Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


Scientists stage round-the-clock search

7 April 2005

Scientists stage round-the-clock search for life in Christchurch

Judy Grindell showing children what’s living in the leaf litter at the Auckland BioBlitz.
Photo by Peter Buchanan

Hagley Park and the Botanic Gardens are already well known to most Christchurch people, but will come under closer scrutiny this weekend, as hordes of scientists probe the undergrowth, fish the Avon and scour the bush for creatures, day and night.

“BioBlitz – finding nature in the city” is a 24-hour quest from 3pm Friday, April 8 to 3pm Saturday, April 9, to find as many different non-human life forms as possible. A team of more than 80 biologists will scour the park and the gardens recording everything they can find, dead or alive; from plants to fungi to fish to animals, diurnal and nocturnal. They will keep a running tally.

The public are welcome to see the scientists at work at a base camp not far from the Garden’s Information Centre. There will be posters, microscopes, talks and displays, and the chance to join in field trips. Guides will take visitors to see or to help with spotting eels by torchlight, electric fishing, looking for mammal pests, bird watching, sweep-netting grass for insects, light-trapping moths at night, fossicking for algae and fungi, searching for plants, and touring the Botanic Gardens.

For the “weird” factor, visitors can see bacteria and algae from soil, plants and waterways that have been cultured onto agar jelly. They can also look down microscopes to watch tiny soil animals running around in leaf litter. Also, visitors will be able to see the inky footprints left by animals such as hedgehogs walking through tracker tunnels, or the bite marks of rats and others in special wax blocks.

The event is being organised by Landcare Research, Lincoln University and Christchurch City Council, with a big contribution from Botanic Gardens staff. Canterbury University, NIWA, Crop & Food Research, the Department of Conservation, Weed Busters, Environment Canterbury, Kaupapa Kereru and others are also participating.

BioBlitz in Christchurch follows a successful event in Auckland last month, in which such delights as dog vomit slime mould and blood-sucking leeches were found. BioBlitz spokesperson, Landcare Research PR/ Communications Manager Judy Grindell says she hopes the event will demonstrate to locals that there is a great deal more living in urban areas than they think.

“People recognise the large, above ground biodiversity such as plants, trees and animals such as birds, but they do not realise how full of life the area really is, and how important all the unseen species are to the health of our environments.

“For example, a teaspoon of soil may contain millions of bacteria and many kilometres of fungal threads. These micro-organisms have essential roles in nutrient cycling. The insects and fish living in waterways are often good indicators of water quality, and there will be students from Manning Intermediate in Hoon Hay demonstrating their stream monitoring work at BioBlitz.”

Botanic Gardens curator Dr David Given says BioBlitz will be a great opportunity for people to get to know the park and gardens better with the help of lots of friendly scientists.

“There will be dozens of experts in their fields here, and they are all very approachable people.

“We will be keeping separate tallies for the Gardens and the rest of Hagley Park. The huge number of plant species in the Gardens will help to highlight the role and scientific importance of Botanic Gardens.

“It will help to have a catalogue of what is here, to help us make decisions for future management, and to ascertain if there are areas that deserve special protection.”

Media and the public are welcome to attend BioBlitz at any time during the day. The main Botanic Gardens carpark off Armagh Street will remain open until at least 8pm. However other entrances to the Botanic Gardens will close at 6.30pm as usual. Visitors after dark should bring a torch.

Programmes outlining times for events and departures of field trips are available to media on request.

Christchurch Mayor Garry Moore will open BioBlitz at 3pm on Friday and ECan Chief Executive Dr Bryan Jenkins will close the event at 3pm on Saturday, revealing how many species have been found.

The BioBlitz website:


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


DIY: Kiwi Ingenuity And Masking Tape Saves Chick

Kiwi ingenuity and masking tape has saved a Kiwi chick after its egg was badly damaged endangering the chick's life. The egg was delivered to Kiwi Encounter at Rainbow Springs in Rotorua 14 days ago by a DOC worker with a large hole in its shell and against all odds has just successfully hatched. More>>


Trade: Key To Lead Mission To India; ASEAN FTA Review Announced

Prime Minister John Key will lead a trade delegation to India next week, saying the pursuit of a free trade agreement with the protectionist giant is "the primary reason we're going" but playing down the likelihood of early progress. More>>



MYOB: Digital Signatures Go Live

From today, Inland Revenue will begin accepting “digital signatures”, saving businesses and their accountants a huge amount of administration time and further reducing the need for pen and paper in the workplace. More>>

Oil Searches: Norway's Statoil Quits Reinga Basin

Statoil, the Norwegian state-owned oil company, has given up oil and gas exploration in Northland's Reinga Basin, saying the probably of a find was 'too low'. More>>


Modern Living: Auckland Development Blowouts Reminiscent Of Run Up To GFC

The collapse of property developments in Auckland is "almost groundhog day" to the run-up of the global financial crisis in 2007/2008 as banks refuse to fund projects due to blowouts in construction and labour costs, says John Kensington, the author of KPMG's Financial Institutions Performance Survey. More>>


Health: New Zealand's First ‘No Sugary Drinks’ Logo Unveiled

New Zealand’s first “no sugary drinks logo” has been unveiled at an event in Wellington... It will empower communities around New Zealand to lift their health and wellbeing and send a clear message about the damage caused by too much sugar in our diets. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news