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

 

Fowl smells could help native birds

Fowl smells could help native birds

A Kiwi scientist is following his nose and testing a novel approach which could help save nesting native birds from predators.

It is estimated 25 million native birds are killed in New Zealand every year by predators such as stoats, cats, rats and possums. Most of these introduced predators rely on smell to hunt. Landcare Research scientist Dr Grant Norbury hopes to use this instinct against them.

He plans to use generic bird scents, such as chicken or quail, in native bird habitat before they arrive to breed to encourage predators to investigate the smell yet receive no reward for their efforts.

“After several weeks, predators will lose interest in investigating the odour and we will have deceived them into thinking that bird odours are no longer a profitable cue for food,” Dr Norbury said.

“Naturally, once birds arrive to breed, predators will re-learn that bird odour can sometimes result in a reward. So, the idea is to give birds a window-of-opportunity to breed successfully before re-learning begins.”

The approach - referred to as “chemical camouflage” - has undergone preliminary tests by Australian scientist’s Dr Catherine Price and Dr Peter Banks, who will be collaborating with Dr Norbury on the research project. The Australian trial found a 60 per cent increase in the survival rate of nests over a short period.

Dr Norbury said native birds were at their most vulnerable when they were nesting.

“They’re essentially sitting ducks,” he said.

“Many of our birds have evolved behaviours that defend them from native avian predators, which hunt mostly by vision, but not from introduced mammals, which hunt mostly by smell. This has created a behavioural mismatch between the predators and vulnerable native species, and the results have been devastating.”

Dr Norbury said pen trials would begin early next month to establish how long it took predators to lose interest in the bird scent and how long that lasted. In the Australian study, rats lost interest in only three days.

“It’s important to realise that native species are mostly secondary prey for ferrets, cats and stoats. Their primary prey are often other introduced species like rabbits, rats or mice. This makes it easier to deflect predators’ attention away from native species for short periods,” he said.

He expected field trials to take place early next year in the Mackenzie Country. These would focus on whether the survival of braided river birds could be increased.

The two-year project was among 48 new research proposals recently granted $96.8 million by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. It was granted close to $1 million.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

NZTA: Major New Zealand Upgrade Programme Projects Go To Tender

Two major New Zealand Upgrade Programme projects are beginning tenders for construction. The New Zealand Upgrade Programme is a $6.8 billion investment to get our cities moving, to save lives and boost productivity in growth areas. The first Auckland ... More>>

Reserve Bank: RBNZ Seeks To Preserve Benefits Of Cash

The Reserve Bank – Te Pūtea Matua is taking on a new role of steward of the cash system “to preserve the benefits of cash for all who need them”, Assistant Governor Christian Hawkesby told the Royal Numismatics Society of New Zealand annual conference ... More>>

ALSO:

Economy: Double-Dip Recession Next Year, But Housing Rolls On

New Zealand's economy is expected to slip back into recession early next year as delayed job losses, falling consumer spending, and the absence of international tourists bites into growth. More>>

ALSO:

Microsoft New Zealand: Microsoft Expands “Highway To A Hundred Unicorns” Initiative To Support Startups In Asia Pacific

New Zealand, 14 October 2020 – Today Microsoft for Startups launches the Highway to a Hundred Unicorns initiative in Asia Pacific to strengthen the region’s startup ecosystem. This follows the initiative’s success in India, where 56 startups were ... More>>

Fonterra: Farmers Taking Another Step Towards New Zealand’s Low Emissions Food Production

They’re hot off the press and intended to help take the heat out of climate change. Fonterra farmers are already among the world’s most sustainable producers of milk and now have an additional tool in their sustainability toolbox. Over the last few ... More>>

ALSO:

Electricity: New Zealand Remains In Top 10 For Energy Balance

The World Energy Council’s Energy Trilemma Index has become part of the energy dialogue both globally and in New Zealand. The Index illustrates the need for countries to balance energy security, energy equity and environmental sustainability. New Zealand ... More>>

ALSO:


Courts: Businessman Eric Watson Sentenced To A Four-Month Jail Term

New Zealand businessman Eric Watson has been sentenced to a four-month jail term in the UK for contempt of court, TVNZ reports. More>>

OECD: Area Employment Rate Falls By 4.0 Percentage Points, To 64.6% In Second Quarter Of 2020

The OECD area employment rate – the share of the working-age population with jobs – fell by 4.0 percentage points, to 64.6%, in the second quarter of 2020, its lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2010. Across the OECD area, 560 million persons ... More>>

Spark: Turns On 5G In Auckland And Offers A Glimpse Into The Future Of Smart Cities

Spark turned on 5G in downtown Auckland today and has partnered with Auckland Transport (AT) to showcase some of the latest in IoT (Internet of Things) technology and demonstrate what the future could look like for Auckland’s CBD with the power of 5G. 5G is ... More>>

Stats NZ: Monthly Migration Remains Low

Since the border closed in late-March 2020, net migration has averaged about 300 a month, Stats NZ said today. In the five months from April to August 2020, overall net migration was provisionally estimated at 1,700. This was made up of a net gain ... More>>

University of Canterbury: Proglacial Lakes Are Accelerating Glacier Ice Loss

Lake Tasman, New Zealand | 2016 | Photo: Dr Jenna Sutherland Meltwater lakes that form at glacier margins cause ice to recede much further and faster compared to glaciers that terminate on land, according to a new study. But the effects of these glacial ... More>>

ALSO:

Dairy: Fonterra Sells China Farms

Fonterra has agreed to sell its China farms for a total of $555 million (RMB 2.5 billion*1), after successfully developing the farms alongside local partners. Inner Mongolia Natural Dairy Co., Ltd, a subsidiary of China Youran Dairy Group Limited ... More>>

ALSO: