Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Blog: Moth whispers

Introducing Ahi Pepe MothNet Lite - new classroom activities

9 May 2018

As part of Ahi Pepe MothNet, we have developed a set of resources to help you integrate Ahi Pepe into your class. The constituent units contain most of the special vocabulary you’ll need. Most importantly, we’ve tried to include things that will make the unit enjoyable and fun for everyone.

Our guiding principle is Kaitiakitaka mā te Pūtaiao, mā te Taiao, mā te mahi Toi - Stewardship through Science, Nature, Art.

When we assembled all the resources and as we looked through them we realised that we’ve created a LOT of great stuff!! So that you don’t miss anything, and so that material is easy for you to find, we’ve put together a structure. The resources have been divided into ten units with links to the experiment resources so that you can link the outside activities and the inside activities together. This is just a scaffolding; you could just do the inside activities. Use them however you want – we’re sure everyone will have a slightly different take and we’d love to hear what you’ve done with them and share feedback with our growing community of moth whisperers. We especially love to hear stories from the tamariki and see the pictures they’ve created. We are sure there many of teaching staff who would love to see examples of how other teachers have integrated the units into the kura/school curriculum. Please do follow our Ahi Pepe MothNet Facebook page or join the Ahi Pepe MothNet Whanau Facebook group, and share your stories and images there.

These resources are free to download and print,  and there's something for every age from 3 to 103. Why not share them with your family and friends?

An introduction to the units.

  1. Ahi Pepe
  2. Kā Manu o Rēhua
  3. Te pepe – The Moth
  4. He aha te ki a te pepe? What does the moth eat?
  5. Kei hea au? – Where am I?
  6. He aha tātou a mātai ai? – Why study Moths?
  7. Whakaaiai – Pollination
  8. Mā wai kā pepe a kai? Who eats the moth?
  9. Ahakoa taku iti – The smallest can be mighty
  10. Te Whakamātau - The experiment

We'll add links to the individual units as they go live progressively over the month of May.  The units will also be available via Ahi Pepe | MothNet light: Classroom activities.

The remuremu looper moth – Asaphodes frivola

19 March 2018

Guest post: Brian Patrick

The remuremu looper moth – Asaphodes frivola is a narrow endemic to the Southland coastline south and west of Invercargill. It is now known only from five sites around Awarua Bay, Three Sisters Sand dune and Mokomoko Inlet (Figure 1). It was formerly known from Sandy Point and Otatara but recent surveys have failed to re-discover it in those places. The exact location where the moth’s discoverer, Alfred Philpott, found the sole known male moth is unknown and in the description of the species published by Edward Meyrick in 1913 its Type Locality is simply listed as Invercargill. This unique type specimen is stored in the British Museum of Natural History, London, and remained the only known specimen until the species’ rediscovery by myself in 1981. We know that Alfred Philpott explored around both the New River estuary and Awarua Bay areas from other species he discovered and collected there.

Soon after I rediscovered the male (Figure 2), I found the first female of the species. It has narrow short wings and is flightless, severely restricting the mobility and spread of the species. The moth is confined to saltmarsh where I am confident its caterpillars are feeding on remuremu – Selliera radicans. I have found larval damage on the leaves but haven’t completely proven that this is its hostplant.

In the Department of Conservation’s 2017 of threatened moths and butterflies the species is listed as Nationally Critical – the highest category. I will be travelling south soon to re-monitor it as the adults have an annual life-cycle and emerge from late March through to late April.

Does artificial light at night affect NZ's native moths?

28 February 2018

We want to know if the colour of Artificial Light at Night affects New Zealand's Native moths. Want to find out with us?

If you are in the Dunedin local area and would like to join this year's Ahi Pepe MothNet March experiment let us know.

Thanks to the generous support of Kamahi Electronics and Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research we have a limited number of traps available to lend to the public.

We've had lots of inquiries so don't be shy. This is your chance to participate in some real life science and see cool nightlife.

This is a really cool project to do with kids so we will give priority to kura / primary schools / conservation groups and those in the Orokonui Halo or Peninsula area.

You'll get to see some of New Zealand's amazing native moths up close. Our brand new activity book is about to be launched and you'll get a copy of our amazing Puka Whakamārama o Te Pepe Nui - Beginner's Guide to the Macro Moths for your region to keep.

To experience all this awesomeness:

  1. Follow our Facebook page - so we can communicate effectively with you (feel free to like and share while you are there)
  2. Commit to one night of sampling between the 12th March and 19th of March (setting out either 4 or 10 traps over night (just one night).
  3. Catch the moth sample.
  4. Send the moths to our Dunedin office of Manaaki Whenua.

Ahi Pepe Wānanga in Whānganui

24 February 2018

Local kids bring science and Te reo to radio

3 April 2017

If you missed us on Channel 39 last week, here's your chance to tune in.

Moth of the Day: Parakoka - Orthoclydon praefactata

23 March 2017

From the desk of Dr Anderson.......

Ko Parakoka Te Pepe Nui o te Rā - Moth of the Day Orthoclydon praefactata

Whakatauki - Me te upoko tūkoukou - Like the chrysalis of the Spinx moth (used when likening something to especially fine weaving).

An endemic New Zealand moth, parakoka is responsible for the long thin windows on the underside of the harakeke leaves.  It is a beautiful bright white moth with large silky wings, found throughout New Zealand all summer. Parakoka is in the Geometrid (Tāwhana) family - the caterpillars have the characteristic "bent like a bow / rainbow" shape as they move.

Orthoclydon praefactata features in Dr Robert's (Landcare Research) Photographic Guide to Moths & Butterflies of New Zealand with a beautiful photo by Oliver Ball (the bright white colour morph) and in the Andrew Crowe - Which New Zealand Insect? (the white with buff edges colour morph).  The moth also features on several of our Puka Whakamārama o Te Pepe Nui - Beginner's Guide to the Macro Moths series.

Ahi Pepe | MothNet on the airwaves - radio update

Episode 05:  Kā Kaka Tipu, presented by Jaz, Margarita and our guest scientist Dr Bronwyn Lowe, was fabulous.

The show includes a recording of the Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ōtepoti senior class trip to the Otago Museum to view Kā Kaka Tipu in the Takata Whenua gallery. Followed by a trip to Dr Lowe's lab at the University of Otago were we look at various Kā Kaka Tipu under the School's two dissecting microscopes (purchased through funding won by Whaea Tiahuia last year) and the POLARISING Microscope in the lab.

Online shop

Badges are available for this species and many others from the Ahi Pepe | MothNet online shop or through the "shop now" button on our Facebook page

Live radio show and live music

3 March 2017

Episode three of Kā Manu o Rēhua and Dr Anderson discussed Kaitiakitanga (Guardianship), with special guest Tahu Mackenzie from Orokonui Ecosanctuary, and musician Bill Morris.

Watch this space, also, for news of our new badges. These are being produced and sold to enable students from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ōtepoti to attend the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education in Canada later this year.

Listen to Episode 3 »

Radio show goes to air

17 February 2017

The Ahi Pepe | MothNet project has its own radio show! Kā Manu o Rēhua and Dr Anderson goes live each Friday morning between now and Easter.

Each week  tamariki (children) from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ōtepoti present a mix of everyday science and Te Reo, interviewing a guest scientist and discussing the science at their school.

Grab a cup of tea and tune in as Kā manu o Rēhua and Dr Anderson interview a guest scientist and bring you a mix of everyday science in Te Reo Māori.

Some pics of us in the studio doing the first live show of Kā Manu o Rēhua and Dr Anderson.  So - to kick off, we have Kā Whetū (the Stars) with Dr Ian Griffin.

Listen to Episode 1 »

Project extended

18 January 2017

The wonderful folk at MBIE's Curious Minds have given us a no-cost extension of the Ahi Pepe | MothNet project until the end of the first term (primary school). Of course the workshop has run and completed and we have no extra money but if you know of an extremely keen primary school - especially a small rural one or a Māori immersion (e.g. TKKM) School that you think would be keen to join the experiment phase it's worth giving us a shout out to see if we can work something out.

There's an abundance of information from the workshop on the project website. Go to the Resources link and you'll get downloadable pdfs of all the workshop resources. These cover every stage and step of the experiment.

Also check out the rest of this project blog.

Also remember I'm (Barbara Anderson, project manager) almost always available through the @MothNetNZ twitter feed or by commenting on the MothNet Facebook page.

We'd love you to:

  • Ask us questions
  • Post photos
  • Tell us your moth stories

We're going to start running some give away competitions so stay tuned!

Moth of the Week: Declana atronivea (Geometridae)

21 November 2016

From the desk of Dr Barbara Anderson

The astute among you will notice that this week's moth bears some resemblance to our very first moth of the week (Declana egregia) and they share the same first name. Naming of species in science, the so called Latin names are back to front compared to how we (in English) normally use names. The science names are "Latin" because they are latinised even though the names themselves are often derived from other languages, for instance English, Greek and in NZ Māori.

The Latin name is made up of two parts the genus name followed by the specific epithet. The genus name indicates the immediate close relatives of a species and is similar to how we in English use a surname or perhaps a hapu grouping. The species epiphet is second and each species within the genus has a different specific epiphet (just like brothers and sisters in the same family have different first names so we can tell who we are talking about - or calling for dinner).

All species have two names which together make a unique name for that species (the Latin binomial). There is usually more than one species in a genus (but not always - evolution is a tricky thing) and many very different species may have the same specific epithet (the second part). But together the pair is always unique no two species have the same combination. This is just one of the many things that a taxonomist like Dr Robert Hoare has to check before they name a new species. If you are wondering how someone might end up being a  taxonomist, the  Science Learning Hub has a wonderful short video about Robert's passion for moths.

The genus Declana for instance has 11 named species (there may be more that aren't yet discovered, described or named;  see A Photographic Guide to Moths & Butterflies of New Zealand by Robert Hoare). In New Zealand some form of New Zealand is common as a specific epiphet. A quick goggle search shows a grass Festuca novae-zelandiae; a large tree Laurelia novae-zelandiae; and a fern Blechnum novoae-zelandiae; another grass Koeleria novozelandica; a mollusc Hunkydora novozelandica; and many others.

I should write something about Declana atronivea itself. All 11 Declana species are endemic to New Zealand (found only in New Zealand and nowhere else in the world; see A Photographic Guide to Moths & Butterflies of New Zealand by Robert Hoare). Declana atronivea is one of the few Declana species found only in the North Island and normally I wouldn't have chosen a North Island species for Moth of the Week (at least until we get funding for the North island Puka Whakamārama o te Pepe Nui - Beginners' Guide to Macro Moths series). But this week something rather special happened. Following the Kim Hill interview on Saturday,  I received the most amazing surprise in the post - a ceramic Declana atronivea (North Island Lichen Moth) hand-made and hand-painted by Rebecca Pubben to hang on my office wall. I've changed the profile picture and banner so you can see both the moth photo and the ceramic from Rebecca side by side and see how amazing it really is. I never expected to get fan mail. And it really has made my week.

Declana atronivea's markings look quite striking but against a lichen background they are fantatsic camoflage. According to Dr Robert the larvae resemble twigs of the host plant covered in lichen. The host plant is the NZ native tree Pseudopanax arboreus commonly known as Five Finger, Puahou or Whauwhaupaku.

Moth of the Week - Tmetolophota purdii (Noctuidae: Noctuinae)

31 October 2016

From the desk of Dr Barbara Anderson

This week's is Tmetolophota purdii this is one of my [Barbara Anderson, Project Co-ordinator] absolute favourite moths and you'll notice it on both the Te Taurapa (Southern) and Te Rauawa (West coast) guides. The most part of why I love this moth is its amazing colouring - it's a fabulous deep rusty-orange-burgundy with flashes of muted gold. It's large and velvety and fabulous. Come to think of it not unlike the colour of Mothra (it's Halloween as this is written). The second reason is that this was the first moth that I both caught and identified in my back garden. I think the rush of just knowing that you know which species something is regardless of taxa or geography is something special. I know we found some at Orokonui Ecosanctuary last week, and at Clutha Valley Primary School when we visited with our PSP project in March. I wonder if anyone has photos of it?

The lovely Dr Robert Hoare (Landcare Research) has written us a nice long post about this wonderful moth.

Dr Robert says the English common name for Tmetolophota purdii is "The Orange Astelia Wainscot" - personally I think we can do better than that. It belongs to the family Noctuidae, the largest family of moths in the world, but not in New Zealand, where we have a humble yet noble fauna of 160-odd species. The genus Tmetolophota is one of our endemic genera of the subfamily Noctuinae, and this genus feeds as larvae exclusively on monocotyledonous plants; in the case of T. purdii, on the tank-lilies of the genera Astelia and Collospermum. The name ‘wainscot’ comes from the likeness of many species in this group to the grain of a wooden panel; this camouflages them amongst the dead leaves of their hosts. Tmetolophota purdii is a widespread moth throughout New Zealand, but due to the fact that it never occurs in large numbers, and due to its immeasurable pinkish loveliness, and indeed the plump magnificence of its not inconsiderable size, it is always guaranteed to quicken the pulse of the lepidopterist as he or she lurks by the light trap, with a goblet of liquid sustenance in hand…

Moth of the day: Tatosoma lestevata

25 October 2016

Another fantastic moth that gives instant rebuttal to the common misconception that moths are boring and drab colours. Again, this is a firm favourite at face painting sessions. Tatosoma lestevata recently featured on the front cover of the Landcare Research newsletter Discovery (you can download a beautiful A3 poster depicting a carpet moth (Tatosoma lestevata) in all its green glory).

We chose Tatosoma lestevata as the moth emblem for the Puka Whakamārama o te Pepe Nui - Te Rauawa. This guide covers the West Coast of the South Island from the Hollyford River north to Farewell Spit – the Crosby Moth regions of West Coast (WD), Buller (BR) and Nelson (NN). You can find all these regions and the description of the boundaries in the Crosby et al. 1976 publication.

Te Rauawa region is  named for the gunwales of the waka. The gunwales are the top edge of  planking, and are wet from sea spray most of the time. The Guides to the West Coast and East Coast of the  South Island are named after parts of the waka's hull, and as the West Coast is wetter, it became Te Rauawa. Sean, the graphic design student who worked on our Guides, made the gunwales a different colour to the rest of the waka so you can pick them out. Tatosoma lestevata, with its gorgeous green colouring and distinct wavy lines (four on each forewing), seemed to  embody the lush forest and rough seas of the West Coast.

Tatosoma lestevata isn’t in A Photographic Guide to Moths & Butterflies of New Zealand by Robert Hoare (one of our MothNet scientists) but a couple of siblings  are there. It is in Andrew Crowe’s Which New Zealand Insect? but the  photo does not do it justice at all. According to Andrew, Tatosoma  lestevata is sometimes known as the Tutu Green Spindle. The caterpiller  feeds on the leaves of the native tutu (Coriaria). Tatosoma lestevata is  found in both the North and South Islands like Xyridacma alectoraria and Meterana meyricci. In common with the other moths featuring on the covers of the Guides, Tatosoma lestevata is in the Geometrid family, but  from yet another different subfamily, Larentiinae (Carpet Moths).

Moth of the day: Xyridacma alectoraria

24 October 2016

Another fantastic moth that gives instant rebuttal to the common misconception that moths are boring and drab colours,  Xyridacma alectoraria is a firm favourite at face painting sessions.

We chose Xyridacma alectoraria as the moth emblem for the Puka Whakamārama o te Pepe Nui - Te Tahiwi. This guide covers the East Coast of the South Island from the Waitaki River North the Crosby Moth regions of South Canterbury (SC); Mid Canterbury (MC); North Canterbury (NC); Kaikoura (KA); Marlbourgh (MB) and the Marlbourgh Sounds (SD).- You can find all these regions and the description of the boundaries in the Crosby et al. 1976 publication.

Te Tahiwi region is named for the hull of the waka. We named the East Coast and West Coast of the South Island as a pair both alluding to different sections of the hull. The East Coast being the drier became Te Tahiwi. Xyridacma alectoraria with its gorgeous yellow wings seemd an appropriate emblem for a region characterized by sun and golden (white) wines.

Xyridacma alectoraria is briefly mentioned in A Photographic Guide to Moths & Butterflies of New Zealand by Robert Hoare (one of the scientists involved in MothNet), under the entry of its closely related by slightly small sibling Xyridacma ustaria. But has its own entry in Andrew Crowe’s Which New Zealand Insect?. According to Andrew Xyridacma alectoraria is sometimes known as the Five Finger Looper. Not because it has five fingers (moths don’t have fingers) but because the caterpiller feeds on the leaves of the native five finger tree (Pseudopanax arboreus). Xyridacma alectoraria is a Geometrid (the same family as Declana egregia) but from a different subfamily the Oenochrominae. Geometrids and the subfamily that Xyridacma alectoraria are often described as the moths that are the most similar to butterflies – we like to think of them as the moths that butterflies are most similar to.

All Geometrids are known colloquially as loopers. This comes from the way the caterpillars move – arching up like a bent bow and moving along the leaf or twig. The classic children's song Inchworm is about a Geometrid caterpiller. See Sesame Street do a rendition on YouTube . The te reo Māori term for geometrids Tāwhana,  references the same caterpillar form with Tāwhana also referring to a rainbow. The yellow of Xyridacma alectoraria could certainly be from a rainbow.

Moth of the day: Meterana meyricci aka aka the "Pink Moth"

23 October 2016

This moth is as fantastic as the images below suggest. Meterana meyricci is the instant rebuttal to the common misconception that moths are boring and drab colours. It is a firm favourite at face painting sessions.

You can see from the images below that the brightly coloured pink is on the hind wings and abdomen but not the forewings, thorax or head. This is quite a common strategy in the insect world as it means the moth can close its forewings over the brightly coloured pink parts and hide. Bright colours that can be hidden like this are usually used for signalling - it's the moth equivalent of a tudor court lady flashing an ankle.

We chose Meterana meyricci as the moth emblem for the Puka Whakamārama o te Pepe Nui - Te Hīheru. This guide covers the dry inland basins of the Central South Island the Crosby Moth regions of Central Otago (CO); Otago Lakes (OL) and the MacKenzie Basin (MK). You can find all these regions and the description of the boundaries in the Crosby et al. 1976 publication (1).

Te Hīheru region is named for the bailer that is usually depicted as sitting on the center of the stern end of the waka. Appropriate for these dry dusty basins, this is the region that I (Barbara Anderson) grew up in and the local streams often have small pieces of pink stone. I have since found out that this is called Piemontite schist or Aroha stone. If you take another look at the forewings of Meterana meyricci you’ll see that amongst the luxurious grey green they are studded with flakes of gold. An appropriate emblem for a region whose recent history was so heavily influenced by gold mining. Te Hīheru is the only guide that Meterana meyricci (the Pink Moth) appears on.

Moth of the day: Declana egregia

22 October 2016

Today's moth is Declana egregia. We choose this beautiful moth as the spokesMoth for Puka Whakamārama o te Pepe Nui - Te Taurapa (the Southern South Island Beginners' Guide to Macro moths).

Also know as the South Island Lichen Moth  or the South Island Zebra Moth Declana egregia features on the New Zealand $100 bill.

Declana egregia is a Geometrid of strikingly beautiful patterns. It was a hard job to select just one moth species for the cover of each of our Macro Moth Guides. We looked for a moth that was special to the region, distinctive and with some symbolism in the colouring. The colouring is also reflected in the shading of the region in the South Island (the waka reflection) on the front cover.

The snowy-white of chocolate brown reminded us of the southern frosts over rich deep soils of the Southland plains. Declana egregia of course uses the colourings and patterning of its wings as camoflage against a lichen back drop.

Pūrerehua - Waiata for a Butterfly/Moth

21 October 2016

- thanks to Matariki Wehi for sourcing this

rere runga hau
Papaki parihau
Rere runga hau
Ka piki, ka piki
Runga rawa e
Papaki parihau
Rere runga hau

Ka tau, ka tau
Runga pūāwai 
Ka whānauhua
A pūrerehua
Katahi, ka rua
Ka toru, ka wha
Ka ru, ka rē
Ka puta e whā whē

rere runga hau
Papaki parihau
Rere runga hau
Ka piki, ka piki
Runga rawa e
Papaki parihau
Rere runga hau

Ka kai, ka kai 
Ka pau ngā rau 
Ka huri ngā whē 
Hei tungoungou 
Ka tahi, ka rua 
Ka toru, ka wha

rere runga hau
Papaki parihau
Rere runga hau
Ka piki, ka piki
Runga rawa e
Papaki parihau
Rere runga hau

Ka huri takaweri 
Ka tungoungou 
Ka puta ki waho 
He upoko nui 
He waewae roa 
He parihau pakipaki 
Rū rū rū rū re re rē re
Ru ru ru ru e

rere runga hau
Papaki parihau
Rere runga hau
Ka piki, ka piki
Runga rawa e
Papaki parihau
Rere runga hau

Rere runga hau 
Rere runga hau

carried on the wind.
Fluttering its wings 
on the wind.
Up and up,
way up high
fluttering its wings 
on the wind.

It lands 
on a flower 
to lay its eggs, 
this butterfly.
One, two, 
three, four.
They shake and quiver, 
out pops four caterpillars.

carried on the wind.
Fluttering its wings 
on the wind.
Up and up,
way up high
fluttering its wings 
on the wind.

They eat and eat,
every leaf consumed.
The caterpillars 
become pupae.
One, two, 
three, four.

carried on the wind.
Fluttering its wings 
on the wind.
Up and up,
way up high
fluttering its wings 
on the wind.

They quiver and change
from a pupa.
Out pops
a head,
a long bendy leg.
Fluttering wings
Flitter, flutter, flap.
carried on the wind.
Fluttering its wings 
on the wind.
Up and up,
way up high
fluttering its wings 
on the wind.

carried on the wind.
carried on the wind.

Beginners' Guides have arrived!

21 October 2016

From the desk of Dr Barbara Anderson, Ahi Pepe - MothNet Project Leader

The guides arrived yesterday 26 BOXES!!! The Beginners' Guides have all been printed and folded into a nice little concertina booklet that is easy to use in the field. We have:

  • EIGHT guides covering
  • FOUR bio-regions and
  • TWO languages (Te reo Māori and English)

Its hard to put into words how amazing it is to see them finally completely finished after all the hours of work. Thank you to the good folks Landcare Research.

First and foremost of course my co-conspirator Robert Hoare (Dr Robert) for his love of Moths, his eye for detail and expertise that he has so willingly shares and contributes to this project. To Birgit for the amazing moth images that truly make these guide what they are. For Nicolette who painstakingly scaled each moth to life size (all 222 of them) and of course all of the good folk who share offices with me for enduring the last few months of stress and fretting.

Huge props to Sean Gilles the talented illustrator from the Otago Design School Otago Polytechnic for the fantastic illustration full of symbolism and deftly merging cultural reference with natural history and science.

The enthusiasm and thoroughness that our colleagues at Kāi Tahu Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu and Te Tumu - School of Māori, Pacific & Indigenous Studies brought to this project have been a constant source of inspiration.

Tiahuia and the tamariki of te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ōtepoti who convinced me this project needed taking on and who make the long hours worth while - these guides are dedicated to you.

Tahu Orokonui Ecosanctuary for her endless good sense and positiveness and Dr Ralf Ohlemuller (Department of Geography, University of Otago) who does a million things as a science sounding board and is the best colleague and husband you could wish for.

Ahi Pepe | MothNet Seeding the Network Workshop

21 October 2016

The Ahi Pepe | MothNet Workshop is coming up very soon!  Everyone is working hard to make this the most fantastic celebration of moths the South Island has ever seen. 

What are we going to be looking at at the workshop?

Everything you need to know to do and teach a simple science experiment. Looking at moth diversity.

Kā Puka Whakamārama o Te Pepe Nui

Beginners' Guide to Macro Moths - the South Island Series

Eight guides in Te Reo Māori and English cover the Souh Island in four bioregions.

Cover all the SKILLS needed to collect Standardised quantitative moth data - setting the Heath moth traps, checking the traps, pinning, labelling, making a moth reference collection AND using the GUIDES to identify the moths

  • CONDUCT a small experiment 'How does Orokonui Ecosanctuary affect the surrounding Moth Communities?'
  • Create a small moth reference collection for Orokonui Ecosanctuary
  • MEASURE micro-climate factors, e.g., wind speed, wind direction, temperature, humidity
  • USE tracking tunnels to look at mammal pest density (e.g., mice, rats, possums, stoats, hedghogs) outside the Orokonui fence - Elton will do the inside for us :)
  • Get to know each other - schools from across the South Island are sending champions plus all the scientists and experts from the MothNet team.

Exciting addition to the MothNet workshop

10 October 2016

Barbara Anderson  met with the fabulous Emma Burns from Otago Museum, and between them they have arranged to add an add on to the MothNet Workshop.

A behind the scenes look at biological collections!!

This is an optional add-on that has been organized for the morning of Wednesday 26th for those planning to travel on the Tuesday.

Space in the collections is tight and strictly regulated so we need to plan the numbers.

If you are interested Pleaseadvise of numbers and ages ASAP.

The Beginners' Guides to the Macro Moths - a world first?

6 October 2016

Kā Puka Whakamārama o Te Pepe Nui.

The Beginners' Guides to the Macro Moths series is, to our knowledge, a world first. This is the first field-guide to Macro Moths in Kāi Tahu dialect!

Together the Ahi Pepe | MothNet project partners Landcare Research, Te Tumu - School of Māori, Pacific & Indigenous Studies, Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu,Department of Geography, University of Otago, Orokonui Ecosanctuary Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ōtepoti have developed something fabulous. It's not just a translation a guide with the English words translated into Kāi Tahu dialect - That would be too easy. This is something completely new and beautiful.

This is a re-imagining that will engage tamariki across Te Waiponamu in the beauty and value of Pepe nui.

We've just come back from the printers with final quotes and numbers. Plates are being made.

If you know someone who's got an interest in Moths, insects in general, nature, science or conservation that you think would like to join our Ahi Pepe | MothNet - we are casting the net wide. Post a comment. Give us a name, a reason and a school and we'll send you the guide to the Macro Moths for your region of Te Waiponamu.


Amazing schools

6 October 2016

We have some truly amazing schools participating in this year's Curious Minds Ahi Pepe MothNet project. Most of these schools have a facebook presence and a website.

If you are part of one of these great little communities and you want to join in with the Mothy fun feel free to follow this page and follow our progress as we set out on an ambitious project to explore moth diversity and Vegetation Restoration projects across the South Island.

Find out more about the participating schools ...



3 October 2016

Today Ella Hayman is back on board as part of the Landcare Research team bringing Ahi Pepe MothNet to a primary school near you. Welcome back Ella!!

Ella is one of Landcare Research's best technicians (I know I'm a bit biased) among Ella's many skills is plant identification and organizing for fieldwork campaigns. She's currently drawing together a folder full of resources for our Ahi Pepe MothNet champions to take back to their family, friends and schools so that we know everyone in the Ahi Pepe MothNet Network is collecting the same data in the same way.

What is a protocol?

Clear, efficient protocols are one of the main ways scientists make sure that data is reproducible. A protocol is a fancy way of saying a set of instructions. If we were baking a cake the 'protocol' would be the recipe. In fact science is a lot like baking.

We usually start with a list of ingredients (the equipment we need for the experiment). This is followed by a step-by-step set of clear instructions in a logical order. Just like recipes, some protocols are clear and easy to follow, and some less so. Ahi Pepe MothNet is lucky to have Ella making sure all our recipes are clear and easy to follow.

The South Island Experiment

1 October 2016

Does vegetation restoration restore the ecosystem function?

The end goal of the Ahi Pepe | MothNet project is to design and run a South Island-wide experiment investigating the question 'Does vegetation restoration restore the ecosystem connections?'.  The field work (2-4 nights trapping) needs to be completed before mid-December 2016.

The intention is that each school will run a 'block' of the national experiment. We will use some time at the workshop to select potential sites near each school. One each of:

  • A vegetation restoration site (i.e the TREATMENT, e.g. a native planting, some of your schools will already be involved in a vegetation restoration project)
  • A mature near-native site (i.e. REFERENCE e.g. a local fragment or reserve of native vegetation)
  • A background site with vegetation similar to the restoration site BEFORE the restoration (i.e. a CONTROL, e.g. the school playing fields)

The important thing is to have three sites (vegetation restoration/treatment, reference/mature-state and background/control) that are as similar as possible in everything (e.g. elevation, aspect, distance to coast) except what we are testing (i.e. the vegetation restoration) there are limits to how similar we can achieve so we cope with this by measuring as many other variables (e.g. temperature, humidity, wind, small mammals) as possible (to quantify the differences) and by replication.

For the workshop it would be to have as many suggestions as you (and the family and friends around your area) can come up with and to bring along whatever information you have on these already (e.g. a photo of the site, exact location and name, size, what the history of the site is).

If your group/community are keen there is nothing to stop your group having more than one block (set of the three sites treatment, reference, control).

Fell free to post pictures of the potential sites here on the face book page. We can't wait to see them. Ask family and friends there is a lot of knowledge out there in the community. Maybe a local farmer has started replanting along a river or creek. Maybe Department of Conservation (NZ) - West Coast​ has a project nearby?

Remember also vegetation restoration comes in many forms. It could be: REPLANTING, Predator control (e.g. TRAPPING, poisoning, fencing); it could be FENCING out stock and letting the site naturally regenerate from a local seed source.

Ahi Pepe | MothNet is going to run an experiment

20 September 2016

There are five things that all experiments need. you can use our experiment as an example to make an experiment to test almost anything you want to know the answer to. You don't need to be a real scientist you don't need to wear a white coat, or make an explosion, you don't need crazy hair, or glasses (unless you are blowing something up then you need safety glasses), or a y chromosome (but it's ok if you happen to have one), or chemicals. But there are a few things you do need.....

  1. A QUESTION - e.g. Does vegetation restoration restore ecosystem connections?

  2. A TREATMENT designed to test the question (e.g. a vegetation restoration project)

  3. A CONTROL for anything that might affect the results - aside from the one thing we want to test. The treatment and control should be as similar as possible in every way except for the one thing we are testing. If we want to test how vegetation restoration affects moth diversity ideally we would find two locations that were as similar as possible and then randomly assign one to the treatment (vegetation restoration) and the other to the control (no vegetation restoration). The natural world is complex and somethings take a long time or happen over large areas this means Ecology is more difficult than most science fields so sometimes we need to be creative. Sometimes we just need to do a lot more work. In our case we have a difficult question because vegetation restoration takes longer than we have. One way of getting around this limitation is to pick two sites that are as similar as possible in every way except that one has a vegetation restoration project and then think of all the other things that might be important and measure these. We call these other things covariates.

  4. A RESPONSE - Something that we can MEASURE or COUNT that represents the answer. Our question is a bit difficult - But there are some things we can do to make it easier. First, if we can make the question a bit more specific this is easier e.g. instead of ecosystem connections we could say moth diversity; Instead of "Does vegetation restoration restore moth diversity?". The next tricky part is 'restore'. What do we mean by restore? what are we aiming for? What would restored moth diversity look like? The easiest way to decide this is to find somewhere that has the vegetation we are aiming for with our restoration project - A target or reference site. We still need to control for all the other things, the covariates, that might be different between the two sites. We can save ourselves a bit of work by sticking to the ones that are most likely to affect moth diversity. Ok so now we can say "Is the moth diversity in our vegetation restoration site (the treatment) more similar to the moth diversity in our target or reference site than the moth diversity in a similar site without vegetation restoration (our control site), taking into account all the other, hopefully minor, things (the covariates) that might affect moth diversity?"- Ok that's not as snappy but its a bit easier to work with.

  5. REPLICATION allows us to show that the effect of the treatment is real and not due to chance differences between the treatment and the control. Small effects are harder to find. More complex systems (like the nature world) have more other things going on so they make it more difficult to show the difference between the treatment and the control (the signal). You can think of it like looking for something you dropped. If the thing you dropped is large, it's easier to find, nearly every time you reach for it you'll get it. If the thing you dropped always falls in exactly the same way and place its easier to find.

An introduction to the MothNet Project

4 August 2016

One of our MSc students, Nick, created this great video about MothNet - hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

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