Introduction

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

Highlights

Some of the following research projects have already been completed and others will be worked on in the future – but all are of high interest to the Department.

From time to time, the Department will offer co-funded summer scholarships, which will be awarded in collaboration with universities. The programme is aimed at third year students interested in conservation issues. Topics cover all areas of conservation interest including tourism, recreation, historic heritage, species, ecosystems, threats to natural heritage, and social sciences. 

For more information, contact ScienceSummerScholarships@doc.govt.nz

 

In this section

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 or another similar programme 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 or Christchurch, as access to DOC staff, internal data and reports will be needed.


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.


The foraging distribution of flesh-footed shearwaters.

ID: 1003
Work area: Marine
Status: Completed
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.


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, so would be ideally suited to a student in Dunedin/Otakou region. This would be an ideal project to support a Maori student. The successful applicant would work together with the new Rapoka Community Liaison Officer.

Question

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

Description

New Zealand sea lion/rapoka/whakahao, is a taonga species, treasured by tangata whenua. It is rare and endemic to New Zealand and currently classified as ‘Nationally Critical’ under the New Zealand Threat Classification System. This threat classification is due to small population size, projected population decline, restricted breeding range and a number of human related threats. While sea lions were once found around the entire New Zealand coast, currently most of the population is found in the Auckland and Campbell Islands. Since the 1990s, breeding has occurred in low numbers in the Otakou and Murihiku regions, and on Rakiura. This year (2017), a New Zealand sea lion/rapoka Threat Management Plan (NZSL TMP) will be implemented. The vision of the NZSL TMP is to ‘promote the recovery and ensure the long-term viability of New Zealand sea lions, with the ultimate goal of achieving ‘Not Threatened’ status’. The principles of matauranga Maori will be woven throughout each workstream to achieve this vision. The Department is proposing a project whereby a Maori student can integrate matauranga Maori throughout the NZSL TMP workstreams. For example, it has been highlighted, that 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. These histories may help raise awareness and engage communities in the protection of this taonga species. The successful applicant would work together with the new Rapoka Community Liaison Officer to develop an engagement campaign that facilitates a positive and accepted expansion of the range of sea lions.


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.


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 Departments threatened species persistence objective.


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 Departments threatened species persistence objective.


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.


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).


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.


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.


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.


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.


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? This project would suit students from tourism, recreation, marketing, social science backgrounds


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.


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.


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 different visitors markets find out and plan their holiday experiences in New Zealand?

Description

How do visitors engage with pre-visit information to choose anexperience? What information sources are used? What non-DOC sources do visitors access for pre-visit information? What's the difference found by comparing social media data from DOC and another information source? This will be used to inform and work alongside our visitor experience strategy and or customer segmentation model . This project would appeal to either tourism, recreation or marketing students.


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.


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.


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

ID: 1025
Work area: Marine
Status: Completed
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.


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: Completed
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.


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

ID: 1027
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Completed
University: Victoria University of Wellington
Place: Te Kuiti [Please note that a research poster has also been prepared by the scholar - available in DOCCM: DOC-2989053]

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.


Analysis of stoat video footage at rock wren nests

ID: 1028
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Completed
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.


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

ID: 1029
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Completed
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.


Understanding movement patterns of Short tailed bats

ID: 1030
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Completed
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.


Create Memorable Icon Stories

ID: 1031
Work area: Recreation,Tourism,Historic
Status: Completed
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.


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 orange-fronted 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 and the collection and ground-truthing of high resolution multispectral imagery.


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: Completed
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.


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

ID: 1034
Work area: Marine
Status: Completed
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.


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.


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: Completed
University: University of Otago
Place: Reefton; Alexander, Blacks Point and Crushington Historic gold mining sites

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.


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

ID: 1037
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Completed
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.


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.


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


Rapid Evolution and Environmental Impacts of Invasive Mosquitofish

ID: 1040
Work area: Marine
Status: Completed
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.


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.


Long-life lures for rats and stoats

ID: 1042
Work area: Threats
Status: Completed
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.


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.


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

ID: 1045
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Completed
University: University of Canterbury
Place: Southern Alps, South Island, NZ

Question

Researching the capacity of Landsat 8 and Sentinel 2 datasets to distinguish glaciers from the surrounding landscape.

Description

The purpose of this research is to assess the potential for automated analysis of glacier outlines in the Southern Alps, New Zealand. Because of the short duration of the scholarship, two primary aims were chosen. The first was to automatically outline the bare ice extent of the glaciers. The second was to automatically outline the debris covered extent.


Networks of invasion in New Zealand's natural areas

ID: 1046
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Completed
University: University of Canterbury
Place: Information to be provided [Please note that the student reported on her experience and learnings within this document - 3023494]

Question

Information to be provided

Description

Information to be provided


Effects of herbicides on fungi associated with wilding pines

ID: 1051
Work area: Threats
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Multiple, South Island

Question

Are there legacy effects of herbicides on mychorrizal fungi after control of wilding pines? How long do legacies persist?

Description

Around 15 species of exotic conifers are a major environmental weeds of montane to subalpine grasslands and shrublands. Exotic confers in the family Pinaceae are well known for requiring mychorrizal fungi to facilitate growth. Herbicide formulations containing the active ingredient Triclopyr are commonly used to control wilding conifers. There is anecdotal evidence that triclopyr residues in litter and soil may limit establishment of fungi. Knowledge of the role that herbicide formulations play in restricting colonisation by pines and fungi after spraying would support management decisions around retreatment times.


Increasing compliance behaviour

ID: 1060
Work area: Recreation,Tourism,Historic
Status: Withdrawn
University: not assigned
Place: TBC

Question

What are the barriers and benefits to tourism compliance and how can we increase compliance rate.

Description

to be determined


conservation spill over effects of back yard trapping programmes

ID: 1061
Work area: Threats
Status: Withdrawn
University: not assigned
Place: Wellington - TBC

Question

explore if participation in a back yard trapping programme leads to an increase in other conservation actions

Description

 


Activity assessment for high risk seabirds

ID: 1065
Work area: Marine
Status: Available
University: not assigned
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 activity data collected from tracking devices deployed on seabirds help us understand their susceptibility to threats?

Description

Black petrels and flesh-footed shearwaters are two of the species ranked as at highest risk from commercial fisheries in New Zealand. Substantial effort has be conducted to deploy tracking devices on these birds, predominantly to describe their at-sea distribution. These devices also collect data that allow an assessment of behaviour, such as foraging, flying or time at the breeding colony. Such data have remained an under utilised resource, and this project will look to apply the latest methods to assess the data collected. This will allow a better understanding of when, where and how these birds are subject to threats such as fisheries bycatch, which can be used to inform management measures to mitigate these threats. This project may also include assessment of currently unanalysed tracking data to complement the activity assessment.


Kea advocacy in South Westland

ID: 1068
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Franz Josef

Question

How do we implement a better connection between the community and kea conservation?

Description

Implementing a kea advocacy programme in South Westland - signage, education, kea aversion, working with the community to deter nuisance kea and prevent kea becoming dependent on people. Work with the local community, tourism industry and kea conservation trust to develop strategies to raise awareness on the plight of kea in the area.


Using RFID technology to track robust grasshopper movement in the wild

ID: 1069
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Mackenzie Basin, based in Twizel. University of Canterbury lab

Question

Are RFIDs suitable for tracking movement of robust grasshoppers to assess habitat use and vulnerability to predation

Description

A two year study at the University of Canterbury recently reported on successful protocols for the translocation of robust grasshopper, but noted that future translocations would benefit from an investigation into dispersal and movement patterns (habitat use) to help prevent initial dispersal away from release sites. They also collated data on monitoring methods leading to a set of recommendations for annual population monitoring and translocation monitoring, which noted the importance of understanding post-release dispersal as part of measuring translocation success. From November 2017 the group will be trialling HOLOHIL LB-2X transmitters as a monitoring tool to study movement patterns and nocturnal behaviour. This summer project will support transmitter work and test alternative RFID technologies to determine key elements of grasshopper behaviour. Information on dispersal and movement patterns will improve best practices translocation design (habitat selection and release protocols), and best practice monitoring design (where and how large monitoring areas need to be), while determining nocturnal refuges will improve predator control strategies for this national endangered species. The student will trial RFID attachment techniques in the lab and detection distances in natural braided river habitat using a mobile detection device. This technique have not previously been used on New Zealand grasshoppers. For the field trial RFIDs will be attached to a sample of at least 20 adult grasshoppers which will be followed for a period of 6 weeks to collect data on daily distance moved, habitat use and nocturnal resting places. The student will work alongside and be supported by the Canterbury University robust grasshopper research team.


The Queen Charlotte Track; it's social, environmental and economic impacts

ID: 1070
Work area: Recreation,Tourism,Historic
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Queen Charlotte Track, Queen Charlotte Sound. The research would be based out of the Waitohi/Picton Office.

Question

What are the key social, environmental and economic impacts of the Queen Charlotte Track?

Description

The Queen Charlotte Track is part of Te Araroa Trail and Nga Haerenga NZ Cycle Trail as well as being a very popular walking and cycling track in its own right. The public and private stakeholders in the track (DOC, the Marlborough District Council, the Queen Charlotte Landowners Cooperative and Queen Charlotte Track Incorporated) need valid and up to date research and data to inform them in taking the next steps in managing this track into the future. What upgrades should be done and where? What infrastructure needs to be considered for future users? Why do people come to the track? Does the reality live up to expectations? How can we take the track from good to great? All whilst balancing the varied needs of the stakeholders and ensuring sustainable development.


Using social science to address issues re: dog owners and behaviour change

ID: 1074
Work area: Threats
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Te Atatu Peninsula's Harbourview Walkway (adjacent to Motu Manawa-Pollen Island Marine Reserve) http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/EN/parksfacilities/walkingtracks/Pages/westwalkways.aspx

Question

How to use 'community-based social marketing' to address the issue of dog owners not putting their dog on a lead when walking in a coastal recreation area adjacent to a key urban Auckland marine reserve where shore and seabirds feed, roost and nest.

Description

• DOC’s strategic direction involves working with others to inspire and deliver world leading conservation. In Auckland our key partner is Auckland Council – we have a Memorandum of Understanding which supports collaboration to protect and enhance biodiversity. • This project could also help connect more Aucklander’s to nature through a better understanding of the threat dogs pose to wildlife and the importance of the marine reserve. The work also supports our marine reserve work and to some extent pest/threat management goals. Context: • Motu Manawa-Pollen Island Marine Reserve is DOC’s most urban marine reserve, situated in the heart of Auckland City and surrounded by urban residences and industry. The key way Aucklander’s interact with the marine reserve is by using the coastal walkways and beaches on adjacent Te Atatu Peninsula and Point Chevalier. These are Auckland Council reserves and the corresponding Local Boards have been active in improving bylaws to ensure these areas are ‘dogs on leads’. However anecdotally (via local Forest and Bird advocates for the area) we understand off lead dogs are an issue. The area is a key site for shore and sea birds that use these same areas (along with the marine reserve) for feeding, roosting and nesting. This issue is obviously not confined to this area alone, so any learnings would be of great value to both DOC and Council regarding dog issues elsewhere (regionally and nationally). • Gael Ogilvie, General Manager Environmental Services, Auckland Council recently hosted Doug McKenzie-Mohr who trained a number of DOC and Council staff and other stakeholders over 2 days in ‘community based social marketing’ (CBSM). Gael is supportive of CBSM being used by DOC and Auckland Council to address environment/conservation issues. Gael is supporting a ‘community of practice’ in this area, for Auckland. At this stage it appears this has not been activated. It is likely that capacity issues are a factor for both organisations. This is an opportunity for a pilot collaborative project, utilising the help of student resources, that could help kick-start more of this work in the region. Suggested work plan, to be further developed with the support of social scientists from DOC and/or Auckland Council: 1. Interviews with DOC, Auckland Council, the local board/s and Forest and Bird to gather information and perspectives on the issue. 2. A literature review of approaches used to address the issue, internationally utilising the resources on http://www.cbsm.com and the forums. 3. Observational work at site to ascertain the reality of the problem – both ‘invisibly’ and ‘visibly’ (possible intercept interviews). 4. Use CBSM methods and resources (and support from social scientists) to work through identification of barriers and benefits, develop strategies and select one or two to pilot. 5. Report to be submitted on the work. Other points: • DOC and Council hope that having an ‘independent’ student carrying out this work will be more effective/less confrontational than a DOC or Council staff member. • Resources to support any strategies will be made available by Council (Parks or Local Board budget) eg. if the site-based photo board of locals happy to promote keeping their dog on a lead, is piloted. • This work will help DOC and Council foster relationships with the education institutions interested in social science, and potentially provide long term summer scholarships to do more of this work. • The work is flexible depending on the capacity of the student. There are two – three key sites but choosing just one site would be fine. There is also an issue with kite surfers based at a discrete (overlapping) site that could be explored if the student had capacity or if there were two students. • The student would need to be fairly independent and confident ie. happy to approach the general public. DOC and Council would ensure that they were set up well but staff are less available over the Christmas/New Year period. It would be important to ‘hit the ground running’ at the start of the scholarship period.


New Zealand fur seals in Northland: Updating their northward recovery to identify management issues and opportunities

ID: 1075
Work area: Marine
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Northland coastlines (survey and fieldwork sites to be decided)

Question

Where are the fur seals in Northland and do they breed? How do they interact with people and what may become opportunities or issues?

Description

The New Zealand fur seal (Arctocephalus forsteri) is a taonga species that was once widespread throughout New Zealand, including Northland. The species is of significant ecological, cultural, and economic value and is a key stone species in coastal marine environments. Following their declines and disappearance from most of mainland New Zealand by the 19th century, they have now re-established in most regions with a northward recovery. Many fur seal colonies have established along rocky coastlines around the South Island and North Island. The last region for the New Zealand fur seals to come back to is Northland. There are existing haul-outs and a few reported sightings of pups that could indicate that breeding colonies are establishing there too. However, there have not been any studies or a methodological approach to determine where fur seals are found to date and where breeding colonies may establish. The return of fur seals along populated coastlines has brought a range of issues and opportunities for local communities and conservation and natural resource managers such as DOC. The interactions between fur seals and recreational fishermen and other coastal users may create conflicting situations. Combined with a potential misconception about fur seals’ ecology, this may lead to the return of the fur seals seen by the public as a danger and nuisance rather than the conservation success story that it is. Therefore, it is important to understand how people may interact with fur seals in Northland and what opportunities and issues may arise so DOC and local councils can plan mitigations and guidelines, and educate people at key sites. On the other side, the coming back of fur seals in other regions has provided significant tourism opportunities, including for iwis. These opportunities included eco-tourism experiences with colony viewing and swimming with seals. It is likely that similar opportunities will be available in Northland, particularly as the weather and water temperature in summer are more attractive to tourists. Identifying opportunities like these should help improving the successful re-establishment of fur seals in the Northland culture. The proposed methodology is a combination of interviews or surveys (in person or online) with members of the public to gather local knowledge about fur seals during summer months (during fur seals’ breeding period) at key sites (eg. boat ramps, fishing clubs, yacht clubs, coastal communities) and some boat surveys on selected areas of the coast. The results should provide an initial overview of where colonies may have already started to establish or may establish in the future. The local knowledge part of the study can also be a stand-alone project if boat availability is difficult. The local Interviews and surveys will incorporate an element of social study to determine the level of understanding about fur seal ecology in the local communities and how they perceive their return along the coast. A question can also specifically ask if they already had positive or negative interactions with fur seals. The results will provide DOC some foundation knowledge on which to build an understanding if and what kind of management or education programme may be needed. This will ensure that the return of the fur seals in Northland becomes a conservation success by facilitating a positive and accepted expansion of the fur seals in this region. This project is supported by the National Office Marine Species and Threats Science advisor Laura Boren who can provide material and assist with designing the survey by providing examples used for other species, and has an interested experienced university researcher (Dr Laureline Meynier from Massey University in Auckland) who was contacted and is keen to supervise this project. The project will suit a 3rd year internship or, more ideally, a postgraduate (4th year) diploma summer placement with the potential to develop a Masters thesis on the topic from this initial project.


Maui dolphin offshore limits – CPOD and Soundtrap analysis

ID: 1079
Work area: Marine
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Auckland, West Coast North Island

Question

How far offshore can Maui dolphins be found using acoustic devices?

Description

Maui dolphins, a subspecies of Hector’s dolphins, are listed as nationally critical in New Zealand with a population estimate of 63 dolphins over one year old. They are endemic to New Zealand and only found on the west coast of the North Island. Risk assessments found net fishing methods to be the greatest threat to these dolphins and spatial protection for Mâui dolphins has progressively increased since 2003 with the latest review of protection measures being implemented in 2013. A review of protection measures is scheduled to be undertaken in 2018, and new information to inform the level of risk the dolphins are exposed to will be integral to this review. New information on Hector’s dolphins suggest that they can be found further offshore than previously believed, out to 20 nm. Current protection measures for Maui dolphins use a range of offshore limits (e.g. 2, 4, 7, and 12 nm) depending on the activity being controlled. It is uncertain, however, how much risk to Mâui dolphins remains outside these areas, as the distribution of these dolphins is not well-known. The biggest questions that remain are: 1. How far offshore do Maui dolphins range? 2. Do Maui dolphins use harbours? 3. What is their southern extent? Of these three questions, the greatest potential gains in Maui dolphin protection are associated with understanding their offshore distribution, as trawl, mining and set net fishing are only excluded to 2, 4, and 7 nm respectively. To help answer this question DOC, MPI, NIWA and UoA are deploying a line of acoustic devices offshore in the core of the Maui dolphin habitat. In addition, DOC has also deployed some acoustic devices in the southern part of Maui dolphin habitat to start to answer question three. Data from the acoustic devices will need to be analysed to support the intended review of the Threat Management Plan scheduled for 2018. This project would enable the preliminary data to be analysed from the southern deployment and potentially the first quarter of the offshore deployment.


Sedimentation on deep rocky reef in the Hauraki Gulf

ID: 1083
Work area: Marine
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place:

Question

Is sedimentation impacting fauna of rocky reefs in the Hauraki Gulf?

Description

Dropcam video have been deployed in 2008 at several stations in the Hauraki Gulf. A rapid review of these video showed that a number of deep reef systems have been impacted by heavy sedimentation. The student will further review these video and produce an assessment of (1) the level of sedimentation and (2) the general health of the biotope. Finally, a comparison between the sedimentation model by NIWA and observed sedimentation levels from the video will be produced.


Historical marine monitoring data

ID: 1093
Work area: Marine
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place:

Question

How much of the monitoring data in NZ marine reserve is readily available for analysis?

Description

Having monitoring data from NZ marine reserves readily available into a structured format is essential to conduct meaningful analysis on the performance of increased protection on species and habitats. Recently, DOC has been actively working on compiling their historical monitoring data into a centralised database. Although a large fraction of these data have been recovered, smaller datasets still need to be reviewed and incorporated into the master database. This project will focus on (1) identifying these missing datasets and (2) curating these data to make them ready for archival into the master database.


Computer-assisted photographic identification of Individual Archey's frogs (Leiopelma archeyi) from natural markings

ID: 1094
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Whareorino Forest and/or Pureora forest - Field work. Staff accommodation is available via the Maniapoto District Office. Photographic identification assessment and testing - computer- based. Can be done any where but the student would need to be able to visit Te Kuiti and/or Taupo to work with DOC staff or be based there. We would look at the provision of a desk and computer at DOC as part of the project (this is to be confirmed).

Question

How accurate and efficient is photographic identification of Archey's frog using manual categorisation and identification from photographs compared to computer assisted photographic identification using the freeware Is3?

Description

Archey's frog (Leiopelma archeyi) populations are monitored using capture-recapture methods that require photograph identification of individual frogs from their natural markings (ref: http://www.doc.govt.nz/documents/science-and-technical/dsis191.pdf). This photographic identification technique was developed due to concerns about the use of toe clipping as a marking technique. Photographic identification of Archey's frogs follows a manual system of first categorising photographs into pre-determined groups/sub-groups. Individual frogs are then identified by manually comparing photographs from new frog captures against a reference photograph library of previously captured frogs. Manual photographic identification has a high labour cost (approximately 300+ person hours per year for 5 monitoring grids). Assessing the accuracy of the manual technique will be necessary for comparision and to assess the quality of data for analysis and population modelling. Therefore, would like to test whether computer-assisted photographic identification can reduce labour costs with equal or better accuracy than the applied manual technique. Furthermore, while Archey's frogs typically occupy small home ranges (several square metres) and monitoring grids were set up with generous spacing, little is known about juvenile dispersal and to date photographic identification datasets have not been examined for potential movement of frogs between monitoring grids. I3S Pattern is a freeware tool for species with hard to annotate markings. This tool can be used for species with lots of small spots or markings that make it difficult to choose about 30 reference spots consistently for identification (http://www.reijns.com/i3s/about/I3S_Pattern.html). This freeware tool has not been tested for photographic identification of any frog species in NZ. The project would include: (1) Attending field monitoring of Archey's frog (1-4 weeks of field work depending on availability of the student). (2) Testing the accuracy of the applied manual photographic identification technique on the photograph data set for at least one monitoring grid (3) Test the efficacy of 'Is3 Pattern' for computer-assist photographic identification technique on the photograph data set for at least one monitoring grid (4) Provide recommendations on the most efficient and accurate technique to use for photographic identification of Archey's frog and/or any further testing needed. Optional add-on: (5) compare photographic identification data sets between grids to test for movement of frogs between monitoring sites. Note: A large proportion of this project would be computer based. The fieldwork is not essential but at least one week is advised to ensure the student has participated in field monitoring and collection of photographs used for individual frog identification. The size of the project can be tailored to some extent by the number of monitoring grids tested. Access to a computer and back up system that can hold large photographic data sets.


Modelling historic fire occurrence as a means of linking to predictive fire modelling re change in climate and vegetation type

ID: 1095
Work area: Threats
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Possibly anywhere, though could be hosted in Rotorua

Question

What effect will climate change have on the occurrence of wildfires? How has the cost of wildfire management changed over time? What is the projection of wildfire area burned into the future? To what level does DOC need to plan fire response and capacity?

Description

Links to existing project (Historical fire database). Statistical data, mathematical (fuzzy AHP), economic, and GIS analysis focus. This would require completion of the Historic Fire dataset, and may mean additional task support for the GIS team. Potential publication/s in an external and/or internal DOC journal.


Potential for mega fire (and extreme fire behaviour) occurrence in New Zealand and impact on PCL

ID: 1101
Work area: Threats
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Possibly anywhere, though could be hosted in Rotorua

Question

In what conditions and locations may mega-fires and extreme fire behaviour (fires that effectively cannot be fought using existing resources and methods) occur? Where and when shall DOC put its staff in response to such fires? What is the probability that such fires and conditions occur?

Description

Statistical data, and GIS analysis focus. Development of guidelines for fire-fighter protection. Potential publication in an external and/or internal DOC journal.


Wildfire analysis using satellite datasets, and paper (file and non-remote sensing data) records

ID: 1107
Work area: Threats
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Possibly anywhere, though could be hosted in Rotorua

Question

What is the actual extent of vegetation burnt in New Zealand? What is the space-time clustering of wildfires? Modelling spatial patterns of wildfire occurrence on PCL use of hotspots database from MODIS, Fire scar analysis using satellite datasets – especially in relation to PCL

Description

Potential interagency involvement. Statistical data, paper (file and non-remote sensing data) records, historical and GIS analysis. Fire occurrence an extent mapping – risk zones, wildland-urban interface, relationship to infrastructure - DOC PCL , campsites etc; Multiple spatial analysis procedures: fire location density, fire density relationship to roads, population density; building density, wildland-urban interfaces, fire cluster (hot-spot, optimized) analysis. Potential publication/s in an external and/or internal DOC journal.


Science for translocation planning of Yellow-crowned parakeet

ID: 1108
Work area: Terrestrial
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Long Island, Mana Island, Motuara Island

Question

Determining population size and feeding species for translocated Yellow-crowned parakeets (Cyanoramphus auriceps)

Description

Using DISTANCE sampling, the population size of translocated Yellow-crowned parakeets will be determined at three sites. Also, the key feeding species per site will be determined using two methodologies: 'first-food eaten' and 'feeding bouts'. Results from this study will help open a discussion about the future of these islands as potential sources of YCP for translocation to mainland and/or island sanctuaries.


Behaviour of dog owners on beaches - protecting penguins and other wildlife

ID: 1110
Work area: Threats
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: West Coast South Island

Question

How to communicate with dog owners about how they use beaches where there are wildlife like penguins around

Description

The West Coast Penguin Trust is keen to work better with dog owners so their use of beaches is done more responsibly. They wish to use a survey approach to identify how it is most effective to educate and inform dog owners about wildlife values of beaches and how they can enjoy the beach with their dog in a responsible way. They already have a survey, which Edy MacDonald, DOC social science manager, helped them to develop. Its saved in docCM 3078720. This links with the work by Kiwis for Kiwis organisation who have someone contracted to investigate and identify the best ways to communicate with dog owners in respect of them using areas with kiwis in a responsible way. The beach specific work links to and enhances the kiwi work, and specific work is needed due to dog owners different views of beaches versus vegetated areas. Most suitable for a student studying something environmental and/or communication orientated. Would have a West Coast South Island focus, due to interest of West Coast Penguin Trust, but is entirely relevant to whole of New Zealand. Support and enthusiasm will be provided by West Coast Penguin Trust staff and volunteers, and from WSI District staff.


Inventory and analysis of existing infrastructure and information management to inform the development of a national instream structures and fish passage barriers database (Stage 3)

ID: 1112
Work area: Freshwater
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: A combination of office based work and field work evaluating instream structures for fish passage. Preferred that the person be based in DOC Christchurch, however Hamilton 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/Waikato Uni) resulted in the collation of instream structures information from several regional councils, and the reassessment a number of culverts around the Waikato region to see how passage has changed and to test a proposed new rapid assessment protocol for culverts. The aim of the new studentship is to continue the work started by collating instream structure data from DOC and the remaining councils (including large datasets held by Auckland Council) to unify the datasets into a single national database, and to gather further field data on the state of other instream structures (e.g. tide gates, DOC structures) to support the development of the national assessment protocol. Working with staff at DOC, NIWA, Regional and District Councils, the student will collate data sets and undertake inventory and analysis that will assist the establishment of a national fish passage database and assessment protocol. This will help inform future management actions, improve national consistency 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.


Urban communities' connection to freshwater stream life; to identify people's understanding of fresh water stream life and connection to their own actions; apply learning to improve DOC's community engagement outcome 4.2

ID: 1117
Work area: Freshwater
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Christchurch

Question

To what extent do urban communities have a connection to freshwater stream life (the project focus is on two taonga species inanga/whitebait and long-fin eel), and their potential contribution to help improve the freshwater ecology?

Description

This social science project is a precursor to a much larger collaborative programme in Christchurch, CCC's Community Water Partnership** scheduled to begin in mid 2018. Partners in the larger programme include ECan, Ngai Tahu and Christchurch community groups. A DOC summer scholar project is an opportunity for DOC to: develop its own learning about community connection to nature (taonga freshwater fish in this instance), potential improvement to engagement measure 4.2; and to collaborate in the 2018 Christchurch Community Water Partnership drawing on the learning from the summer scholar's project. Christchurch's freshwater network is the most extensive of its kind in New Zealand. Many people identify with the iconic Avon Otakaro, the Opawaho Heathcote Rivers and the Avon Ihutai estuary they flow into. Christchurch has a long history of association with the rivers and drains; many communities today have developed an interest and fondness for the rivers. A manageable student project will target 3 distinctive communities. These are: 16 schools that participated in Waaka Inaka/whitebait project funded by DOC; 12 community groups that have pledged participation in the Opawaho Heathcote River network; and businesses that support these communities e.g. Cassells at the Tannery, Woolston. Methods will be developed with advice from DOC's social scientists.


NZ sealion decoy trial

ID: 1118
Work area: Marine
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Catlins

Question

Can decoys be used as a management tool for sealions

Description

Testing whether or not we can manipulate sealion behaviour eg away from high public use areas or attract sealions to safer pupping areas etc.


Hectors dolphin and human interactions

ID: 1119
Work area: Marine
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Porpoise Bay - Catlins

Question

Are tourist interactions increasing in the Hectors dolphin nursery area at Porpoise Bay

Description

Based on repeating previous research by Lars Beijder and Erin Green. I would love to repeat this work but also include the time budget work which focus on regular observations (hourly) and plot of where swimmers and dolphins are using the theodolite. I am particularly interested in whether the increased tourism has increased impact on the dolphins. Erin and Lars Beijder prior to that undertook time budget analysis for the individual dolphins too ie how much time was spent resting, playing, nursing etc. There is an identified nursery area in Porpoise Bay – right under the cliffs where the theodolite work would occur and calves are regularly visible. As this is the most sheltered area in Porpoise Bay and also the most accessible and calmest area for non surfers to enter the water there is a real risk to these dolphins through human interactions. This work was last completed in 2003 and we have had significant increase in tourism since. We undertook a further abundance estimate in 2008 using photo ID and there was no trend in population size between 1997- 2008 but we do need to repeat this at some stage. This work is desperately needed with the ongoing intensification of tourism in the Catlins so that we can consider a range of further management options to protect this vulnerable population (approx. 44 animals). Hectors dolphin at Curio Bay are considered genetically different to other adjacent populations.


Yellow eyed penguins and visitor interactions at Curio bay

ID: 1121
Work area: Marine
Status: Available
University: not assigned
Place: Curio Bay - Catlins

Question

How are visitors interacting with yellow eyed penguin/hoiho at Curio Bay and Porpoise Bay in the Catlins

Description

The penguin project is again a response to the increasing numbers of tourists to Curio Bay and also the new development of a heritage centre. We get a few complaints each year regarding visitor behaviour around the penguins on the platform – over 100,000 visitors/year. This work will allow us to quantify and understand what sort of interactions are occurring and the scale which will then allow us to investigate options on what the management options may be – it may be a change in how we do out interpretation etc. I haven’t got a fixed methodology but would imagine that people/penguin behaviours would be grouped and it be an observational study. A local community Trust and Council are also heavily committed to this area. We have between 4-6 nests year in the immediate area of Curio bay with the possibility of others establishing at the base of the headland at Porpoise Bay. This is a particularly topical project that has the potential to make a significant difference to these birds. There would be opportunities to assist with pest control and potentially restoration planting too. This work could be added to perhaps if you have some ideas.


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