You’re out walking through forest or along a beach. You find an injured bird. Maybe you find many, maybe thousands, like residents of the Kapiti Coast did recently when a southerly storm delivered a “prion wreck” to our shores. What should you do?
The prion-wreck last month was a natural event. Prion-wrecks occur every 10-30 years or so, although this was a big one. Most were broad-billed prions and New Zealand is home to more than a million of them. They are also common in Argentina, Australia, Falkland Islands, Peru, South Africa and many of the islands in between.
Emperor penguins, like Happy Feet who recently stole our hearts and “swallowed” our cash, are also remarkably common in the wild with an enormous range across Antarctica. These species are not rare, vulnerable or endangered. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists them as of ‘least concern’.
Studying something that his children’s children may never see adds a certain urgency and poignancy to Simon Davy’s daily routine.
The United Kingdom-born associate professor in Victoria’s School of Biological Sciences is New Zealand’s only active coral symbiosis physiologist. His research focus is on the symbiotic relationship between algae and invertebrates, such as corals, and coral bleaching and disease.
Coral reefs cover just a fraction of the planet—estimated to be an area about the size of New Zealand—but are a vital part of the marine eco system and the economies of communities that rely on them for food, fish, building materials and tourism dollars.
“It’s old news to us that the reefs are going to die within 50 to 100 years,” says Dr Davy. “Climate change is the longer term threat but pollution and practises such as dynamite fishing are, if anything, a bigger problem because they are working much faster.”
Some years back, Dr Davy and a colleague were the first scientists to discover viruses in corals and the breakthrough sparked his interest in the broader topic of coral diseases.
He says corals are highly complex. They contain tiny algae which process light energy and provide the host with essential nutrients. When water temperatures rise, the micro-algae are expelled and the coral loses its colour and may die.
Climate change increases value of Kiwi native plant
The golden sand sedge – pingao – has won the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network’s 2009 favourite plant poll, and could be a valuable defence against climate change effects.
The pingao topped more than 100 species in the annual poll. Network President Philippa Crisp said that pingao would become increasingly important in combating the effects of climate change, particularly as an increasing number of coastal homes came under threat
“If the global plan to fight climate change stalls and sea level rises occur, pingao will become even more important to New Zealanders because it plays an important role in stabilising sand dunes and creating a beach contour that is not so vulnerable to storm events and sea level rises,” Dr Crisp said. “Pingao may be our only sustainable hope for coastal protection”.
Auckland Zoo is inviting Kiwis to join it in leaping into the global Amphibian Ark Year of the Frog campaign, which will be helping to save the four endangered New Zealand native frog species.
Tonight’s Wild Bean Cafe ZooMusic Katchafire concert will help raise funds for in-the-field testing for amphibian chytrid fungus in Hochstetter’s frogs. It marks the first of a number of events and activities the zoo will run through to March 2009 to generate awareness of and support for frog conservation.
After thriving for over 360 million years, a third of the world’s 6300 amphibian species are now threatened with extinction. Despite new species being discovered, scientists say extinctions are exceeding discoveries.
Topping the list as the most evolutionarily distinct and critically endangered amphibian on the planet is New Zealand’s own native Archey’s frog – for which Auckland Zoo has a dedicated breeding and research facility. New Zealand’s other three frog species – Hamilton’s, Maud Island, and Hochstetter’s all fall within the top 100 most threatened amphibians These, and thousands of other amphibians, are in crisis due to the deadly disease amphibian chytrid fungus (not treatable in the wild) as well as habitat loss, pollution, pesticides, introduced species, and climate change.
click on images for larger ( phone camera ) versions
Five finger of various variety , plus many of the broad leaf plants and smaller trees, have very much made a strong comeback, with not only seedlings quite thick on the bush floor in many places, but with many of the third season plants more than two meters tall and bearing flowers, fruit and seed.
this is quite in contrast to both how it was and still is on the other side of the river, this does show quite well that the river, acting as a barrier is working very well with almost no sign of any possum browse anywhere within the forest area currently being looked after .
Mauriceville village will be further enhanced next month with the planting of native trees and shrubs during a HondaTree Fund Community Planting Day. The HondaTree Fund has provided the funding to purchase 300 trees and shrubs for this year’s event along with mulch and fertiliser.
The event has been organised to infill the areas planted during last year’s inaugural community planting day when 1000 native trees and shrubs were planted. more
Scientific research being carried out in the Ngāi Tūhoe forests in
the central North Island is delivering valuable knowledge about
indigenous forest ecosystems and giving Maori landowners tools to
restore and preserve their native forest resource.
Over the past four years, Landcare Research scientists have been
working with the Tuawhenua Trust, to investigate why some canopy tree
species in the mainly forest-covered 10,000 hectares of land which is
dotted through the Urewera National Park and are managed by the Trust,
are not regenerating adequately. more