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Palmerston North, New Zealand

Landcare Research is one of New Zealand's Crown Research Institutes. The focus of the research at this company is the environment, biodiversity, and sustainability. Wikipedia.

Natural History Collections (NHCs) play a central role as sources of data for biodiversity and conservation. Yet, few NHCs have examined whether the data they contain is adequately representative of local biodiversity. I examined over 15,000 databased records of Hymenoptera from 1435 locations across New Zealand collected over the past 90 years. These records are assessed in terms of their geographical, temporal, and environmental coverage across New Zealand. Results showed that the spatial coverage of records was significantly biased, with the top four areas contributing over 51% of all records. Temporal biases were also evident, with a large proportion (40%) of records collected within a short time period. The lack of repeat visits to specific locations indicated that the current set of NHC records would be of limited use for long-term ecological research. Consequently, analyses and interpretation of historical data, for example, shifts in community composition, would be limited. However, in general, NHC records provided good coverage of the diversity of New Zealand habitats and climatic environments, although fewer NHC records were represented at cooler temperatures (<5°C) and the highest rainfalls (>5000 mm/yr). Analyses of NHCs can be greatly enhanced by using simple techniques that examine collection records in terms of environmental and geographical space. NHCs that initiate a systematic sampling strategy will provide higher quality data for biodiversity research than ad hoc or point samples, as is currently the norm. Although NHCs provide a rich source of information they could be far better utilised in a range of large-scale ecological and conservation studies. © 2012 Darren F. Source

Before an exotic pathogen can be released as a classical biological control agent the likely positive and negative outcomes of that introduction must be predicted. Host range testing is used to assess potential damage to non-target plants. To-date 28 species of fungi have been released as classical biological control agents against weeds world-wide. These pathogens have been reported infecting only six non-target plant species outdoors and all of these incidents were predicted. Many more non-target plant species developed disease symptoms in glasshouse tests than in the field. Consequently, data from other sources are needed to ensure potential agents are not prematurely rejected. Predictions of pathogen host range to date have been sufficiently accurate to prevent unpleasant surprises. Exotic pathogens are a safe and useful tool for weed control, especially in natural areas rich in valued non-target species. © 2011 International Organization for Biological Control (IOBC). Source

For the kingdom Animalia, 1,552,319 species have been described in 40 phyla in a new evolutionary classification. Among these, the phylum Arthropoda alone represents 1,242,040 species, or about 80% of the total. The most successful group, the Insecta (1,020,007 species), accounts for about 66% of all animals. The most successful insect order, Coleoptera (387,100 species), represents about 38% of all species in 39 insect orders. Another major group in Arthropoda is the class Arachnida (112,201 species), which is dominated by the mites and ticks (Acari 54,617 species) and spiders (43,579 species). Other highly diverse arthropod groups include Crustacea (66,914 species), Trilobitomorpha (19,606 species) and Myriapoda (11,885 species). The phylum Mollusca (117,358 species) is more diverse than other successful invertebrate phyla Platyhelminthes (29,285 species), Nematoda (24,783 species), Echinodermata (20,509 species), Annelida (17,210 species) and Bryozoa (10,941 species). The phylum Craniata, including the vertebrates, represents 64,832 species (for Recent taxa, except for amphibians): among these 7,694 described species of amphibians, 31,958 species of "fish" and 5,750 species of mammals. Copyright © 2011 - Magnolia Press. Source

Tate K.R.,Landcare Research
Soil Biology and Biochemistry | Year: 2015

Global atmospheric methane (CH4) concentrations are now approaching 1800ppbv as a result of the growing imbalance between the net CH4 emissions from natural and anthropogenic sources of this potent greenhouse gas, and its consumption by physical and biological processes. The main focus of this review is on how land-use change and soil management can be used to correct this imbalance. Currently, the main terrestrial source for CH4 is from natural wetlands and irrigated rice cultivation, although improvements in water management during rice production have resulted in major reductions of CH4 emissions from this source. Afforestation and reforestation can also enhance soil CH4 oxidation by influencing the composition and activity of the soil methanotroph (aerobic proteobacteria) community. The effects of these and other land-use changes on soil CH4 oxidation are not generally well understood, but are known to influence this process through their effects on a range of soil properties such as soil moisture, nitrogen status, and pH that also affects methanotroph community structure and function.Recent advances in molecular techniques have confirmed the central role of methanotroph communities in regulating soil CH4 consumption by revealing how they respond to land-use change. Community-level molecular analyses of methanotroph populations under different conditions now provide new insights into the distinct traits of the different subgroups and their ecology.These advances in understanding the abiotic and biological processes regulating soil CH4 oxidation now offers the possibility of being able to predict which land-use and management practices, especially for afforestation and reforestation, will achieve high soil CH4 oxidation rates They also improve the prospects for integrated assessment of the atmospheric impacts on the global greenhouse gas budget from net soil emissions of CH4, N2O, and CO2 with land use and management change. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Spurr E.B.,Landcare Research
New Zealand Journal of Ecology | Year: 2012

The New Zealand Garden Bird Survey started in 2007 primarily to monitor long-term trends in common garden bird populations. The method was based on the Big Garden Bird watch in the UK. Volunteers spent one hour in midwinter each year recording for each bird species the largest number of individuals detected at any one time in their gardens, as an index of abundance. A large number of species was recorded, the two most numerous being house sparrow (Passer domesticus) and silvereye (Zosterops lateralis). There was regional variation in species occurrence and abundance; more species and more individuals of most species in rural than in urban gardens; more individuals of some species and fewer of others in gardens where supplementary food was provided; and changes in the abundance of some species over the 4 years. Potential problems with the methodology and interpretation of the data are discussed. As a consequence of convenience sampling the results apply only to the gardens of participants, not necessarily New Zealand as a whole. The survey has the potential to alert authorities to changes in garden bird population trends, and to provide circumstantial evidence of the success or otherwise of management actions such as restoration planting. ©New Zealand Ecological Society. Source

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