Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Ahi Pepe | MothNet: making moth-lovers of the masses

Barbara Anderson is passionate about moths.

Over 2,000 species of moths and butterflies in New Zealand play an important role in the ecosystem, as pollinators and food for our native birds, insects, spiders and reptiles. They are often underappreciated, but thanks to Barbara and her team many others now better understand their value. Through the project Ahi Pepe | MothNet, a citizen science endeavour, the team aims to raise public appreciation of moths and explore their potential to act as ecological indicators of the health of our natural world.

To make moth-lovers of the masses, the team has provided teachers, students and whānau with the skills, tools and connections to run a nationally significant scientific experiment, including internationally recognised moth-monitoring techniques, to evaluate the effectiveness of vegetation restoration in restoring ecosystem function.

And they do it by making moths fun.

Ahi Pepe | MothNet started in the Otago region and will be rolled out in the North Island in 2018. It has its own community radio show, an excellent series of guides, and 14 schools engaged in monitoring moths. Barbara’s collaborators include Orokonui Eco-sanctuary, Ngāi Tahu, the Geography Department, Te Tumu (University of Otago), Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ōtepoti, and the Otago Museum.

Barbara said, ‘Making citizen scientists of New Zealanders is deeply satisfying but also really important science.’