People, Cities & Nature
People, Cities & Nature is at the forefront of ecological restoration but we aren't the only ones! We are contributing to an exciting and fast-changing research landscape that includes many programmes, students, academics, institutions and groups. Here is a snapshot of some interesting research programmes and projects that are related to People, Cities & Nature:
NZ Biological Heritage Mission: Reverse the decline of New Zealand’s biological heritage, through a national partnership to deliver a step change in research innovation, globally leading technologies and community and sector action - Cape to City Project
New Zealand's Biological Heritage aims to enhance and restore New Zealand’s land-based and freshwater ecosystems – on the conservation estate or in private ownership – by deepening our understanding of which species we have, and seeking science-based solutions to dealing with threats: pest animals and insects, weeds, pathogens, and climate. Hosted by Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, New Zealand’s Biological Heritage is a partnership between 18 organisations:
Quantifying fluxes of energy through soil food webs will shed light on how forest restoration can reinstate functioning and stability in urban ecosystems "PCaN Underground" is funded by a Marsden Fund Fast-Start Grant
In 2019, the EcoDiv Lab was awarded a Marsden Fast-Start Grant for the project ‘Illuminating the dark side of restoration: soil food web reassembly in regenerating forests’, which investigates how urban forest restoration affects below ground biodiversity and ecosystem functioning:
Ecological restoration is vital for repairing human impacts on native biota and ecosystem processes, such as nutrient cycling in soils. Networks of trophic interactions (food webs) determine the structure and function of communities. Yet, we know little about how soil food webs reassemble during long-term restoration, despite their high biodiversity and importance for many key ecosystem processes.
The EcoDiv Lab aims to reveal how soil food webs reassemble over 58 years of active urban forest restoration across New Zealand and the resulting consequences for ecosystem functioning and stability of soil communities.
This research will provide a long-needed integration of food web theory into ecological restoration, thus increasing our ability to predict restoration outcomes for the biodiversity, functioning, and stability of multi-trophic ecosystems.
Invasive species in urban forest - Elizabeth Elliot
PhD - Elizabeth Elliot - The University of WaikatoSupervisors: Bruce Clarkson, Ottilie Stolte, John Innes & Chaitanya Joshi
Elizabeth's PhD research combines ecological and social science to evaluate the contribution that restored native forests in New Zealand cities can make to native bird conservation and reconnecting urban residents with nature. The goal is to identify which factors among local habitat variables, landscape characteristics, site age and predation, determine the ability of native New Zealand bush birds to benefit from urban restoration. Using qualitative, semi-structured interviews she is further exploring whether frequent use of restored forest can re-establish a relationship between people and native nature.
For updates and awesome photos, visit Elizabeth's Urban Bird Project facebook page.
Common grass skink - Chris Woolley
PhD - Sarah Herbert - Victoria University of WellingtonSupervisors: Nicola Nelson & Stephen Hartley
Sarah's PhD research examines whether a form of ecological reconciliation, habitat enhancement (or, ‘gardening for lizards’), can reduce the negative effects of exotic predators (which includes mice, rats, hedgehogs, stoats, weasels, ferrets and cats) on endemic lizard populations. The central questions of the research are:
Southern grass skink in pitfall trap - Chris Woolley
PhD - Ox Lennon - Victoria University of WellingtonSupervisors: Nicola Nelson & Heiko Wittmer
Mitigation translocation is an increasingly common strategy worldwide for reducing damage to wildlife caused by human development and construction. Mitigation translocation is the movement of living organisms from a future development site to another location in an effort to mitigate damage caused to the organisms, and is often a legal requirement. However, this practice may only be fulfilling regulatory requirements rather than providing conservation benefit.
Ox's research uses NZ skinks as a study system to investigate the effectiveness of mitigation translocations for meeting legal and conservation goals, and how mitigation translocation practices might be improved to result in better conservation outcomes.