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DOC-sponsored listing process has led to new threat rankings that are reported in eight peer-reviewed papers and two unpublished reports co-authored by DOC and Landcare Research staff.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