Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Conservation assessment of the indigenous biota

What is the  problem?

New  Zealand’s unique indigenous biota has been severely impacted since the arrival  of the first humans about 800 years ago. The challenge for conservation  managers is to understand the status of threatened species so that limited  funding to protect and restore threatened biota can be invested effectively.

How did we  approach resolving the problem?

Detailed  systematics knowledge is essential for conservation management. Landcare Research’s  systematics staff are in a unique position to contribute to the triennial  Department of Conservation (DOC) sponsored Threat Classification System  assessments, due to years of expertise studying the systematics of plant,  animal and fungal species.

Landcare  Research supports the assessments with authoritative up-to-date names of  threatened and at-risk species, comments on informally recognised ‘tag named’  entities awaiting formal description, information on their distribution and  abundance and biology, as well as data and vouchers through our relevant Nationally  Significant Collections and Databases.

In the last  three years we have worked with DOC and other participating organisations (e.g. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa  Tongarewa, Auckland Museum, University of Canterbury, Lincoln University,  AgResearch, Plant & Food Research)to  review the lists of threatened fungi, insects and plant species. We have reviewed  all named taxa of plants, invertebrates and fungi in New Zealand, as well as  unnamed, informally recognised entities.

The 2012  review of vascular plants added about 40 taxa to the ‘Nationally Threatened’  category (total now about 220 taxa). This significant change is largely due to  the decline in ephemeral wetlands and partly due to identification of new  species that have been designated ‘Nationally Threatened’. A large number of  invertebrate species have also had their threat rankings changed, again partly  due to newly discovered species. Thanks to targeted research, we have moved 112  fungal taxa from the ‘Data Deficient’ lists.

The  collaboration between Landcare Research and the DOC-sponsored listing process  has led to new threat rankings that are reported in eight peer-reviewed papers  and two unpublished reports co-authored by DOC and Landcare Research staff.

Who has  adopted our innovation?

DOC,  regional councils, MfE and other conservation managers.

What impact  has this innovation had on adopters?

The threat  assessments have important implications for conservation and biodiversity in  New Zealand. DOC and other end-users use the results from the New Zealand  Threat Classification System assessments to help guide conservation effort. For  example the species identified as threatened and at-risk are the basis of the  DOC Species Optimisation project, which is designed to maximise the value  gained from resources committed to the protection of threatened species. The  New Zealand Threat Classification System is also used by other agencies such as  MfE for state-of-the-nation biodiversity indicators.


Buckley TR,  Palma RL, Johna PM, Gleeson DM, Hitchmough RA, Stringer IAN 2012. Threat  classification of small or less well known groups of New Zealand terrestrial  invertebrates (2009): Acari, Annelida, Chilopoda, Diplura, Insecta -  Dermaptera, Odonata, Phasmatodea, Phthiraptera; Nemertini, Onychophora,  Opiliones and Platyhelminthes (2010 revision). New Zealand Entomologist: in  press.

Cameron EK,  de Lange PJ, Given DR, Johnson PN, Ogle CC 1993. New Zealand Botanical Society  threatened and local plant lists (1993 revision). New Zealand Botanical Society  Newsletter 32: 14–28.

de Lange PJ,  Norton DA, Courtney SP, Heenan PB, Barkla JW, Cameron EK, Hitchmough, R,  Townsend AJ 2009. New Zealand extinct, threatened and at risk vascular plant  list. New Zealand Journal of Botany 47: 61–96.

de Lange PJ,  Rolfe J, Courtney SP, Barkla JW, Cameron EK, Heenan PB, Hitchmough R, Norton  DA, in prep. New Zealand extinct, threatened and at risk vascular plant list. New  Zealand Journal of Botany.

Hoare R,  Patrick BH, Dugdale JS, Edwards E, Hitchmough RA, Stringer IAN 2012. The  conservation status of threatened New Zealand Lepidoptera (2010 revision). New  Zealand Entomologist: in press.

Johnston PR  2010. Data Deficient Leotiomycete fungi. Landcare Research Contract Report  LC910/138, prepared for the Department of Conservation.

Johnston P,  Park D, Dickie I, Walbert K 2010. Using molecular techniques to combine  taxonomic and ecological data for fungi: reviewing the Data Deficient fungi  list, 2009. Science for Conservation 306. Wellington, Department of  Conservation.

Leschen RAB,  Marris JWM, Emberson RM, Nunn J, Hitchmough RA, Stringer IAN. 2012. The  conservation status of threatened New Zealand Coleoptera (2010 revision). New  Zealand Entomologist: in press.

McKenzie EHC  2011. Data Deficient rust fungi. Landcare Research Contract Report LC316, prepared  for the Department of Conservation.

Sirvid PJ,  Vink C, Wakelin MD, Fitzgerald BM, Hitchmough RA, Stringer IAN 2012. The  conservation status of threatened New Zealand spiders (2009 revision). New  Zealand Entomologist: in press.

Stringer  IAN, Hitchmough RA, Larivière M-C, Eyles AC, Teulon DAG, Dale PJ, Henderson RC  2012. The conservation status of New Zealand Hemiptera (2009 revision). New  Zealand Entomologist: in press.

Ward DF,  Early JW, Schnitzler FR, Hitchmough RA, Stringer IAN 2012. The conservation  status of New Zealand Hymenoptera (2010 revision). New Zealand Entomologist: in  press.

Yeates GW,  Zhao Z, Hitchmough RA, Stringer IAN 2012. Conservation status of New Zealand  nematodes (2009 revision). New Zealand Entomologist: in press.