Research and Development Group

Hitachi-Naka, Japan

Research and Development Group

Hitachi-Naka, Japan
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Moilanen A.,University of Helsinki | Leathwick J.R.,Research and Development Group | Quinn J.M.,NIWA - National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research
Conservation Letters | Year: 2011

We develop a high-resolution conservation prioritization analysis for New Zealand's rivers and streams that simultaneously consider both the present state (representation) of ecosystems, and the prioritization of management actions designed to mitigate ongoing human impacts on their expected future state (retention). As input we used information about the geographic distributions of river ecosystem groups and their compositional similarity, species richness, present condition as compared to their estimated pristine state, and upstream and downstream connectivity. Candidate management actions included riparian planting, establishment of wetlands on tile-drain outflows, and use of riparian buffer strips in plantation forests. The analysis, carried out at a 1-ha resolution for a study area of 22,000 km 2 in Southland, New Zealand, demonstrates a credible range of options for management intervention, particularly in lowland streams under serious threat from agricultural intensification. The proposed analysis can be replicated elsewhere for terrestrial, freshwater, or marine systems using publicly available software. ©2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Robertson H.A.,Research and Development Group | De Monchy P.J.M.,538 Waitao Rd
Bird Conservation International | Year: 2012

In late 2000, five sanctuaries were established on the mainland of New Zealand for the express purpose of protecting populations of five kiwi Apteryx spp. taxa belonging to three species. Conservation management was undertaken at a landscape scale (10,000-20,000 ha) in each sanctuary to improve recruitment of kiwi. This was done by controlling introduced mammalian predators (especially stoats Mustela erminea), and/or by removing eggs and chicks from predation risk, and returning subadults when they were big enough to cope with stoats. Population modelling of the first five years of the sanctuary programme indicated that kiwi numbers in all five sanctuaries would increase as a result of the management. Calculated population increases varied from 0.6% per year at Okarito to 11.3% per year at Moehau, even though predator trapping was more intense at Okarito. The variation from site to site was explained by the widely different inherent productivity of the various kiwi taxa; widely different rates of adult mortality due to the presence or absence of dogs Canis familiaris and ferrets M. furo, the main predators of long-lived adult kiwi; and, local forest conditions affecting predator-prey cycles, and the density of stoats. As a result of this analysis, the management in four of the five sanctuaries has since been modified to try to achieve better overall gains for kiwi within the same operating budget. © 2011 BirdLife International.

Sarmah A.K.,Landcare Research | Rohan M.,Research and Development Group
Journal of Environmental Monitoring | Year: 2011

The performance of four mathematical models (hockey stick, biexponential, first-order double exponential decay, and first-order two-compartment) was evaluated to describe the dissipation kinetics for 4-n-nonylphenol (4-n-NP) and bisphenol-A (BPA) in groundwater-aquifer material slurry under aerobic and anaerobic conditions conducted under controlled laboratory conditions. The fit of each model to the measured values under both conditions was tested using an array of statistical indices to judge the model's ability to fit the measured datasets. Corresponding 50% (DT 50) and 90% (DT 90) dissipation values for each compound were numerically obtained and compared against each model. The model derived DT 50 values in groundwater-aquifer material ranged from 1.06 to 1.24 (4-n-NP) and 0.341 to 0.568 days (BPA) under aerobic condition, while they were 2- to 4-fold higher under anoxic condition. DT 90 values for 4-n-NP ranged anywhere between 2.3 and 4.45 days under both conditions, while DT 90 values for BPA ranged from around 1 day to as high as 12 days under both conditions tested. A visual examination of the measured and fitted plots as well as the statistical indices showed that, with the exception of the hockey stick model, the models performed satisfactorily. Despite having only 3 parameters, the biexponential model could describe the dissipation kinetics very well and this was supported by the statistical indices generated for each case. © 2011 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Hoare J.M.,Research and Development Group | Monks A.,Landcare Research | O'Donnell C.F.J.,Research and Development Group
Ecological Indicators | Year: 2013

Using population indicators to evaluate conservation achievements is widely practised, yet seldom empirically tested. If populations are consistently correlated in response to a shared ecological driver, the indicator species approach can be used as a cost-effective, ecologically-based shortcut to measuring the effects of conservation management. Long-term monitoring of forest bird populations associated with mammalian pest control programmes in New Zealand provides a useful framework for testing the population indicator species concept. We evaluated population trends in 21 bird species vulnerable to predation by introduced mammals (primarily mustelids and rodents) at managed and unmanaged beech (Nothofagus) forest sites. Correlated population trends between species pairs were detected at individual sites. However, neither positive nor negative correlations in species trends could be predicted by life history traits and predator management did not produce consistent, correlated population trends among sites. Our results do not support the use of a population indicator approach to management and reporting for forest birds in New Zealand. Relationships between purported indicator taxa and other species need to be understood for various management scenarios before population indicators can be confidently applied to measuring conservation achievement. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Lettink M.,Fauna Finders | O'Donnell C.F.J.,Research and Development Group | Hoare J.M.,Research and Development Group
New Zealand Journal of Ecology | Year: 2011

Index counts are commonly used to detect spatial and temporal changes in the size of wildlife populations. For indices to be valid there must be a constant (usually linear) relationship between the index and population size. In a study conducted in the Eglinton Valley (Fiordland, South Island, New Zealand), single-day index counts of common skinks (Oligosoma polychroma) from artificial retreats were compared with capture-mark-recapture (CMR) estimates of population size (N) obtained by pitfall trapping. Generalised linear models revealed that skink counts from artificial retreats provided a reasonably accurate (P < 0.05) and highly precise (P < 0.001) index of population size, but only if sampling was conducted under optimal weather conditions. Density ranged from 3639 (2591-6827; 95% CI) to 9245 (6346-16431) skinks ha-1, which was high compared with other common skink populations. We recommend: (1) long-term monitoring of common skinks in the Eglinton Valley, using the index method described herein; (2) calibration of index counts against population size estimates collected from other habitats and species.© New Zealand Ecological Society.

O'Donnell C.F.J.,Research and Development Group
Emu | Year: 2011

In Australasia, wetlands and the birds that inhabit them are under considerable threat. Australasian Bitterns (Botaurus poiciloptilus) are a potential indicator of wetland health but there is an urgent need to collect baseline ecological data and understand processes threatening the species so that conservation actions aimed at reversing apparent declines can be implemented. I collated nest records from New Zealand to determine breeding parameters and highlight areas requiring further research. Nests were recorded throughout the country, and all except one were in wetlands. Booming calls were recorded in most months but peaked between September and November. Breeding was observed from August to May, with most activity in November and December. Nests were in a wide variety of vegetation types, frequently Typha orientalis, and sites were usually surrounded by deep water. Breeding parameters appear similar to those of northern hemisphere species of Botaurus. Australasian Bitterns appear to have a high potential breeding capacity, with large clutches, fairly short incubation periods, and a long breeding season but there are no quantifiable data on nesting success. There are major gaps in our knowledge, and research on breeding should focus on assessing the fate of breeding attempts, potential influence of habitat loss and fragmentation on breeding success, vulnerability to predation by introduced mammals, the interaction between predation risk and water levels, and the roles of food and habitat in sustaining populations. © 2011 Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union.

O'Donnell C.F.J.,Research and Development Group | Hoare J.M.,Research and Development Group
New Zealand Journal of Ecology | Year: 2011

Black-fronted tern (Chlidonias albostriatus) breeding populations on braided rivers in the South Island, New Zealand, are assumed to be in decline as their habitat comes under increasing pressure from exotic pests, hydroelectric power development and water abstraction. We collated 326 index counts of black-fronted terns from 2313 km of surveys on 84 rivers throughout their breeding range to test this assumption. Blackfronted terns were observed on 73% (n = 61) of rivers surveyed, and the sum of the most recent counts was 8325 birds. However, >200 black-fronted terns were counted on only 14% of rivers. We used generalised linear modelling to assess whether population trends could be detected using data from 29 rivers where counts were repeated 4-18 times between 1962 and 2008. We detected significant declines on eight rivers (range 5.5-15.8% p.a.), a significant increase on one river (Eglinton; 16.3% p.a.) and no trends on the remaining 20 rivers. The Eglinton River is the only site at which sustained predator control (aimed at mustelids) occurred throughout the monitoring period. Rivers on which declines have occurred are characterised by having relatively low flows (<30 m3 s-1). At such rates, populations on low-flow rivers (64% of rivers surveyed, representing 51.4% of black-fronted terns counted on the oldest counts) would decline by a further c. 90% within 25 years. Based on these results we predict that if flows were reduced significantly on higher-flow rivers, rates of population decline would accelerate. We conclude that the IUCN status of 'Endangered' is appropriate for black-fronted terns, based on a predicted population reduction of around 50% over the next three generations (c. 30 years). This conclusion is supported by previous studies that described significant loss of habitat, low breeding success and vulnerability to predation by introduced mammals, and population models that predict continued declines towards extinction if management aimed at recovering populations is not instigated with some urgency. © New Zealand Ecological Societ.

Innes J.,Landcare Research | Kelly D.,University of Canterbury | Overton J.M.,Landcare Research | Gillies C.,Research and Development Group
New Zealand Journal of Ecology | Year: 2010

Holdaway (1989) described three phases of historical extinctions and declines in New Zealand avifauna, the last of which (Group III, declining 1780-1986) was associated with European hunting, habitat clearance, and predation and competition from introduced European mammals. Some forest bird species have continued to decline since 1986, while others have increased, usually after intensive species-specific research and management programmes. In this paper, we review what is known about major causes of current declines or population limitation, including predation, competition for food or another resource, disease, forest loss, and genetic problems such as inbreeding depression and reduced genetic variation. Much experimental and circumstantial evidence suggests or demonstrates that predation by introduced mammals remains the primary cause of declines and limitation in remaining large native forest tracts. Predation alone is generally sufficient to explain the observed declines, but complex interactions between factors that vary between species and sites are likely to be the norm and are difficult to study. Currently, the rather limited evidence for food shortage is mostly circumstantial and may be obscured by interactions with predation. Climate and food supply determine the number of breeding attempts made by herbivorous species, but predation by introduced mammals ultimately determines the outcome of those attempts. After removal of pest mammals, populations are apparently limited by other factors, including habitat area, food supply, disease or avian predators. Management of these, and of inbreeding depression in bottlenecked populations, is likely to assist the effectiveness and resilience of management programmes. At the local or regional scale, however, forest area itself may be limiting in deforested parts of New Zealand. Without predator management, the number of native forest birds on the New Zealand mainland is predicted to continue to decline. © New Zealand Ecological Society.

Wouters M.,Research and Development Group
Science for Conservation | Year: 2011

The socio-economic effects of concession-based tourism on local and regional communities and economies were assessed to better inform the New Zealand Department of Conservation's (DOC's) concession management activity. A tourism inventory, in-depth interviews with concessionaires and visitor surveys were undertaken in 2004-2005 to measure concession tourism activity in Tongariro National Park (TNP), Abel Tasman National Park (ATNP) and Fiordland National Park (FNP). The net economic impact of tourism concessions was four and two times the direct impacts of the concessions themselves for TNP and ATNP, respectively. In contrast, net economic impacts were only 90% of the direct impacts for FNP. TNP contributed $30 million of direct turnover, ATNP contributed $4.6 million and FNP contributed $51 million. For every dollar of turnover generated by the concessions, a further 40 cents, 60 cents and 30 cents circulated in the economy in TNP, ATNP and FNP, respectively. Concessioned tourism was also important to employment. Tongariro concessions generated 450 FTEs (full-time equivalent jobs), each of which created another 0.3 jobs, Abel Tasman's 53 FTEs had the flow-on effect of creating an additional 0.4 jobs per FTE, and Fiordland's concessions produced 320 FTEs, leading to the generation of a further 0.2 jobs per FTE. Factors that influenced the magnitude of the effect of the concessioned product on the visitor itinerary included the composition of the gateway community, features of the region's tourism sector, park management, characteristics of the concession visitor and features of the concessioned product. It is recommended that DOC, local authorities, regional tourism organisations and the tourism industry collaborate to gather data about the role of national parks in the development of gateway communities and the regional tourism sector, and that future research includes data collection on both concession and non-concession visitor use of parks. © Copyright July 2011.

O'Donnell C.F.J.,Research and Development Group | Hoare J.M.,Research and Development Group
New Zealand Journal of Ecology | Year: 2012

The control of introduced mammalian predators has become a standard response to protecting the viability of threatened wildlife species on oceanic islands. However, examples of successful outcomes of integrated pest control in forests are few. We investigated the efficacy of a pest control programme in the Landsborough Valley, New Zealand, during 1998-2009, which used continuous trapping to control mustelids and pulsed aerial application of the toxin 1080 to control rats (Rattus spp.) and brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula). We predicted recovery in the populations of mohua (Mohoua ochrocephala) and other predator-sensitive hole-nesting birds and maintenance of numbers of South Island kaka (Nestor meridionalis meridionalis). In addition, we examined whether annual mean counts of mohua and kaka, as potential 'population indicator species', could predict those of other forest bird species. Annual counts of nine species (eight indigenous: bellbird Anthornis melanura, brown creeper Mohoua novaeseelandiae, fantail Rhipidura fuliginosa, grey warbler Gerygone igata, mohua, rifleman Acanthisitta chloris, tui Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae and yellow-crowned parakeet Cyanoramphus auriceps; one introduced: song thrush Turdus philomelos) showed significant increases during the 12-year study period. South Island kaka and redpoll (Carduelis flammea) showed no change with time. In general, trends in the two focal threatened taxa (mohua and kaka) were poor predictors of trends in other bird species. Lack of correlation in annual counts between bird species that share a recovery trajectory are likely due to differences in breeding biology and resource use. Our results suggest that an integrated strategy for predator management is effective at mitigating the impacts of predation by introduced mammals on forest birds, including the most vulnerable species, at a landscape scale. © New Zealand Ecological Society.

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