Opportunities for modern genetic technologies to maintain and enhance Aotearoa New Zealand’s bioheritage

In the past few years genetic technologies springing from advances in DNA sequencing (so-called high-throughput sequencing), and/or from CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing, have been proposed as being useful in bioheritage research. The potential scope for the use of these genetic technologies in bioheritage is vast, including enabling the recovery of threatened species, engineering proxies of extinct species and genetically controlling pests.

Biodiversity monitoring, ecological integrity, and the design of the New Zealand Biodiversity Assessment Framework

The New Zealand Department of Conservation is responsible for biodiversity management over approximately one-third of New Zealand’s land area and a network of marine protected areas; it also has a more general role in managing protected species and biodiversity advocacy. In 2004 the Department of Conservation began the development of a national natural heritage monitoring framework known as the New Zealand Biodiversity Assessment Framework, which has been operational since 2011.

Achieving win-win outcomes for pastoral farming and biodiversity conservation in New Zealand

Pastoral farming is the dominant land use in New Zealand today and is under considerable domestic social and political pressure to reduce its environmental footprint. In this article, we explore options to enhance native biodiversity conservation within New Zealand pastoral systems. We argue that there is strong synergistic interdependence between biodiversity conservation and pastoral farming and suggest that it is possible to have win-win outcomes for both.

South Island high country: let’s get it right this time

New Zealand has a unique opportunity to reshape the future of 1.2 million hectares, or 5% of the country. Since 1990, land clearance and development in the South Island high country have removed large areas of native vegetation, destroying already tenuous endemic species populations, and rare and threatened ecosystems. Important ecosystems and ecological values have been subtly or dramatically degraded through tenure review, discretionary consents, and invasions of plant and animal pests.

Movement behaviour of a translocated female ship rat and her offspring in a low rat density New Zealand forest

Dispersal is a fundamentally important aspect of animal behaviour, but empirical data describing it are lacking for many species. Here, we report on a field study aimed at measuring post-weaning movement distances of juvenile ship rats (Rattus rattus) and their mother away from a known natal nest site in an area with low conspecific population density. The movement behaviour of invasive species at low density is of particular interest, as it can inform design of surveillance arrays to detect incursion into predator-free areas.

More than a ‘nice to have’: integrating indigenous biodiversity into agroecosystems in New Zealand

Globally, biodiversity is declining due to increasing populations and land use pressures associated with development-induced land conversion, resource use, and food production. In New Zealand, a considerable proportion of remaining indigenous biodiversity occurs on farmland in private ownership outside of the public conservation land.

Loss of wetlands since 1990 in Southland, New Zealand

Reports of wetland loss in New Zealand are typically related to the historical, pre-European coverage of wetland ecosystems. It is widely accepted that large areas of wetlands were converted to other land uses prior to the 1990s before comprehensive national and regional environmental legislation was established. We sought to investigate recent (post 1990) changes in wetland extent to determine if current rates of wetland loss remain a concern for natural resources management.

Population viability analyses in New Zealand: a review

Biodiversity assets often require conservation management, which, in turn, necessitates decisions about which ecosystem, community or species should be prioritised to receive resources. Population viability analysis (PVA) uses a suite of quantitative methods to estimate the likelihood of population decline and extinction for a given species, and can be used to assess a population's status, providing useful information to decision-makers. In New Zealand, a range of taxa have been analysed using the PVA approach, but the scope of its implementation has not previously been reviewed.

When genetic and phenotypic data do not agree: the conservation implications of ignoring inconvenient taxonomic evidence

Taxonomy plays a central role in conservation programs of threatened New Zealand taxa. The role of taxonomy is especially relevant for highly vulnerable taxa, where the identification of distinct lineages is essential to define units of conservation and to appropriately allocate conservation resources. Taxonomy traditionally relied on phenotype, but in the past 30 years, the use of genetic data has become prominent in the field. While both phenotypic and genetic approaches to taxonomy have their own merit, they do not always agree.

Investigating the influence of social dominance on survival during a pukeko cull

Lethal control of wildlife is commonly used by conservation practitioners for population control. In some areas of New Zealand, changes in land-use and management have led to large increases in pukeko (Porphyrio melanotus melanotus) range and numbers. This native rail is sometimes considered a pest species, as they are known to uproot vegetation including tree seedlings, grass and crops. Here, we provide the first data on mortality during a lethal control operation that aimed to reduce pukeko population size at Tawharanui Regional Park in the North Island of New Zealand.