Introduction

These summer scholarship projects aim to encourage and support students continuing with post-graduate studies to focus on conservation.

Highlights

From time to time, we offer summer scholarship programmes to students at all New Zealand universities. There are over 20 co-funded projects for the summer of 2016–17. Topics cover all areas of conservation interest including tourism, recreation, historic heritage, species, ecosystems, threats to natural heritage, and social sciences.

Find current and completed projects, and potential topics for future scholarship opportunities. See summary tables.

 

Collation of DOC's freshwater fish monitoring programmes

ID: 1001
Work area: Freshwater
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Desktop exercise

Question

What freshwater fish monitoring has or is being undertaken by the Department, what are the objectives, how, where and when has the data been collected, and has data collected been reported and reviewed?

Description

This task is part of a long term programme to improve the Department's freshwater monitoring and reporting. There is currently no central database to record what freshwater fish monitoring data is currently underway, and what has been undertaken in the past. This makes reporting on fish species difficult, and risks losing data from monitoring programmes that are no longer undertaken. If the monitoring collation is completed during the scholarship, then there is an opportunity to progress this further by either a) summarising the overall freshwater fish monitoring undertaken by DOC into a summary report, and/or b) cleaning up, analysing and writing up some of the outstanding fish monitoring work, trialling new reporting templates that are currently being developed. The project will involve using excel to update and finalise the collation of all DOC's freshwater fish monitoring to create a central repository that can be searched and analysed. Person would preferably be based in DOC National Office in Wellington, as access to DOC staff, internal data and reports will be needed; however the Christchurch DOC Office could potentially be a secondary location option.

Contact

Natasha Petrove
Email: npetrove@doc.govt.nz


Surveillance method detection thresholds and control tool efficacy rates for Plague Skinks (syn. Rainbow Skink)

ID: 1002
Work area: Threats
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: It is recommended that the research should occur in stocked enclosures at known densities which will need to be somewhere suitable in the North Island.

Question

What are the detection thresholds for respective survey and monitoring methods (i.e. how many skinks have to be there before we can reliably detect that they're there using each method at a known density and frequency )? What are the removal rates for existing control techniques (i.e. what proportion of the lizards present does each control technique kill)?

Description

Previous research bids have detailed this research and will be made available on request. The success of this project within the time frame (a summer internship) will depend on having a capable supervisor in an area where plague skinks already occur; e.g. Auckland; and having the resources and support available.

Contact

James Reardon
Email: jreardon@doc.govt.nz


The foraging distribution of flesh-footed shearwaters.

ID: 1003
Work area: Marine
Status: Underway
University: Massey University
Place: Desk-based project. Would be best suited to a candidate willing to spend time in Wellington, to facilitate guidance from DOC supervisors.

Question

How can new analytical methods improve our knowledge of the foraging distribution of flesh-footed shearwaters?

Description

Flesh-footed shearwaters are ranked as at very high risk from commercial fisheries in New Zealand. They breed on a number of islands off northern and central New Zealand and were previously thought to number 25-50,000 breeding pairs, however recent estimates suggest the population is only 10-15,000 pairs and their population is considered to be in decline. Understanding the spatial foraging distribution is key to identifying and managing at-sea threats such as commercial fishing. This project would apply novel analytical methods to analyse existing tracking data to maximise our understanding of the foraging range of this species, with further potential application to other species. The data would inform a number of fisheries bycatch management processes DOC is currently engaged in, both domestically and internationally.

Contact

Igor Debski
Email: idebski@doc.govt.nz


Matauranga Maori of the New Zealand sea lion

ID: 1005
Work area: Marine
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: The work would be based in coastal Otago

Question

The name of the New Zealand sea lion: oral history, matauranga Maori of Pakake

Description

This would be an ideal project to support a Maori student. New Zealand sea lion/rapoka/whakahao, is Nationally Critical with a population of approximately 11,800. The population predominantly exists in the subantarctic Auckland and Campbell Islands. However, breeding also occurs on the Otago and Catlins coasts, and Rakiura. Due to the continued decline in pup production at the largest breeding population, in 2014 Ministers of Conservation and Primary Industries directed officials to develop a Threat Management Plan (TMP) for the species (currently in draft). A goal of the plan is to facilitate the recovery of rapoka/whakahao on the South Island and Rakiura. In doing so, sea lions and humans will come into direct contact more. To enable whanau, hapu and iwi to fulfil their kaitiakitanga responsibilities towards rapoka/whakahao, the Department is proposing a project whereby a Maori student can incorporate matauranga Maori in how we engage the public about rapoka/whakahao.While the sea lion is listed as rapoka/whakahao on the taonga species list of the Ngai Tahu Claims Settlement Act, there are other names and Ngai Tahu histories that should be appropriately recognised.

Contact

Laura Boren
Email: lboren@doc.govt.nz


Fragmentation and connectivity in the Mackenzie Basin

ID: 1006
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Mackenzie Basin and Canterbury Plains

Question

To what extent do semi-modified road side and riverine habitats provide for native invertebrate presence and population connectivity?

Description

The Mackenzie Basin is witnessing significant land surface modification through irrigation and dairy conversion. The number and scope of applications to irrigate and cultivate land filed with the Mackenzie District council is increasing. The Department of Conservation often presents ecological evidence during hearings for land modification in the basin. At hearing we may lack empirical data on both the minimum area and composition of habitat necessary for representative native invertebrates to survive in an increasingly fragmented and contrasting ecosystem. This project would examine the extent to which semi-modified road-side and river margin habitats are (or are not) sufficient to provide corridors of ecological connectivity throughout the basin, including areas of intensified dairying. The study would need to establish repeated measures at ecologically depauperate sites adjacent to areas of cultivation and irrigation as well as ecologically intact areas.

Contact

Warren Chinn
Email: wchinn@doc.govt.nz


Archey's frog monitoring trial

ID: 1007
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Coromandel Peninsula

Question

Can we monitor Archey's frog using site occupancy or similar techniques suitable for monitoring a terrestrial frog with low levels of abundance?

Description

Archey's frogs are at low abundance on the Coromandel Peninsula after a 80%+ decline in the late 1990's. Capture-recapture methods used to monitor frog populations have been trialled at two sites on the Peninsula but insufficient captures were made for data analysis. Trialling site occupancy (or a similar statistically robust technique) for this species and determining its feasibility as a monitoring method, if successful, would enable monitoring to be undertaken to determine management outcomes at priority (Category A) sites for Archey's frog protection under the Department's threatened species persistence objective.

Contact

Amanda Haigh
Email: ahaigh@doc.govt.nz


GIS modelling as a predictor for Archey's frog distribution and survey

ID: 1008
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Desktop exercise, Coromandel Peninsula

Question

Can we predict where to focus survey effort for Archey's frog by examining patterns in geological/soil information and current distribution records?

Description

Archey's frogs are at low abundance on the Coromandel Peninsula after a 80%+ decline in the late 1990's. There are large gaps in distribution that are not explained. Better understanding of how to target survey effort could improve efficiency and potentially increase our understanding of this species range on the Peninsula. This information could help focus where to undertake surveys to identify and confirm a Category A site in Southern Coromandel under the Department's threatened species persistence objective.

Contact

Amanda Haigh
Email: ahaigh@doc.govt.nz


Southern Ruapehu alpine flush browse

ID: 1009
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Southern Ruapehu (alpine area)

Question

Quantify Mt Ruapehu alpine flush browse so that we can make informed pest control management decisions

Description

This study would measure the distribution and timing of alpine flush and potentially look at the relative impact of hares and deer on the flushes. We know that hare and deer browse of the alpine flushes occurs, but we're unsure of whether hares and deer are both an issue and, if they are, then to what extent.

Contact

Nicole Dillon
Email: ndillon@doc.govt.nz


Development of Acoustic Recording Protocols for Kiwi

ID: 1011
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Massey University

Question

Using the tools and technology available today, I'd like a student to develop and test protocols for the use of acoustic recorders for kiwi (will likely have implications/applications for other species) that can be rolled out and consistent across locations. They would need to include things like placement of devices, how to set the devices, standard analysis protocols, and curation. They would also need to include an aspect of future proofing (e.g. technology will continue to improve but we need to have something in the protocol that will allow us to account for these improvements and still be able to make comparisons over time).

Description

Acoustic recording is a new tool that has great potential to reduce costs and improve monitoring for kiwi and other species. This would aid in work that the Department does as well as that of our external community and whanau/hapu/iwi partners. Currently there is little consistency in protocols and great variation in how the recordings are analysed that make it difficult to make comparisons across time and space. The technology to process these recordings is also a huge stumbling block that needs to be addressed to help make this tool more efficient and effective. Development of this tool is a priority action in the new draft Kiwi Recovery Plan 2017-2027. Just last year, the Kiwi Recovery Group identified an issue that there were multiple protocols being used; standardisation is necessary. Isabel Castro (Massey) and Rogan Colbourne (DOC) are members of the Kiwi Recovery Group who also have technical expertise in this space and may be able to assist if this gets funded. The position can sit at Massey under Dr. Castro. Also, NEXT Foundation was looking at helping to fund this project but wanted to see DOC contribute as well- to this point we have not been able to financially contribute to research. Perhaps this is an opportunity that we could use to help show DOC support (both the Kiwi Recovery Group and Carol West have previously written support letters for the Massey research into acoustic recorders).

Contact

Jennifer Germano
Email: jgermano@doc.govt.nz


Examine location information for live aquatic life permits

ID: 1012
Work area: Freshwater
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Desktop, any location

Question

What information can be collated from the permits, and how would this best be summarised

Description

DOC is responsible for authorising any movement of live aquatic life to freshwater under the Conservation Act. Old paper records have recently been entered into the departments Permissions database (repository for all approvals, permits, concessions and grazing licences). The next stage of the process is to enter location information into GIS. The project will involve finding information, rationalising information and collating it in a way that can then be interrogated in several ways through GIS. If time permits, we may provide support to the Ministry for Primary Industries who are also trying to digitise their information. The student will need to have an understanding of ARCGIS.

Contact

Natasha Grainger
Email: ngrainger@doc.govt.nz


Determining the distribution of predators of Cromwell chafer beetles (earwigs & red backed spiders) in the Cromwell chafer beetle reserve.

ID: 1013
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Cromwell Chafer beetle reserve

Question

What is the distribution of key predators of Cromwell chafer beetles inside the chafer beetle reserve

Description

A survey of the reserve to determine distribution of earwigs and red-backed spiders. Research into investigating whether either of these species have population level effects on Cromwell chafers is required We want to identify predator free areas to guide development of a translocation proposal for captive reared chafers into the Reserve.

Contact

Bruce McKinlay
Email: bmckinlay@doc.govt.nz


Determining the distribution of Red backed spiders outside of the Cromwell Chafer beetle reserve.

ID: 1014
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Cromwell Chafer beetle reserve

Question

What is the distribution of red backed spiders outside the Cromwell chafer beetle reserve

Description

A survey of the adjacent areas surrounding the Cromwell chafer beetle reserve for red-backed spiders. The aim is to see how far a potential local biosecurity zone for the reserve for red-backed spiders is required. It could also include research on the likely sources of red-backed spiders, and the pathways that they are using to get to Cromwell.

Contact

Bruce McKinlay
Email: bmckinlay@doc.govt.nz


Effectiveness of Safety Messages for non-English speaking visitors

ID: 1015
Work area: Recreation,Tourism,Historic
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Desktop

Question

How effective are the safety messages DOC delivers to non-english speaking visitors to public conservation lands and waters

Description

There is a rise in international tourists to New Zealand and the subsequent effect is an increased number of international tourists visiting public conservation lands and waters. We are keen to understand how appropriate and effective the current safety messages are along with recommendations for improvement. The particular focus would be on safety messaging for non-English visitors.

Contact

Emma Greig
Email: egreig@doc.govt.nz


The most effective way to present Safety Messages to achieve appropritate response?

ID: 1016
Work area: Recreation,Tourism,Historic
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Desktop

Question

What is the international best practise for successful safety messaging?

Description

Presentation, medium, colours and message - what are the key components that ensures successful uptake of the message and appropriate response? What are the learnings from international work in this area that could be applied within NZ to achieve success?

Contact

Tinaka Mearns
Email: tmearns@doc.govt.nz


Who pays and who doesn't? Understanding the drivers of recreational fee compliance in outdoor settings.

ID: 1017
Work area: Recreation,Tourism,Historic
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Desktop

Question

What are the beliefs and behaviours around the payment of recreation fees among users of the New Zealand outdoors? What factors affect compliance or non-compliance with recreational fee systems?

Description

NA

Contact

Michael Harbrow
Email: mharbrow@doc.govt.nz


Audience understanding for effective storytelling: key engagement motivations of visitors at historical and cultural icon (landmarks) sites in Northland

ID: 1018
Work area: Recreation,Tourism,Historic
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Desktop

Question

What motivations and interests do people have who engage with our current network of Historic Icon (landmark) sites? What is the primary purpose of visits? What heritage value / understanding do they leave the site with?

Description

There is a likely cost to accessing a culture segmentation model which DOC would have to meet. The Recreation, Tourism and Historic Group are exploring these costs and the ability to fund them.

Contact

Raewyn Hutchings
Email: rhutchings@doc.govt.nz


Mountain Biking

ID: 1019
Work area: Recreation,Tourism,Historic
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: National using local examples

Question

What percentage of mountain bikers participate in each grade of ride, and how many cross between grades?

Description

The study will look at preferences as well as participation rates in the different grades. Are preferences related to family lifecycle stage and if so, what types of rides, amenities and facilities are preferred at which stage? It will explore the market niche of the DOC mountain bike product (short rides, day rides and multi-day rides) in relation to demand and discuss the type of mountain bike product that DOC is best placed to focus on developing.

Contact

Jacqueline Dyer
Email: jdyer@doc.govt.nz


Managing visitor risk; where is the balance between self-management and hazard management?

ID: 1020
Work area: Recreation,Tourism,Historic
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Desktop

Question

How does the ability for visitors to accept and manage their own risk contribute to the enrichment of the visitor experience?

Description

Another way to frame this question is: Do more intrusive hazard management approaches diminish the sense of enrichment?

Contact

Tinaka Mearns
Email: tmearns@doc.govt.nz


Understanding the pre-planning stage of visitor experience.

ID: 1021
Work area: Recreation,Tourism,Historic
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Desktop

Question

How do visitors engage with visitor risk information in order to assess if a recreation opportunity matches their risk appetite?

Description

How do visitors engage with pre-visit information in order to assess if a recreation opportunity matches their skills and experience? What non-DOC sources do visitors access for pre-visit information?

Contact

Tinaka Mearns
Email: tmearns@doc.govt.nz


How do visitors self-assess their skill experience and fitness levels?

ID: 1022
Work area: Recreation,Tourism,Historic
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Desktop

Question

How well do visitors self-assess their skill, experience and fitness levels?

Description

A questionnaire that first asks them to (qualitatively) rank themselves in these three areas, then poses a series of quantitative questions to test the accuracy of their initial self-assessment.

Contact

Tinaka Mearns
Email: tmearns@doc.govt.nz


Identifing acceptable levels of visitor risk.

ID: 1023
Work area: Recreation,Tourism,Historic
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Desktop

Question

What day to day activities that NZers engage in could provide an easily understood benchmark for an acceptable level of visitor risk at DOC back country and front country recreation destinations?

Description

NA

Contact

Tinaka Mearns
Email: tmearns@doc.govt.nz


Coordinating riparian planting on Waikouaiti River

ID: 1024
Work area: Freshwater
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place:

Question

What are the current needs for restoration planting on the Waikouati River and its tributaries?

Description

There have been a number of efforts of planting on the Waikouaiti River and its tributaries. This internship project will investigate the historical planting that has occurred, examine the current needs of planting, highlight proposed strategies that have been used in other communities, and have discussions with key community groups and stakeholders about the needs for planting to ensure a healthy waterway. The intern will need to work with stakeholders to hear the specific issues and to co-design the specifics of the project.

Contact

External Participant
Email: training@doc.govt.nz


Understanding the full extent of the direct impact of commercial fishing on protected species.

ID: 1025
Work area: Marine
Status: Underway
University: Victoria University of Wellington
Place: Desk-based project. Would be best suited to a candidate in Wellington, or willing to spend time in Wellington, so that commercially sensitive fisheries data can be reviewed in DOC and/or MPI offices.

Question

What are the characteristics of protected species deck captures in New Zealand commercial fishing, and how can we estimate the total extent of these captures?

Description

Bycatch in fisheries is a major threat to a wide range of New Zealand marine protected species, including seabirds, marine mammals, protected fish, turtles and corals. DOC and MPI gather data on the bycatch of these protected species through a multi-million dollar observer programme, and data analysis and estimation of animals bycaught in fishing gear is well established. However, in addition to animals bycaught in fishing gear, 1,226 protected species (mainly seabirds) have been recorded as “deck captures” over the last 13 years. Deck captures are animals landed, injured or killed on a fishing vessel, but not in the fishing gear itself. These records are not included in current bycatch estimates, but are greater in number than protected species observed hooked in all longline fisheries over that period. Currently we have little understanding of these captures, their cause, their severity or what the extrapolated total extent may be. This project will characterise these captures and develop methodologies to estimate the total extent. The project will build on, and expand in scope, the work of DOC's Conservation Services Programme.

Contact

Igor Debski
Email: idebski@doc.govt.nz


Inventory and analysis of existing infrastructure and information management to inform the development of a national instream structures and fish passage barriers database

ID: 1026
Work area: Freshwater
Status: Underway
University: University of Waikato
Place: A combination of office based work and field work evaluating instream structures for fish passage. Preferred that the person be based in NIWA Hamilton; however Christchurch DOC Office could be a secondary location option.

Question

To what extent are fish distributions potentially constrained by fish passage barriers at instream structures across New Zealand?

Description

The objective of this studentship is to support a joint initiative by the Department of Conservation and NIWA to establish a national instream structures and fish passage database. A previous studentship (Callum Brown) resulted in the collation of instream structures information from 10 regional councils, with approximately 45% of assessed structures being classified as impeding fish passage. The aim of the new studentship is to continue the work started last year by collating further data from the remaining councils (including large datasets held by Auckland Council and Tasman District Council) and undertaking the work to unify the datasets into a single national database. Working with staff at DOC and NIWA, it will be the task of the student to inventory and analyse existing databases and data sets and contribute to establishment of a national fish passage database. There will also be the opportunity to begin analysing these data in order to quantify the potential impacts on connectivity, and to consider appropriate ways for characterising environmental state with respect to fish passage. This will help inform future management actions and contribute to understanding some of the challenges faced in meeting the DOC stretch goal of restoring 50 streams from mountain to sea. This would suit a student who has an interest in environmental data management and good GIS/database skills. An understanding of and interest in freshwater systems and fish passage would be beneficial. Some fieldwork will also be required, so a willingness to work outside and a full driver licence is required.

Contact

Dave West
Email: dwest@doc.govt.nz


Mahoenui Giant Weta survival rates and movement within and between gorse and native vegetation

ID: 1027
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Underway
University: Victoria University of Wellington
Place: Te Kuiti

Question

What is the survival rates of weta in gorse and native vegetation, and do they travel between the two types of vegetation?

Description

Mahoenui Giant Weta have been declining at one of their only remaining populations. Up until now gorse has been the main protection against predators, but is rapidly being replaced by native vegetation within the reserve. This may be creating a more hospitable environment for rats and possums, thereby causing the decline. Alternatively, weta may simply be harder to find in regeneration native forest, and therefore the decline is potentially due to a decrease in detection rate. Mahoenui Giant Weta Reserve is the only site where the species is confirmed as being present. We have translocated them to Maungatautari, but have been unable to confirm whether the translocation was successful. We think this is due to weta moving up in to the tall native forest where we cannot detect them. They are present in a small fenced 16ha area outside of Cambridge which has had multiple incursions which suggest the population may be at risk from rats, and possibly still remain on an offshore island (although unconfirmed). Therefore it is really important to be able to understand what is driving the decline in encounter rates at the reserve to ensure we have confidence that the species will persist.

Contact

Jessica Scrimgeour
Email: jscrimgeour@doc.govt.nz


Analysis of stoat video footage at rock wren nests

ID: 1028
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Underway
University: University of Waikato
Place: University or DOC offices

Question

What are behaviours of stoats at rock wren nests

Description

Video monitoring at rock wren nests has been undertaken over the past four years as part of a national nest survival study. This footage has been viewed to document predation events, but has not been analysed for specific behaviours of stoat interactions with nests. The objective here would be to create a list of behaviours witnessed and record the time line for behaviours centred around predation events. E.g. time of first visit to the nest and behaviours; time of day of predation events , approach path to nests with respect to habitat features; number of stoats involved; patterns of events, etc.

Contact

Colin O'Donnell
Email: codonnell@doc.govt.nz


Understanding current trends in the range of Whareorino Archey's Frog

ID: 1029
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Underway
University: University of Waikato
Place: Whareorino Forest, Maniapoto District

Question

What is the current range of Archey's frog in Whareorino, and how does that relate to past pest control?

Description

The Whareorino population of Archey's frog is the stronghold for the species. The range was established in 1993. Pest control was established over half of the frog's range in 2003, and a mark-recapture study indicates that frog survival is better in the pest control area than the non-treatment area. 2016 will be the first year that the whole of the known range receives pest control, which will be ongoing. However, we don't know what the current range is, and whether that has changed since 1993. Accomodation could be provided in the staff house at Te Kuiti, and from 2 huts in Whareorino.

Contact

Tertia Thurley
Email: tthurley@doc.govt.nz


Understanding movement patterns of Short tailed bats

ID: 1030
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Underway
University: University of Waikato
Place: Pureora

Question

How frequently, and how many bats, move between Pikiariki and Waipapa?

Description

Pest control at Pureora includes annual bait station operations at Pikiariki, which holds a population of short tailed bats, and nearby Waipapa, approximately 3 km away and separated by farmland. Ground-based pest control operations have previously impacted short tailed bats (diphacinone operation caused >100 bat deaths in Pikiariki in 2007). While toxin application methods have been improved so this doesn't happen again, toxins are still routinely detected in bat guano when they are in use in the field. Therefore, at Pikiariki timing of pest control is early in the season before bats are very active. What is not understood is how frequently, and what proportion of the bat population, move between Pikiariki and Waipapa to feed? The limit of our knowledge is that at least a few bats move between these areas, but the main roosting sites are in Pikiariki. To understand the effect of our bait station operations at Waipapa, we need to answer this question. Accommodation could be provided in staff house at Pureora. Question could be answered by placing bat recorders along the road between Pikiariki and Waipapa. This work would also answer the question of how the bats use the habitat to move between these forest blocks i.e. do they use the few scrubby gullies, or are bare cow paddocks no obstacle.

Contact

Tertia Thurley
Email: tthurley@doc.govt.nz


Create Memorable Icon Stories

ID: 1031
Work area: Recreation,Tourism,Historic
Status: Underway
University: Victoria University of Wellington
Place: Wellington, Christchurch

Question

What stories at Icon sites will most strongly engage audiences? This proposal is for the three new Icon sites are currently being developed

Description

For each of these three sites, DOC needs to find engaging stories that will bring the Icon values to life. The proposal is complementary to the one on " Audience understanding for effective story-telling". This one is about finding the stories, the other one is about how to best tell the stories.

Contact

Paul Mahoney
Email: pmahoney@doc.govt.nz


Discrimination of beech tree canopy species using remote sensing

ID: 1032
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Potentially a desktop exercise using satellite imagery. Considerable interaction with DOC staff within Christchurch Shared Service Centre.

Question

What is the detailed distribution of dominant beech species within the area managed for orange-fronted parakeets.

Description

Red beech, silver beech and mountain beech produce different sized seeds of variable nutritional quality and also appear to provide different densities of cavities suitable for parakeets to nest within. Accurately mapping the distribution of these species over landscape scales using remote sensing methodologies may help focus management activities into more productive parts of this highly endangered species range. This programme could also be extended to field sampling of spectral signatures (using a hand-held spectrometer) to improve classification algorithms.

Contact

Terry Greene
Email: tgreene@doc.govt.nz


Risk-taking through the eyes of the visitor: How visitors to PCL&W evaluate and manage risks associated with natural hazards

ID: 1033
Work area: Recreation,Tourism,Historic
Status: Underway
University: University of Auckland
Place: Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

Question

How do visitors to public conservation lands and waters evaluate and manage risks?

Description

The research question has arisen from a current piece of work being undertaken regarding quantitative risk analysis at DOC's High use/high risk (HUHR) sites (approx 6 nationally). DOC's ROS categories assume certain levels of risk tolerance amongst users – yet these assumptions have never been tested against a population of visitors to a high risk site, nor against the NZ population in general. Furthermore, very little is known about how visitors make sense of the different risk messages they seek/are exposed to, which messages are privileged and why, and to what extent these messages ultimately influence behaviours (choices) at place. Finally, little is known about the risk-management schema used by visitors to public conservation lands and waters to arrive at a final course of action (choice). Tongariro Alpine Crossing is of particular relevance given it has a range of varyingly unpredictable natural hazards that can be expected to lead to a multiple fatality event at some point in time. In addition, these natural hazard-based risks are compounded by a range of human factors associated with rapid growth in the numbers of visitors, and changing demographic and psychographic profiles thereof. This research is ultimately about decision-making with respect to multiple options – i.e. behavioural economics. It is of immediate relevance and value to the HUHR project, but also to all DOC destinations – as such, the research could be conducted at a second contrasting site by another student. This proposal may be complementary to other research being proposed by the Recreation, Tourism and Heritage Group, and a combined research project is likely possible.

Contact

Jeff Dalley
Email: jdalley@doc.govt.nz


Thermal microhabitats and stress within intertidal invertebrates of north-eastern New Zealand. Implications for Marine Reserves.

ID: 1034
Work area: Marine
Status: Underway
University: University of Auckland
Place:

Question

What are the upper thermal limits for key intertidal species within the Leigh area i.e. Limpets, barnacles, and gastropods? What thermal effects are operating on microhabitat scales?

Description

Recent work suggests that climate change effects will be greater in the intertidal environments of north-eastern New Zealand. In particular, intertidal invertebrates will experience higher levels of thermal stress and mortality as temperature surpasses upper thermal limits. Our oldest marine reserve (Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve (Goat Island)) is thus at the forefront of climate change impacts. This has important implications for our marine reserves that attract many visitors to their shoreline, and the potential to use the reserves to tell the story of the ecological effects of climate change. Determining what species will be ‘losers' and what species will be ‘winners' under future climate change is a key thrust for conservation physiology, yet much basic information is absent particularly around thermal stress effects and actual temperature profiles within the intertidal. Implications of this study will be a greater understanding of species fate in light of future climate change and what future community structure may look like in the intertidal. Such information can be used to inform future conservation management plans.

Contact

Kristina Hillock
Email: khillock@doc.govt.nz


Assessing mammalian pest abundance in different vegetation types on a mixed-use high country farm

ID: 1035
Work area: Threats
Status: Withdrawn
University: Lincoln University
Place: Puhi Peaks, Seaward Kaikoura Ranges.

Question

What are the mammalian pest abundance in different vegetation types on a mixed use high country farm?

Description

Puhi Peaks is a mixed-use high country farm located in the Seaward Kaikoura Ranges. There are a range of land uses on this property, including ecotourism, guided hunting, grazing, carbon sequestration and conservation covenant. The property has a diverse range of habitats and has high biodiversity values. One of the threats to biodiversity on this property are mammalian pests, but there has been little monitoring to document the extent and scale of this threat. Mammals will be surveyed using a range of methods including chew cards, tracking tunnels and motion-activated cameras. Applicants should have knowledge of how to conduct mammal surveys and experience in conducting field work in remote areas.

Contact

External Participant
Email: training@doc.govt.nz


Characterisation of As-rich tailings at the historic Alexander gold mine processing plant in the Reefton Goldfield.

ID: 1036
Work area: Recreation,Tourism,Historic
Status: Underway
University: University of Otago
Place:

Question

What is the characterisation of the As-rich tailings at the historic Alexander gold mine processing plant in the Reefton Goldfield?

Description

The project will be based on fieldwork on DOC land at the historic Alexander gold mine site in Westland, with laboratory work conducted at Otago University. The student will characterise the occurrence and distribution of arsenic-rich tailings at the old processing plant using a handheld X-ray fluorescence spectrometer, and then take samples for microscopic analysis on a scanning electron microscope. The aim is to provide DOC with details so that remediation for this 2nd-most As-toxic site in New Zealand can commence.

Contact

External Participant
Email: training@doc.govt.nz


The current status of threatened plant species on the Mahu Whenua covenant

ID: 1037
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Underway
University: University of Otago
Place: Mahu Whenua QEII covenant

Question

What is the current abundance of threatened and at risk plant species previously identified in Draft Management plans for properties now within the Mahu Whenua QEII covenant. What is the composition of plant communities where these threatened species?

Description

The Mahu Whenua QEII covenant between Arrowtown and Wanaka encompasses Motatapu, Mt Soho, Glencoe and Coronet Peak high country pastoral leases. The commitment of the owners to destocking and restoration planting has begun an unprecedented process of vegetation change. In early 2016 a team from the Botany Department, University of Otago in collaboration with the owners and QEII, began a resurvey of permanent transects in the area to document this vegetation change. For this summer student project we will relocate, GPS reference, photograph and measure the abundance of threatened and at risk plant species previously identified in Draft Management plans for properties now within the covenant. We will also survey the composition of plant communities where these threatened species occur to provide baseline data for future monitoring.

Contact

External Participant
Email: training@doc.govt.nz


Testing Diffusion of Innovation theory as a means of distributing biosecurity messages to communities adjacent to pest free island reserves.

ID: 1038
Work area: Threats
Status: Underway
University: Auckland University of Technology
Place: Great Mercury Island

Question

How can biosecurity messages be successfully distributed to communities adjacent to pest free island reserves?

Description

Effective biosecurity is crucial to biodiversity conservation, human wellbeing, and economic prosperity in New Zealand. However, the biosecurity threats we face are growing in scale and complexity, with new risk pathways emerging related to expanding tourism, trade, recreation, and climate change. A central concern of effective biosecurity is the accidental reintroduction of pest and predator species to pest-free conservation areas. For example, in October 2016 a dead rat was found in a trap on pest-free Great Mercury Island. The rat was likely to have been a stowaway off a boat. Improved vigilance of boat-users is thus required to ensure no more predators are accidently reintroduced to these important conservation islands. Diffusion of innovation theory has been used to understand how human conservation behaviour may change and spread through a population and could improve boat vigilance. In addition, through the strategic identification of early adopters, diffusion of innovation theory may be used to improve the cost- and time- effectiveness of biosecurity efforts. This study is a proof of concept that could be expanded into a much larger study to transform the way we undertake biosecurity in New Zealand. As such, this study has important insights that could enhance our efforts to achieve our ambitious goal of a predator-free New Zealand by 2050.

Contact

External Participant
Email: training@doc.govt.nz


Survival and distribution of Shore Plovers

ID: 1039
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Underway
University: University of Waikato
Place: Rangitoto and Motutapu Islands

Question

 

Description

To be provided

Contact

Hazel Speed
Email: hjspeed@doc.govt.nz


Rapid Evolution and Environmental Impacts of Invasive Mosquitofish

ID: 1040
Work area: Marine
Status: Underway
University: University of Auckland
Place: Auckland region

Question

Mosquitofish are a global invader that is now widespread on the North Island of New Zealand. We are conducting research addressing how rapid evolution of this fish influences the ecological role that it plays. Over the summer we will be running a large scale outdoor mesocosm experiment and conducting field surveys to address this question. We are looking for an enthusiastic student with good field, organisational and analytical skills to assist in the research.

Description

Mosquitofish are a global invader that is now widespread on the North Island of New Zealand. We are conducting research addressing how rapid evolution of this fish influences the ecological role that it plays. Over the summer we will be running a large scale outdoor mesocosm experiment and conducting field surveys to address this question. We are looking for an enthusiastic student with good field, organisational and analytical skills to assist in the research.

Contact

Dave West
Email: dwest@doc.govt.nz


Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) surveys of intertidal rocky shores in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.

ID: 1041
Work area: Marine
Status: Underway
University: Auckland University of Technology
Place: Subject to DOC permit requirements the surveys could include marine reserve sites such as the Long Bay and Cape Rodney to Okakari Point (Leigh) Marine Reserves.

Question

How useful are UAV's in surveying the morphology, habitats and where possible, species assemblages at selected marine sites in the Hauraki Gulf.

Description

Rocky shores are highly vulnerable to impacts from sedimentation associated with runoff from agriculture, subdivisions and other development and to colonisation by exotic pest species and at some location overharvesting. The geology, morphology, disturbance and exposure of sites also influence species composition and the vulnerability of these communities. UAVs can provide detailed surveys of areas of intertidal and potentially subtidal habitat and species assemblages. These could be used to complement and extend the usefulness of ground based transect and quadrat techniques. The project aims to determine the effectiveness of this approach with a view to more widespread applications. Fixed wing and/ or multirotor drones (UAV) will be used to survey morphology, habitats and where possible, species assemblages at selected sites in the Hauraki Gulf. High resolution orthomosaics and digital surface models will be used to map and quantify intertidal habitats and their condition in relation to pressures such as sedimentation and pest species. Low altitude flights will also attempt to map major biotic assemblages and species where possible. UAV assessments will be compared to previous intertidal mapping in the Gulf (Byers et al. DOC unpublished data, Breen 2012) existing species and sediment data (Sivaguru DOC report, O'Shea 2008 DOC report) supplemented where possible with new ground truth surveys. Sites will be selected to coincide with previous surveys.

Contact

External Participant
Email: training@doc.govt.nz


Long-life lures for rats and stoats

ID: 1042
Work area: Threats
Status: Underway
University: Lincoln University
Place: Lincoln University predator trial area

Question

Are stoats and rats attracted to bedding material of these species

Description

To come: Part of work by Zero Invasive Predators (based at LU) on long-life lures. Currently she is running a set of rat trials investigating the attractiveness of bedding material and we also have captive stoats which she can test with other material.

Contact

Elaine Murphy
Email: emurphy@doc.govt.nz


The effect of ongoing pest control on Hochstetter's Frog

ID: 1043
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Whareorino Forest, Maniapoto District

Question

What is the comparative density of hochstetter's frogs in an area that has received 16 years of pest control vs no pest control?

Description

Hochstetter's and Archey's frogs occur sympatrically in Whareorino. Pest control was established over half of the range of both species of frog in 2003. There is currently no knowledge of the effect of this pest control on hochstetter's frog (though we know that rats do eat hochstetter's frog). 2016 will be the first year that the whole of the known range receives pest control, which will be ongoing. Information on the effect of pest control on this species would be gained from understanding current densities of hochstetter's frog. It could be used as baseline for any repeat studies. Monitoring would be by site occupancy. Accommodation could be provided in staff house at Te Kuiti, and from 2 huts in Whareorino.

Contact

Tertia Thurley
Email: tthurley@doc.govt.nz


Fine scale analysis of bar-tailed godwit roosting patterns and habitat usage in Coastal Otago

ID: 1044
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Dunedin: Blueskin Bay/Warrington Spit; Aramoana; Hoopers Inlet; Papanui Inlet

Question

Why are high tide roosts in Otago used by godwits as the are?

Description

Godwits use four major areas around Dunedin for high tide roosting during the Austral summer. The historical pattern of usage and the reasons why this happens is not understood. Index counts of one sort or another have been competed for the last 32 years and so give a background of change over a long period. The project would be to examine the pattern of usage and develop hypotheses as to why high tides roosts are used in the way they are. Further work to explore the access to foraging areas and how the various roosts are located in relationship key foraging grounds (see for eg. Dias et al 2006: Distance to high-tide roosts constrains the use of foraging areas by dunlins: Implications for the management of estuarine wetlands) could be included in the project. The data source for this work is held by Otago Region OSNZ. A cooperative arrangement will be worked out to get access to the data.

Contact

Bruce McKinlay
Email: bmckinlay@doc.govt.nz


All eyes on New Zealand glaciers: new ways to quantify environmental change using ground validated satellite measurements

ID: 1045
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Underway
University: University of Canterbury
Place: Information to be provided

Question

Information to be provided

Description

Information to be provided

Contact

 


Networks of invasion in New Zealand's natural areas

ID: 1046
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Underway
University: University of Canterbury
Place: Information to be provided

Question

Information to be provided

Description

Information to be provided

Contact

 


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