2021 Braided Rivers Symposium: speakers

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Nick Ledgard (Ashley Rakahuri Rivercare Group and BRaid) is a retired forestry researcher (Scion/NZFRI) returning to ornithological roots put out as a youngster. He is a long-time OSNZ member. Currently, he spends most of his time trying to improve the lot of native birds on braided rivers (particularly on the Ashley-Rakahuri River) and pursuing his interests in farm forestry and wilding trees. He is the chairman of the Ashley Rakahuri Rivercare Group and BRaid.

Dr. Ann-Kathrin Schlesselmann (Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research) is an ecologist with great interest, expertise, and enthusiasm for linking research with conservation management. From using genetics to ecological modelling, she enjoys addressing complex issues and engaging stakeholders in the process. Her current research encompasses questions around other limiting factors to populations of native forest birds and shore birds, investigating food limitation and consequences of movement of individuals between sites and/or populations.

Dr. Jean Jack (Environment Canterbury), a land ecologist, provides advice to Ecan staff, particularly for consent processing. In the past: a student and tutor of ecology at Lincoln University where she gained a PhD in Ecology looking at Ecosystem Services of native plants in agricultural landscapes. Originally Jean is from Oakura in Taranaki with family connections back to Timaru & Lyttelton – where she now calls home.

Adrian Meredith (Environment Canterbury) studied the ecology and physiology of galaxiid fish at University of Canterbury and their unique abilities to cope with the Canterbury Environment.  He then worked for MAF Fisheries researching native larval fish dynamics in the Waikato River and the effects of thermal power generation on river fish communities including everything from eels, to whitebait to mullet.  The rest of his career has involved science advice in local government (Waikato and Canterbury) with a strong emphasis on sustainable management particularly for fish communities, and in particular ecological bottlenecks or limitations. Fish passage, critical fish habitats, and fish exclusion screening of intakes remain a strong theme.

Shaun Thomason (Land Information New Zealand – LINZ) is a biosecurity and biodiversity advisor focusing on improving the biodiversity outcomes of LINZ’s land management activities. He is also involved in a personal capacity with the Predator Free Northland community group in Wellington.

Dr. Duncan Gray (ECan) undertook training and research with the Fresh Water Ecology Research Group at the University of Canterbury.  His primary area of interest was the ecosystem function of braided rivers focussed primarily on macroinvertebrates, but including fish, groundwater and terrestrial components of food webs. Duncan has also worked in stream impacted by Acid Mine Drainage. Subsequently, Duncan spent time consulting with Golder Associates working on environmental flows and macroinvertebrate monitoring protocols. Since 2014 he has been working for the Canterbury Regional Council with a broad remit providing science advise to planning, consents and implementation as well as undertaking discrete investigations to inform that advise. Duncan has an ongoing interest in braided rivers, but strongly suspects that ‘science to inform management’ has matured while the social political beast is dragging the chain.

David Owen (Environment Canterbury): With a background in agriculture and soil conservation, David has worked for ECan as a forester, mainly on the berms of braided rivers, and as a manager of River Engineering. From 2004, he led a team that developed regional parks for the lower Waimakariri and Ashley Rakahuri Rivers. Recently, David was appointed to the role of Principal Biodiversity Advisor for Braided Rivers.

Dr Jo Hoyle (NIWA) studied natural resources engineering in Christchurch and worked as a river engineer/manager in the Tasman District for several years before completing a PhD in the field of river geomorphology at Macquarie University, Australia. Her PhD thesis focused on the effects of European settlement on the gravel-bed Hunter River. Jo currently works at NIWA in Christchurch, managing the Sediment Processes group. Her current research interests relate to the implications of river geomorphology on freshwater ecosystems, and improving understanding of braided rivers to guide river management.

Dr Colin O’Donnell (Department of Conservation) has worked on braided river wildlife since the late 1970s, particularly on fauna surveys and habitat use studies of river birds. As a principal science advisor he maintains a number of long term monitoring databases for braided river bird populations. Colin’s research focuses on threatened species and threatened ecosystems, especially the ecology of rainforest bats and birds, developing predator control techniques for forests, wetlands, braided rivers, and alpine ecosystems and developing monitoring methods for lizards and invertebrates.

Helen Greenep (Environment Canterbury) has a range of ecological interests including braided rivers, drylands, and wetlands. Her main focus is vegetation and habitats, and she is particularly interested in the dynamic nature of braided rivers and the habitat mosaic that produces. Human activities have had a severe impact on the ecological functioning of braided rivers and one of Helen’s interests is how to restore some that natural dynamism and mosaic into constrained braided river ecosystems.

Brent Barratt (Boffa Miskell started with the Department of Conservation as an ornithologist but in recent years has developed his career in the biosecurity sector.  He currently works for Boffa Miskell as a specialist in pest animal survey and control with a particular interest in landscape-scale approaches and programs with highly diverse trapping and baiting regimes.  He is currently heavily involved in aiding the development of new novel technology for pest animal tracking and control.

Grant Davey (Ashley Rakahuri Rivercare Group) is a mineral exploration geologist and hydrogeologist whose career has taken him to Indonesia, Australia, and most recently here in New Zealand with ECan. He has had a longstanding interest in birds, primarily as a photographer. Living on a bank of the Ashley River, he is now applying his technical and IT skills to support the work of several rivercare groups.

Sonny Whitelaw (BRaid) has a background in coastal geomorphology and climate change, and has worked on environmental management projects in Vanuatu, Australia, and New Zealand. She was the joint winner (with Lincoln University, DOC, and Hurunui College) of the 2014 Supreme Green-Ribbon Award for the Nina Valley Ecoblitz. The author of several novels, in 2014 she collaborated with over 100 children to produce the 220-page book Celebrating Biodiversity in the Hurunui District. Sonny has managed BRaid since 2015.