Top image: Part of the Te Manahuni Aoraki Project, this research is looking at the movements of the tarapiroe/black-fronted tern using GPS trackers. By late July, trackers had been paired with terns in the Cass and Upper Ōhau rivers. Below: The combined trapping network under the landscape-scale project.
Thanks to everyone who donated money to replace the Ashley Rakahuri RiverCare’s traps lost in the 01 June flood. Thanks also to Tuhaitara Coastal Park who also donated over $300 worth of DOC200 trap mechanisms. These mechanisms will go in the trap boxes being assembled and donated by Rymans MenzShed, Rangiora.
The image at the top of this page help illustrate the massive landscape-scale projects being undertaken by the Te Manahuna Aoraki Project. For more information about specific projects, see their website (and the recently published research on hedgehogs linked to under ‘Research’ below).
At the recent BRaid seminar, someone asked the ethically sticky question about the use of genetics to address the predator problem. With the advent of CRISPR gene editing technology, we had touched on the topic of genomics, gene drives, and the de-extinction of species in the past at various seminars (see here for a brief overview of the topic). Now, using CRISPR, the first marsupials have been successfully modified. We may not want this technology in Aotearoa, but it’s not going to go away, so we need to continue the discussion because we will need to be prepared for what’s coming.
Under ‘bird surveys‘ below is great citizen science report from Alison van Polanen, about their black billed gull observations 2020/21 at Strathearn Farm. It’s not often that farmers have the time to compile information like this and even better, send it to us, and it’s enormously helpful in documenting the way these birds are responding to changes in environmental conditions. As Grant Davey said during a site visit, ‘It seems to me that this is a very nice illustration of how these gulls can coexist with farming. I wish the other braided river birds were so versatile.‘
Lastly, I have accepted an invitation to speak at the Making Room for Rivers: 2021 Rivers Group Conference in Wellington, 17-19 November—just two weeks after what’s bound to be a contentious COP26, which will itself be informed by the IPCC report being released 9 August. Early hints suggest climate tipping points already are being surpassed, bringing urgency to the question of how to make room for our braided rivers. And the consequences if we don’t.
Sonny Whitelaw firstname.lastname@example.org
Reports & bird surveys:
- Field survey sheets are here (Word document). ECan can print these with the 1km reach format on waterproof paper to those river care groups that would like them.
- If you are looking for survey assistance from ECan, please let Jean Jack know: Jean.Jack@ecan.govt.nz.
- DOC’s best practice protocols for surveys is also available here (PDF). Standardising how we provide data to DOC (Andy Grant) will assist everyone with reporting and data management.
- The Lower Waimakariri River Braided River Bird Management 2020-2021 Season report is now available here.
- Strathearn Farm black-billed gull observations 2020/21(PDF).
- Rare New Zealand black-fronted tern seen in Australia for first time (Radio NZ)
The Rewilding Project: the movement to revive ‘zombie rivers’ (Stuff/The Forever Project)
- Why did climate-heating synthetic fertilisers get a (temporary) free pass? (Stuff/The Forever Project)
- Milk and Money six-part documentary series exploring the dairy industry’s impact on NZ…and what a sustainable future could look like (TVNZ)
A storm is coming — and it’s one that will drown out Groundswell’s howl (Stuff/The Forever Project)
- Interim report on invertebrate research work being done on braided rivers (PDF)
- Tallamy et al, Do non-native plants contribute to insect declines? (Ecological Entomology – open access)
- How non-native plants are contributing to a global insect decline (and birds are being impacted as well) (Yale 360 article on the above research)
- Dymond et al, Revised extent of wetlands in New Zealand (New Zealand Journal of Ecology)
- 14,000 football fields: study shows scale of NZ’s recent wetland loss (NZ Herald report on the above research)
- Rogalla et al; The evolution of darker wings in seabirds in relation to temperature-dependent flight efficiency (Journal of the Royal Society Interface)
- Whittaker et al, Female-Based Patterns and Social Function in Avian Chemical Communication (Journal of Chemical Ecology)
- Textbooks say most birds can’t smell. Scientists are proving them wrong (article on the above research)
- Foster et al, European hedgehogs rear young and enter hibernation in New Zealand’s alpine zones (New Zealand Journal of Ecology)
- Horky et al, Methamphetamine pollution elicits addiction in wild fish (Journal of Experimental Biology)
- Special Issue Science Magazine: ‘Fallback Strategies’ includes strategies to move people away from floodplains. Given that 66% of New Zealanders live on floodplains, this contentious topic segues with the need to reclaim braidplains and restore their ecosystems