RSNZ Teaching Fellow
Monday 20th December, 2010Jim Young's year as an Awarded Teacher Fellow from the Royal Society of New Zealand is drawing to an end, and 2011 will see him returning to the classroom of the Catlins Area School which gave him a year's leave to participate in this programme.
Jim was hosted by the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust to undertake a project at the new reserve in the Catlin's area titled 'Whakaora Irahuka: restoring the white cliffs'. His objectives were to map seabird, vegetation and lizard distribution and determine the most effective trapping regimes to protect the local seabird species.
Here is a summary from Jim about his year:
Initially most of my time involved learning and putting in place the monitoring methods for predators and lizards (and invertebrates). I established a 60 point 15km predator trap line using a variety of trap types acquired from various sources. This also included tracking tunnels for predator footprint monitoring. These were checked every two weeks, and checks will continue until the end of January. After that was in place, 200 pitfall traps and artificial cover traps (both live catch) were put in place at 11 sites across the study area to monitor presence of lizards and invertebrates. Checks were made in autumn and spring, and will conclude in early summer, to collect sufficient data to get a good picture of what variety and numbers of animals are present.
Studies of vegetation at the study site were more limited and involved taking photos from marked points of the vegetation in the study area and setting up exclosure plots to conduct a long term experiment on the effects of grazing on coastal turfs.
Seabirds passing the study site were regularly noted, and nest searches and monitoring of activity were done to establish what was present. This was related to historical data. Field trips to Somes Is. and Kaikoura were undertaken to gather information on translocation and audio attraction of seabirds and two conferences were attended, each giving valuable information and context to my project.
And what will Jim be taking back to his colleagues and students? He says, "An increased knowledge of local ecology and methodology and how to involve students."
And how was it overall for you? "A good break from teaching, having a good look at another institution's work practices and politics….".
And a comment from the Trust? The Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust sincerely thanks the RSNZ for this opportunity to engage with this programme to advance their knowledge and give some baseline data for this area. The commitment of one person to undertake these tasks was a privilege the Trust would not have normally been able to resource.