens – might it work?

Alpine predator impacts little understood

What do we know about the effects of introduced mammalian predators in the alpine environment? The short answer is probably ‘not much’. DOC scientists Colin O’Donnell, Kerry Weston and Joanne Monks review the little that we do know in the latest volume of the NZ Journal of Ecology. They identify important gaps in our knowledge and … Continue reading Alpine predator impacts little understood

Alternative bird survey method investigated

‘Citizen Science’ and academia worked together in a research project near Nelson to determine the effectiveness of a predator control programme in boosting bird numbers and also to evaluate the usefulness of a bird survey method as an easy-to-use monitoring tool for volunteer conservation groups. The study was carried out from 2002-2010 and published in … Continue reading Alternative bird survey method investigated

What makes our endangered birds so vulnerable?

There are a number of physical and behavioural traits which can make New Zealand’s native bird species particularly vulnerable to introduced predators. In the absence of mammalian predators some, like the kiwi, evolved to become flightless. Others forage on the ground or nest in tree cavities where not only the chicks, but also the incubating … Continue reading What makes our endangered birds so vulnerable?

Research shows what’s working for kiwi and kaka

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 takes the long view on native species

Scientific research often involves painstaking, meticulous measurement, sometimes repeated over a period of years before the work is completed – then it has to be analysed, written up equally meticulously and an academic publisher found. Not everyone has the patience or the persistence, but the results of such attention to detail can be fascinating and … Continue reading Research takes the long view on native species