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Wetas, alpine plants win school conservation award

19th October 2006

Wetas and alpine plants win secondary schools’ conservation award

A study on wetas’ reactions to pheromones and a study of the factors that influence the survival of alpine plants were jointly awarded this year’s Department of Conservation’s Auckland Conservator’s Award at the NIWA Auckland City Science and Technology Fair for secondary students.

The award, given out annually to projects by secondary school students that reflect an appreciation of conservation values, was presented during a ceremony at the Alexandra Park Function Centre in Auckland last night.

Louise Armitage, a year twelve student at Diocesan College, was successful with her project on the effect of pheromones on wetas’ behaviour. Louise borrowed six wetas from the University of Auckland, and put them in specially built enclosures that were monitored by a movement detector. She observed the wetas’ behaviour both before and after cleaning out their enclosures, and found they behaved differently (they were less confident and active) once their pheromone-containing faeces were removed.

Justine Paddison, also a year twelve student at Diocesan College, shared the award with a study on the factors that influence the survival of alpine plants. Justine spent a weekend on Ruapehu doing field work before working up her results.

DOC Auckland Conservator, Sean Goddard, said it was very encouraging to see the overall high standard of the projects.

“It’s great to see young people taking such a keen interest in conservation, and building up such impressive levels of knowledge. I’m sure these students will continue to make valuable contributions to conservation.”

The winners will have an opportunity to attend the next release of kiwi chicks on Motuora Island, and will also receive a copy of David Young’s book, ‘Our Islands, Our Selves’.

Three other entries; by Emily Webster, a year nine student from St Cuthbert’s College; Rosie Taylor, a year twelve student from Diocesan College; and Nicholas Harker, a year nine student from Onehunga High School, were highly commended, and will receive a copy of Janet Hunt’s book, ‘A Bird in the Hand’.


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