Humans help aliens invade!

Alien species are also known as invasive species. They can be any kind of organism that is not native to an ecosystem, which causes harm to the environment, the economy, human health or conservation and biodiversity. When an alien species is introduced to an ecosystem it may not have any natural predators…

Overseer: modelling nitrogen losses from farmland

Estimating the loss of nutrients from various land uses, and in particular intensive farming land uses, is very topical. The recently amended National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management now requires regional councils to set water quality limits for water bodies based on the value the local community feel the water…

Don’t tell me what to do in my own backyard! Involving communities in conservation decisions

Everyone has seen adverts or read about how tropical forests are being cut down for human uses, such as furniture, fire wood or just to clear land for farming, which is significantly decreasing wildlife populations globally. One method to combat this decline is for governments to create nature reserves and restrict…

Misty Mountains grazed: the reality of Lord-of-the-Rings scenery

Before I came to New Zealand from the US, I had thought that the footage from the Lord of the Rings of rolling green hills and idyllic countryside represented how lush and natural New Zealand was. I discovered when I came here that those rolling green hills are mostly invasive,…

Know thy self, know thy enemy: white clover chemical warfare versus grass grub herbivory

In the fifth book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series,  Douglas Adams described the universe as being “a lot more complicated than you might think, even if you start from a position of thinking it’s pretty damn complicated in the first place“. Ecological interactions between species was probably the furtherest thing from…

There is only one species of katipo in New Zealand

About the katipo The katipo spider (Latrodectus katipo) is a small spider, their abdomens are about the size of one of your fingernails. They are black and often have a pretty red stripe down their back,   hence their Australian cousins are called “Red Backs”. In the North Island there is…

Twinkle twinkle kiwi stars

New Zealand is known globally for its “Clean Green”, “100% pure” image which attracts thousands of tourists to our shores every year. So often when the word “conservation” is mentioned in conversation we think of our beautiful waterways, mountains, and endangered species. However we rarely perceive our night sky as a part of…

Ecological benefits of urban green areas

Rhondda.p Urban green areas have developed over several centuries to become an essential component of modern town and city planning. These green areas provide many social and ecological services such as helping to improve climate, hygiene, aesthetics, recreational opportunities, environmental protection and biodiversity. Urban green areas also help to create…

Does riparian restoration improve water quality?

Water is a huge part of the New Zealand lifestyle. We drink it freely straight from the tap, we eagerly swim and boat in the rivers and lakes, and we benefit as a country from our tourism industry which capitalises on environmental sustainability. We seem to take for granted how…

The majestic Southern Alps counteract climate change

Two major factors affecting the environment word-wide are the production of greenhouse gases (GHG), and soil loss due to erosion. Understanding how soil production and erosion processes occur on hillslopes is important not only for understanding soil transport but, less known to the average person, important for understanding global carbon…