Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

New species identified at NZ’s first wetland Bioblitz

School students have discovered new bacterial species in Aotearoa’s first wetland BioBlitz.

In celebration of World Wetlands Day, BioBlitz, the 24-hour public science competition to identify the highest number of species in a particular location, took place south of Hamilton within the National Wetland Trusts’ predator- free site at Lake Rotopiko.

Wetlands, or repo, are often referred to as the kidneys of the environment – playing a crucial part in filtering and removing waste; however, over the past 150 years, 90% of Aotearoa’s wetlands have been lost.

Rotopiko BioBlitz ‘coordinator’ Monica Peters won the competition to host a BioBlitz at an event last year. She says she jumped at the chance for members of the public and school students learning more about wetlands.

“It’s great to be able to give them [students and the public] an opportunity to come out here and not only visit the site but engage them with scientists as well.”  

School students enjoyed getting their hands dirty searching for species, racing back to have them identified on site by Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research scientists.

“From the scientists’ point of view, we are getting some new species. It’s a great opportunity to find out what does live here – what plants, what animals, what invertebrates and fungi and bacteria reside here. I know there are some new bacterial species that haven’t been identified before,” says Manaaki Whenua wetland ecologist Bev Clarkson.

And while it was a fun day of hands-on learning for school children and the public, it was a dream come true for the New Zealand National Wetlands Trust.

“It’s not the sort of thing that we could have afforded to do on our own – so to have that gifted to us has allowed us to collect information we would never have been able to collect in any other way,” says National Wetlands Trust executive officer Karen Denyer.

Over 600 species were identified at the Rotopiko BioBlitz. The new findings and information will go to the National Wetland Trust of New Zealand, Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, Biological Heritage National Science Challenge, Department of Conservation and Waipa District council.

The BioBlitz was funded by MBIE’s Curious Minds programme.

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