Rivercare group shares predator control outcomes

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

When rats come back…

Predator control operations are just that – they control mammal predators but do not completely or permanently remove them. Survivors breed and slowly rebuild the population numbers, aided by invasion of outsiders from neighbouring, uncontrolled areas taking advantage of an opportunity to upgrade to some better real estate: competition is less because the population is … Continue reading When rats come back…

Genetic profiling reveals source of invaders

Genetic profiling sounds like something from a crime thriller, but it is a modern scientific technique that can be used to better understand the dispersal behaviour of animals and relationships between various populations. Auckland’s various stoat population were recently the subject of a genetic profiling study which revealed intriguing information about connectivity and migration. Female … Continue reading Genetic profiling reveals source of invaders

Measuring biodiversity outcomes

A huge effort has gone into controlling possums across New Zealand for a number of years, particularly with respect to TB eradication efforts, but what do we know about the overall biodiversity outcomes? Are we on top of the problem? Has native biodiversity benefited long-term from the war waged against TB or are short-term benefits … Continue reading Measuring biodiversity outcomes

Public attitudes to pest control – what does NZ really think?

Those with the most passionate and strongly held views tend to have the loudest voices in public forums – but do they represent what most people think? Or do the strident calls of a few distort our perception of public opinion relating to an issue? A paper published in 2014 examines New Zealand attitudes toward … Continue reading Public attitudes to pest control – what does NZ really think?

Catching rats – getting the basics right

This is not about an amazing scientific breakthrough in new toxins or lures. It doesn’t reveal a science-fiction-like technological invention or genetic modification to wipe out predators. Such things happen rarely in the world of science. But what the following research projects show is that the old methods (with some modern modifications and monitoring techniques) … Continue reading Catching rats – getting the basics right

Pest-free future under the microscope

In a paper just published online (and not available in print until 2017), some of New Zealand’s top conservation scientists review the prospects for control and eventual eradication of our key mammalian pests. John Parkes, Graham Nugent, David Forsyth, Andrea Byrom, Roger Pech, Bruce Warburton and David Choquenot have written a comprehensive paper looking at … Continue reading Pest-free future under the microscope

Landcare Research takes to the tree tops in latest possum research

Landcare Research scientists have published some fascinating research recently looking at the damage possums do the forest canopy and the surprisingly long time it takes for larger trees to recover. The first paper was published in Ecology and Evolution earlier this year and full access is freely available online. Penelope Holland, Andrew Gormley and Roger … Continue reading Landcare Research takes to the tree tops in latest possum research

GPS offers aerial application alternative

Science isn’t just about the big breakthroughs – although they’re great when they happen. Mostly it’s about challenging assumptions, testing alternatives and finding new and better ways to do things. Change is incremental and improvements are constantly being integrated into the way things are done. Something might be working already, but is there another way … Continue reading GPS offers aerial application alternative

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?

Rapid eradication assessment – with online app

Just because you’re not catching anything, doesn’t necessarily mean all predators have been eradicated. Being certain that an area is completely predator-free is a challenge in island eradications where certainty is needed before endangered species can be reintroduced. But the problem also applies to mainland pest operations – how can you be sure you’ve been … Continue reading Rapid eradication assessment – with online app

Maungatautari – a Maori conservation perspective

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

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

Influencing conservation behaviour – the role of social psychology

How do you change public behaviour – for example, persuade cat owner’s to bring their pets inside? Is education the answer? Is education enough? If people just knew more about conservation issues would they become supporters and adopt conservation values themselves? Not necessarily. The reality is not everyone cares – and if they don’t care … Continue reading Influencing conservation behaviour – the role of social psychology

Doing the sums – what are the best predator control options?

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 … Continue reading Doing the sums – what are the best predator control options?

Possums and more possums – is a fur trade the answer?

Possums – those cute Aussie furballs are decimating New Zealand forests – so why don’t we just develop our fur industry and make money from the problem? After all, that’s why they were introduced to New Zealand in the first place. More rural employment, less possums – the bush grows back and New Zealand’s rural … Continue reading Possums and more possums – is a fur trade the answer?

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

Batty behaviour intrigues scientists

Many of New Zealand’s native wildlife species are not only unique, they’re downright weird. Take our singing short-tailed bats for example. Auckland University researchers Cory Toth et al have been studying their behaviour and have confirmed that they’re lek breeders. Like the kakapo parrot, male short-tailed bats sing to attract females who choose a mate … Continue reading Batty behaviour intrigues scientists

Trojan Possums – are they the next step?

It’s called the Trojan Female Technique and it’s involves a mutation in females that makes all their male offspring infertile. Because it is a gene, not a virus, it stays within that particular species and is spread from one generation to the next by breeding, not by disease. It has the potential to wipe out … Continue reading Trojan Possums – are they the next step?

Detecting predators – can you count on chew-track-cards and WaxTags?

Fundamental to a well-managed pest control programme is detecting what predators you have and monitoring the changes in abundance as your trapping regime progresses. Leg hold traps are a traditional way to achieve this, but may not be sensitive to possum presence when possum levels are at very low abundance. Recently published research puts two … Continue reading Detecting predators – can you count on chew-track-cards and WaxTags?

New ways to combat possums

Rest assured, New Zealand’s scientific community are beavering away to find new and better ways to combat possums. These are just a few of the research reports investigating possum control recently published in the New Zealand Journal of Ecology. Firstly a poison bait evaluation was carried out in a joint project by researchers from Connovation … Continue reading New ways to combat possums

Friday afternoon reads… island recovery

For thousands of New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic mice, their sojourn on the Antipodes is almost over. Endemic beetle and moth populations will finally get a chance to recover and nesting seabirds will be free of encroaching rodent harassment. The Million Dollar Mouse operation has put the spotlight on island eradications, but what exactly happens on islands … Continue reading Friday afternoon reads… island recovery

Habitat modification – complex relationships

Habitat modification – what’s good for native wildlife and what isn’t? Weta can thrive, living in the crevices provided by large introduced trees. Cutting those trees down to plant native saplings may not benefit weta – in the short-term at least. When grazing livestock are removed from regenerating native scrub, is it beneficial for native … Continue reading Habitat modification – complex relationships

Antipodes and the impact of mice

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

Braided rivers and predator monitoring

Braided river systems are rare throughout the world, but we have some superb examples in New Zealand, particularly in the Canterbury and Southland regions. New Zealand’s braided riverbeds are breeding grounds for some very special wildlife including the wrybill – the only bird in the world with a bent beak – and the very rare … Continue reading Braided rivers and predator monitoring

Wetlands and islands

This week’s Friday afternoon reads looks at predator research relating to two key habitats in New Zealand – wetlands and off-shore islands. Colin O’Donnell (Department of Conservation, Christchurch), Kay Capperton (Havelock North) and Joanne Monks (DOC, Dunedin), review research and statistics on the impacts of introduced mammalian predators on the viability of wetland birds, particularly … Continue reading Wetlands and islands

Tackling stoats

Stoats are a cunning opponent and serious villain in New Zealand’s battle to save our native species. They’re efficient predators, can travel long distance and are good swimmers. They’re also notoriously bait-shy. So what can recent NZ research tell us about the best ways to tackle stoats? First, an overview of public perceptions and what … Continue reading Tackling stoats