Home' Advocate Communications : Fiordland Advocate 15 September 2011 Contents LOCAL NEWS
15 September, 2011 | Page 3
A Massey University student carrying out
what's thought to be the first nationwide
study of tuis was in Fiordland last week
taking DNA samples from the local
Sarah Wells is part of the ecology and
conservation group at the Auckland campus
and elected to study tuis for her PhD.
The work, carried out over several years, is
taking her from the Kermadec Islands to the
sub-Antarctic and many places in between.
Assisted by Mithuna Sothieson, also from
Auckland, she is catching and taking blood
samples, along with vital measurements
such as head size and wing sizes, from 30
tuis at each location in order to see how the
different populations are connected and
how far they move around New Zealand.
For example, she's interested in seeing
how populations in Te Anau, which has
a vast expanse of native habitat, differ
from those in the likes of Invercargill
which is dominated by urban and farming
landscapes. Likewise, her testing will show
whether tuis caught in Invercargill have any
genetic connection with those on Stewart
Island or elsewhere in New Zealand.
She has already been astounded at the
differences in the size of the tuis found
on the Chattam Islands and suspects they
might even be an endangered sub-species.
"The females over there are the size of
the males here and the males there are
massive," she said.
A paper published in the 1980s, based on
a study of banded birds, showed that tuis
travelled up to 30km in search of food.
The DNA research undertaken by Miss
Wells would be far more conclusive and
show exactly how connected the various
populations really were.
"They're good flyers so I'm expecting that
they do travel large distances," she said.
Now in the third year of her PhD study, Miss
Wells estimates it will be at least another
year before her work is finished and her
thesis published. She expects it will attract
some interest as most studies of this nature
have been on more endangered species
and little scientific work has previously been
done on tuis.
Her work has attracted partial funding
from the university and Forest and Bird but
Miss Wells said she was heavily reliant on
people's generosity when carrying out her
This had included offers of accommodation
and invitations to people's properties where
tuis are regulars at bird feeders which made
them easier to catch.
DNA study gives insight to tui population
Massey University student Sarah Wells, of
Auckland, takes a blood sample from a tui that
will be used to get a better idea of the genetic
connection between the various populations
around the country.
Field assistant Mithuna Sothieson holds a tui caught at Ray and Helen Willett's Te Anau property
on Thursday while Massey University student Sarah Wells records details as part of a DNA research
The Southland District Council and the
Department of Conservation (DOC) have
launched a pilot scheme in the Te Anau and
Manapouri areas to encourage responsible
camping this summer.
The Freedom Camping Act, which was
recently ratified by Parliament, enables the
joint venture between the two organisations
The project involves employing a new
camping ranger to patrol conservation and
local authority areas around Te Anau and
Manapouri. The ranger has the power to
issue tickets to those breaching camping
Southland District Council's compliance
officer Angela Halliday said the ranger
would focus primarily on education and
advocacy, with fines being issued as a last
"We want to ensure that this initiative is
not seen as anti-camping but instead pro-
responsible camping," Ms Halliday said.
The ranger will complement the existing
camping wardens who patrol areas within
the towns during the summer season.
"Although Te Anau and Manapouri are the
main focus over Rugby World Cup time for
camping, consultation with other areas in
Southland where freedom camping has
become an issue will be undertaken," Ms
The council and DOC have signed a
Memorandum of Understanding for
Responsible Camping in the Te Anau and
Manapouri regions to accompany the
initiative. The memorandum sets out a joint
education and advocacy strategy covering
issues such as public meetings, information
material and partnership networks.
DOC programme manager Christine Officer
said the aim of the memorandum was
to promote responsible camping using
education and information provisions.
"Both organisations are excited to be
working together in a collaborative
approach to tackle the freedom camping
issue within the local community," Ms
Recruitment for the new position is under
way, with the ranger expected to start in
mid October for the first seven-month term.
Information on designated freedom
camping areas is available on Southland
District Council's website at www.
For nationwide information on freedom
camping visit www.camping.org.nz.
Partnership to monitor
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