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
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 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
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
If you find a dead bird in an area after a toxin operation it’s an easy leap to say “the poison did it”. But was the dead bird poisoned? The only way to know is to test for toxin levels – and that’s exactly what Landcare Research (Lincoln) scientists Grant Morriss, Graham Nugent and Jackie … Continue reading Bird by-kill – what research reveals
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?
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
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
Rats are quick and nimble. Snails… not so much. So our native snails are very much at the mercy of introduced rats, should rats choose to eat them. What’s more, there are a surprisingly large number of native snail species to protect. New Zealand has, in fact, one of the most species-rich land-snail fauna in … Continue reading Rats – are they gastropod gourmets?
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
If we knock back ferrets and feral cats will rabbit numbers soar? It is a concern that’s frequently raised, particularly in farming areas where rabbit control is already an issue. As rabbits are the main prey of ferrets and feral cats, it seems intuitively logical that rabbits will thrive without their predators. But there is … Continue reading What about the rabbits?
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
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?
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
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
Have you ever wondered what kind of wildlife hang out in your garden? There are sure to be birds, but are there weta in your woodpile? Do geckos lurk in your trees and bushes? Are skinks secretly sunbathing on big warm stones or in the longer grass? Skinks and geckos can be secretive. They scuttle … Continue reading Going on a Backyard Safari
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
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 – 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?
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
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
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?
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?
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
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 – 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
Environmental monitoring is more than just a modern conservation buzzword. It’s an essential tool in determining whether all those volunteer hours put in by your community group is achieving positive, measurable change. Positive change is not just dead rats, dead possums and a truckload of weeds removed. Was the removal of those predators and pest … Continue reading Monitoring matters
New Zealand’s entire black robin population once consisted of a mere 5 birds and all black robins surviving today are descended from one breeding pair from the 1970s – the legendary ‘Old Blue’ and her mate ‘Old Yellow’ who literally saved their species. They had some help from the equally legendary Don Merton along with … Continue reading Genetic diversity and bats
The detrimental effects of New Zealand’s larger mammal predators are very well documented. Everyone surely knows the devastation caused by rats, possums and stoats. So what about mice? At this time of year they can be a nuisance in your pantry and a worry to your wiring – but what are the impacts of mice … Continue reading Skinks, geckos (and 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
We know New Zealand’s native birds aren’t thriving – but what about the little guys – the VERY little guys? What’s happening with our insects and other invertebrates? Today’s Friday blog looks at what recent research can tell us about our smallest natives: what some of their challenges are and what we can do to … Continue reading Invertebrates – looking after the little guys
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
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
No-one wants to see the birds and other wildlife we’re trying to protect, killed or in any way harmed by the very methods we use to protect them from predators, either by consuming bait or being accidentally caught in traps. It’s a delicate balance and often a controversial subject where strong opinions are held. Today … Continue reading Bait residue issues
Possums are a huge problem in New Zealand – and consequently the subject of a great deal of research. Most of that research, understandably, focuses on the forests and forest remnants where they are most commonly found. But what about those urban possums, patrolling the rooftops at night, raiding fruit trees and decimating roses? A … Continue reading Understanding possums
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
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
The battle for the bush (and swamp, riverbed and shore) is being fought not just on the ground in New Zealand, but also in research labs and on computer screens around the country. New ideas are being brainstormed and innovations in predator control are being computer-modelled and tested in the field. So what have some … Continue reading Mice, rats and multi-capture traps