Back in 2017, PFNZ Trust talked to Otago Zoology student Jamie McAulay about his Masters research on the diet of stoats. Well the Masters is done and dusted and Jamie’s thesis is now available online through the University’s ‘OUR Archive’ site. So what has Jamie found out? The research project looked specifically at the diet … Continue reading Jamie’s thesis reveals diet preferences of alpine stoats
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
Control possums, rodents and large introduced grazers and the forest understorey explodes with growth. It’s easy to think that this is what the original forests of Aotearoa must have looked like, before Man and other mammals arrived. But ancient Aotearoa had its own large herbivores – the various moa species, that grazed the forest understorey. … Continue reading Moa vs Deer – are they so different?
Monitoring is an essential part of measuring the success of a predator control programme, but monitoring methods used in forests may not be directly applicable to wetlands. Tracking tunnels may not work, for example, where water levels fluctuate significantly. It was an issue that faced Department of Conservation researchers Craig Gillies and Matthew Brady at … Continue reading Monitoring methods trialled in Whangamarino wetland
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
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?
New Zealand researchers have been taking a closer look at the family histories of Man’s long-time travelling companion – the rat. Genealogy meets gene analysis in this study, carried out by Auckland University researchers James Russell, Judith Robins and Rachel Fewster and published this month in the international journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. Kiore … Continue reading Rat genetics tracks invasion back through time
It’s a world-wide trend and New Zealand is not immune. Wetlands are being lost – 90% of New Zealand’s wetlands have disappeared since European settlement. “Freshwater swamps, bogs, gumlands, pākihi, fens, marshes and seepages, are estimated to have occupied 9% of the New Zealand land mass or 2,500,000 hectares prior to European settlement. It is … Continue reading Loss of wetlands continues
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
Sometimes ‘old’ just can’t be beat! That certainly seems to be the case for old forest remnants, at least as far as our indigenous insects are concerned, according to research recently published in the New Zealand Journal of Ecology. Urban gardens can be full of plant variety and buzzing with insects. But take a closer … Continue reading Old forest remnant shows its worth
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
Most wild birds and animals don’t survive long if they go blind. Not so, our kiwi. The discovery of otherwise healthy, but blind wild kiwi living successfully on the South Island’s West Coast has revealed just how little kiwi rely on their visual senses. For kiwi, it’s all about smell, hearing and vibration. Most birds … Continue reading Blindness no big deal for Okarito wild kiwi
Not only do kea nest on the ground, but it takes about 4 months from egg-laying until kea chicks fledge. Four months is a long time to be sitting on the ground facing off the local stoats. Kea eggs, chicks and even adult incubating females are very vulnerable to predation. Aerial application of 1080 can … Continue reading Kea and 1080 – nesting success demonstrated
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
As families and sometimes pets head off to holiday spots for summer, now is a good time to remember that dogs – even Pekinese and the family poodle – can be a deadly threat to kiwi. An exploratory grab can crush the fragile bones of a bird’s chest, even if the dog is ‘retrieving’ rather … Continue reading Study evaluates kiwi aversion training for dogs
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
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
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
You don’t hear so much about weasels. Their New Zealand distribution is patchy and their bigger mustelid relatives tend to dominate the mammal predator stories. But when there was a mast year in 2014, weasels as well as stoats turned up in the beech forests of Nelson’s Maruia Valley to feast on the bonanza of … Continue reading Weasels studied during Maruia masting event
It’s not quite a sugar-coated pill, but the principle is similar – a nice flavoured coating that not only encourages rodents to take the bait, but also protects the toxic cereal bait within from deteriorating over time and going mouldy. Norway rats, in particular, have been found to avoid mouldy bait. Research recently published in … Continue reading Researchers study new ways to stop bait going mouldy
Canterbury’s Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust has been working with Department of Conservation staff and researchers from Lincoln and other universities to eradicate introduced mammals from the island and document their processes, successes and learning outcomes in an article recently published in the New Zealand Journal of Zoology. “Ōtamahua/Quail Island is an 85 ha Recreation … Continue reading Lessons learned in combating mice on Quail Island
Conservation articles can be full of doom and gloom and struggle. But what about the success stories out there? An article just published online in the Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand looks at 7 conservation success stories from the last 30 years. But first of all, how do you define a conservation … Continue reading Identifying the success stories in conservation
Researchers from Landcare Research and Tūhoe Tuawhenua Trust recently worked together to look at community-based monitoring by Māori to assess forest health. They talked with 55 forest users from the Tuawhenua tribal group, carrying out 80 interviews in both Māori and English, over a period of 10 years, to get a better understanding of Māori … Continue reading Tūhoe share memories of how their forests used to be
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
D-Block bait and DITRAC All-Weather BLOX are two commonly used, long-life rodent baits with the same active ingredient, the anticoagulant Diphacinone. Rats and mice need to consume bait over several days to get a lethal dose, so it’s important to keep them coming back for more. Although the toxin is the same, the two bait … Continue reading Bait consumption study shows what appeals to rats
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
There are a lot of cats in Australia – researchers have calculated that the total number of feral cats in largely natural landscapes averages 2.07 million (varying between 1.4 million in drought and average years to 5.6 million after prolonged and extensive wet periods in inland Australia). Then there are the strays (an estimated 0.72 … Continue reading Feral cats feast on Australian reptiles
Peanut butter has long been used as a bait for rat traps. Possums have a fondness for the scent of cinnamon. But are they the all-time favourite foods of rats and possums? Researchers at Victoria University of Wellington used chew cards to check out what really tickles the tastebuds of two of our more common … Continue reading Better baits and better trapping
With the benefit of hindsight, its easy to condemn those who released rabbits in New Zealand and even more so, those who then released ferrets and stoats to ‘remedy’ the earlier error. What were they thinking? Did they really have no other control options open to them? Were they completely unaware of what the consequences … Continue reading Ferrets and Rabbits – and what history can teach us
We know a lot about the impacts of introduced mammal predators in wild environments and about how to control their numbers in forests and remove them entirely from uninhabited islands. What we don’t know so much about, is the lives and impacts those predators in places where people also live. How can introduced predators best … Continue reading Managing predators where people live too
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
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
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
We’ve a lot still to learn about our lizards. In some of the remoter parts of Aotearoa/New Zealand, new species of skinks and geckos are being discovered even today and the role of our reptiles in the wellbeing of the wider ecosystem has not been widely investigated. A recent article by Debra M. Wotton et … Continue reading Seed-spreading role of lizards investigated
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
Like many modern-day medicines, rodenticides are often derived from natural sources. Plants may evolve toxic chemicals to protect them from grazers for example, and sometimes all that distinguishes a beneficial drug from a toxic poison is the dosage. In a recent issue of the NZ Journal of Zoology, Charles Eason, ecologist with Lincoln University (Lincoln) … Continue reading Rat poisons and human medicines have natural links
Cats and dogs are both predators of rats – but to what extent is the presence of cats and/or dogs a deterrent to rodents? How do you even measure how ‘nervous’ a rat feels? Scientists in far-off Swaziland used some interesting techniques to determine how uneasy rats felt in the presence of their natural predators. … Continue reading Investigating a rat’s ‘landscape of fear’
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. … Continue reading Eradication – what about the social impacts?
Not every species can be saved by moving it to a predator free island. It has helped the black robin – but it won’t help the black-fronted tern. Islands simply don’t have the habitat that the terns need to breed. Black-fronted terns have a small, declining population and are classified as globally endangered. Predation is … Continue reading No sanctuary option for terns
Kea curiosity can be fatal. The Kea Conservation Trust is urging people carrying out ground-based predator control in kea habitat to take extra precautions to avoid injury or death to kea. Together with kea specialists and predator control advisors, the group has put together a Best Practice Guide aimed at reducing injury or death to kea … Continue reading Key tips for keeping kea safe
In New Zealand we tend to focus on the harm rats do to our wildlife and ecosystems. But there’s another side to rats that’s even closer to home – their ability to carry diseases and parasites to people. From pig farms in Canada to the slums of Brazil, recent international research has been looking at … Continue reading Rats and human disease links
When it comes to predation risks, it helps if you’re big and have attitude – especially if your breeding colony is on the mainland. Westland Petrels are both big and feisty and appear to be able to cope with some of our more common introduced villains. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not at risk. … Continue reading Feisty petrels still at risk from predators
The technology associated with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) is getting smart and sophisticated. These intriguing little machines are more than just Christmas toys. High-end models are proving their worth in a whole variety of ways including detecting water deficiencies in agricultural crops and mapping invasive species. They’re even being trialled as a delivery method by … Continue reading Tools for a predator-free future
When mammal predators first arrived in Aotearoa/New Zealand, our native species didn’t know what had hit them and their naiveté led to some rapid extinctions. Have our surviving species ‘wised up’ to mammal threats in the last century or so? If so, what happens when birds are moved to predator free islands or are protected … Continue reading Thesis explores anti-predator adaptive behaviour
Tracking tunnels, chew cards and WaxTags© are commonly used to detect predator presence and monitor abundance, but in recent years there’s been a new tool in the conservation kit – the remote camera. Evaluations of its use are showing that it is a tool with a lot of promise and some significant advantages over traditional … Continue reading Detecting predators in the city – what works best?
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
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
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?
Anticoagulant poisons are commonly used to kill rats in New Zealand and around the world. But at least 18 countries in Europe, America and Asia have reported growing resistance in their rat populations to these poisons. Are our rats growing bait-resistant too? Phil Cowan et al from Landcare Research investigated. “Rats, except kiore, are currently … Continue reading Rat bait resistance – should we be worried?
It could have been so much worse… red foxes, Patagonian foxes, mongooses (or should that be mongeese?) – even badgers were proposed as a solution to New Zealand’s rampant rabbit problem back in the late 1800s. One entrepreneur actually thought burrowing owls might sort the rabbits out. Prof Carolyn King from Waikato University uncovered some … Continue reading Narrow escape makes horror reading
Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) and black rats (also known as ship rats), (Rattus rattus), are among the most prolific and widespread urban pest species in the world. But what do we know about their secret city lives? After all – the more we know, the better we can understand what we’re up against. Just because … Continue reading Secret life of urban rats revealed
When stoats were recently captured on video raiding the spring nests of rock wren, yet tracking tunnels failed to detect their presence, scientists became concerned about the effectiveness of tracking tunnels as a monitoring method in alpine regions. Was there a better way to detect stoats? How did other monitoring techniques compare with tracking tunnels … Continue reading Capturing the cryptic – finding better ways to detect stoats
Stoats tend to vie with rats for the position of Conservation Public Enemy No. 1 – but what do we know about the stoat’s smaller relative, the weasel? Do we underestimate their impact on native wildlife? Kathryn Strang, Isabel Castro, Greg Blunden and Lara Shepherd examined the stomach contents of 16 weasels caught between 2011 … Continue reading Not just mouse-munchers – the diet of weasels revealed
Over a year has gone by. The mice are gone (although final proof won’t come until a revisit in 2018). On Antipodes Island, 760km southeast of Dunedin, 21 species of seabirds and 4 unique species of ground birds, will be preparing to raise their young in an environment completely free of introduced mammalian predators. Hundreds … Continue reading Antipodes Island – mouse free and back on course
Rats and mice aren’t just our problem. They’re some of the most widespread and damaging invasive alien species on islands globally. A team of scientists lead by Karl J. Campbell from Island Conservation and including New Zealand-based scientists Al Glen and Charles Eason, have carried out an indepth review of what’s just over the horizon … Continue reading What next for rats and mice?
Kakariki, our native parakeets mostly nest in holes in trees, where the female incubates the eggs for around 3-4 weeks. That makes female kakariki, as well as the young, particularly vulnerable to predators and could potentially lead to a male bias in the adult population. Red-crowned kakariki are now only common on predator-free islands and … Continue reading Predators vs Parakeets
Stoats are emerging as a key threat to our alpine wildlife as scientists learn more about predator/prey relationships in this less-studied habitat. Remote alpine zones are home to unique skinks and geckos, some of which have only recently been discovered, along with insects such as alpine weta which can survive being frozen and the tiny … Continue reading Alpine stoats caught on camera raiding rock wren nests
Before humans arrived, 78% of Aotearoa was covered in native podocarp forest. In the 700 years since we got here, 60% of that forest has gone. The good news is that at least some of our native species are managing to make do in the blocks of exotic forestry plantations that now cover approximately 7% … Continue reading Falcons learn to live an ‘exotic’ life
Rats are fastidious groomers. So how does an animal that grooms frequently react to the prospect of running through viscous tracking ink? Are rats reluctant to get their feet dirty – and if so, what are the implications for tracking tunnel monitoring? Prof. Carolyn King and fellow researchers at the School of Science, University of Waikato … Continue reading Do rats mind inky feet?
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
Birds can spend a significant portion of their lives at roosting sites – up to two thirds of their time – so it makes sense that suitable sites are important to them. With translocation being a key strategy in rare species management, it would be good to know what features our bird species value in … Continue reading What makes a great kiwi burrow?
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?
Cats, cat management and the impact of cats on conservation – it seems that everyone in New Zealand has an opinion and a significant proportion of us own at least one companion cat – but what is actually known about the multiple roles of urban cats in New Zealand? It is becoming an increasingly important … Continue reading City cats – what don’t we know and how can we find out?
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
When there’s a mouse in your pantry you notice – but in the wider environment they’re common and inconspicuous. It’s difficult to know what impact mice have in a forest or wetland environment because mice are overshadowed by – and food for – their bigger predator rivals, including rats, stoats and feral cats. So should … Continue reading Mice – should we be worried?
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’?
Ship rats are known to be good and climbing trees – but what are they like at climbing mountains? If our climate gets warmer, might rats go to new heights in the search for new territory and food? Scientists Jennifer Christie and Graeme Elliott from DOC’s Christchurch office, along with Peter Wilson and Rowley Taylor … Continue reading Rats, elevation and implications of climate change
Conservation genetics has implications for all sorts of conservation measures whether it be choosing the source birds for a translocation to a new sanctuary to ensure sufficient genetic diversity, ‘forensic’ type investigations to identify the source of a newly arrived predator on an island (where a swimming stoat has come from, for example), or research … Continue reading Conservation geneticists want to build a bridge to DOC
Breakthrough genetic technologies are likely to play a key role in achieving a predator-free future. But it’s important that we understand what the various technologies are now – as they’re being developed – not when they’re about to be implemented. We need to debate the issues and become as informed as possible; to know if … Continue reading What’s the story with genetic pest management (GPM)?
Mostly we get rid of introduced predators by, well – killing predators. It works, up to a point. But if you can’t get rid of every single rat or stoat then the few survivors suddenly find themselves with ample food supplies and very little competition. They breed and they breed very successfully. Numbers climb rapidly … Continue reading Putting the case for ‘bottom up’
Why did they do it? What possessed New Zealand’s government of the day, its citizens and acclimatisation societies to introduce rabbits and then stoats? It’s easy to judge in hindsight. But perhaps we should do more than judge. A better understanding of what they were thinking at the time might help stop us making similar … Continue reading Liberation of stoats and weasels – a look back in time
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?
“Nearly 2 million tourists came to New Zealand last year. Few if any came to go shopping,” says Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, in her newly released report. “Wilderness is becoming increasingly scarce around the world, and in scarcity lies value,” she continues. Dr Wright is very clear about what she thinks … Continue reading PCE Report – More $$ for conservation, more support for groups
Preserving, restoring and creating habitats for our wildlife doesn’t just mean planting trees and saving forests. It’s not just nature reserves and national parks. Braided rivers, sand dunes, alpine regions and wetlands – farmland and even urban gardens – are important habitats too. Recommendations 4 and 5 in the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report, … Continue reading PCE Report – Birds need habitat and lots of it!
Developments in genetic science may give us the ultimate predator-free breakthrough one day, but we can’t sit back and wait for that to happen. “If we do,” warns Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, “the patient will die before the hospital is built.” Birds and other native wildlife are dying now. We need … Continue reading PCE Report – Research priorities and future promise
Jan Wright, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, has written a comprehensive assessment of the current state of New Zealand’s birds – a taonga of our nation – and has made a number of recommendations for what needs to be done about the issues we face. “Of our 168 native bird species, just 20% are doing … Continue reading PCE Report – Where’s the plan?
Last week Dr. Jan Wright released her penultimate report as Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. Titled “Taonga of an island nation”. It has been widely supported and will hopefully help focus our attention to save the species that desperately need our help. We will be delving into the report in more detail in the coming … Continue reading PCE Report — 5 Things You Need to Know
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
A predator-free New Zealand is going to require landscape scale removal of possums, rats, ferrets, stoats and weasels – and possibly other species such as mice and feral cats as well. The problem – or at least one of the problems – is how do you humanely remove some species without endangering others that share … Continue reading Genome-mining to find toxins that are species-selective
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?
We’ve got a pretty good idea of the damage being done to our native wildlife by introduced predators, but when it comes to introduced diseases, there has been little research done on the impact those diseases might be having. Take, for example, the parasitic disease avian malaria. Like human malaria, avian malaria is a mosquito-borne … Continue reading Avian malaria – is it a threat?
When scientists Patrick Garvey (University of Auckland), Alistair Glen and Roger Pech (Landcare Research, Lincoln) tested the response of 18 wild-caught stoats to the scents of bigger, dominant predators, the response of the stoats was the opposite of what they expected. The researchers used towels from the bedding of ferrets and cats (familiar top-order predators) … Continue reading Predator scent may be key to developing long-life lures
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
Rats are a uniquely serious problem on islands such as New Zealand where there has been a rodent-free evolution of our wildlife and plantlife, but scientists around the world are also looking for better ways to control rats because of their disease-carrying and food-spoilage attributes. Black (ship) rats with their tree-climbing abilities are New Zealand’s … Continue reading Canadian researchers come up with innovative rat-luring techniques
Lack of forest habitat or introduced predators – which is the biggest barrier to native biodiversity in New Zealand’s lowland landscapes? Can they even be considered separately? Is there any point in restoring habitat if you don’t get rid of predators and conversely, are there any benefits from eradicating predators if the habitat available to … Continue reading Conserving biodiversity – what should be prioritised?
Rats are the introduced predator that homeowners are most likely to combat, according to the results just out from the 2016 ‘Public Perceptions of New Zealand’s Environment’ survey, with almost all respondents who had rats present, reporting that they attempted to control the rats near their home. Poison was the most frequently reported method of … Continue reading Survey reveals public predator control efforts
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
If you want to measure the abundance of birds in a forest you can count how many you see or record the birdsong you hear. But how do you monitor whether your predator control is increasing invertebrate diversity? As some of our larger invertebrates such as tree weta and stick insects are likely to be … Continue reading Frass drop – finding clues from the poos
‘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?
Wildling pines aren’t part of the mandate for Predator Free New Zealand but they are another serious invasive issue in many parts of New Zealand and research recently published in the Journal of Ecology (British Ecological Society) has revealed that some introduced mammals could be helping wildling pines to get established. It’s a complex web … Continue reading Invasive mammals help invasive pines in surprising ways
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
Wanted Alive! The South Island kokako is a bird with a price on its head – $5000 in fact for proof of its existence. So what evidence is there that this distinctive and beautiful bird does survive – and if you wanted to rediscover it, where might you want to go looking? Back in 2014 … Continue reading Wanted alive – where might SI kokako be found?
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
‘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
While PFNZ Trust focuses on 5 key introduced predator species (possums, rats, ferrets, stoats and weasels), we acknowledge that domestic pets – both cats and dogs – are also introduced predators and are potential killers of native wildlife if allowed to stray. Wandering dogs can and do kill kiwi and penguins when they encounter them. … Continue reading Tracking cats on Rakiura/Stewart Island
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