Real-time Pisa snow depth


A new sensor giving researchers real-time data about snow depth in the Pisa Range went live in August 2019 - SnOtago Be sure to check out the fly by, to soar like a bird over the West Coast. 

Contact Pascal Sirguey and Todd Redpath for further information.

Recent news related to their research was also reported - late-snowfall-unlikely-be-trend-short-term ODT & Climate change not main culprit for Queenstown's bad snow years NZHERALD 

Peripatus Schools at WILD Dunedin 2019

The grand finale and public unveiling of the Peripatus Schools Project flyers happened at the WILD Dunedin 2019 Making A Change Expo held in Dunedin during the April school holidays. Children from all three partner schools chatted with folks about their work, showed their artwork, demonstrated how to do bug surveys at home and handed out their ‘How to bug build friendly hotels’ flyers. It was a great event attended by an estimated 900 people!

Find the three school flyers here

Curing growth: A 12-step programme | Professor Robert Costanza, ANU

Prof Robert Costanza’s systems thinking approach demands we take many more factors into account when measuring progress and sustainability. IMAGE: GETTY IMAGES; courtesy ODT

Prof Robert Costanza’s systems thinking approach demands we take many more factors into account when measuring progress and sustainability. IMAGE: GETTY IMAGES; courtesy ODT

Professor Robert Costanza, the Vice-Chancellor’s Chair in Public Policy at the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University, recently visited New Zealand to work specifically with Catchments Otago and the Environment Southland Regional Council. While visiting, he gave talks in Invercargill and Dunedin about Treating Our Societal Addiction to Growth (video) and Valuing and Managing Marine and Coastal Ecosystem Services (video). He led a Solutions-focussed workshop with Environment Southland and Catchments Otago researchers considering the current round of Regional Forums in Southland and spoke with Tom McKinlay from the Otago Daily Times about needing to think like an addict and talk about what we value.

Public talk - Treating our societal addiction to growth

World renowned Ecological Economist Professor Robert Costanza from the Australian National University will give a public talk about societal addiction to growth and how therapies successful for treating individual’s addictions can be utilised to help build positive sustainable futures for communities.

Professor Costanza’a transdisciplinary research integrates the study of humans and the rest of nature to address research, policy and management issues at multiple time and space scales, from small watersheds to the global system. 

Catchments Otago looks forward to welcoming Professor Costanza to Dunedin and warmly invites members of the public to attend this free event.

Wednesday 10th April, 6pm. St Davids Lecture Theatre, University of Otago, Dunedin


Societies, like individuals, can become addicted to patterns of detrimental and unsustainable behaviour. We can learn from successful therapies at the individual scale, like motivational interviewing, which engages addicts in a positive discussion of their goals, motives, and futures. One analogy at the societal level is community engaged scenario planning; engaging entire communities in building consensus about preferred alternative futures. Effective therapies are possible, but require a re-balancing of efforts.

Spring sunshine and chickens at Green Island School

Rooms 5 & 6 made the most of the sunny spring weather to investigate what birds and invertebrates live on their school grounds. Spreading out across the whole school the children and their grown up helpers found a diverse range of invertebrates including spiders, worms, beetles, and larvae getting ready to launch into spring. A tracking tunnel baited with peanut butter overnight and hidden in the native garden near Fresh Choice detected an itty-bitty hungry mouse.

A wide array of birds were observed by the children including a species not typically seen at schools; chickens. While we won’t include them in our analysis of birds feeding on invertebrates across school grounds, they live on the farm next door and can’t get through the fence, it was fun to count them in our bird surveys.

Back in the classroom we tallied our survey data all together and started analysing the data with help from the University of Otago and Otago Museum to see what it was telling us. From our data we could make statements like ‘over 17 different types of invertebrates were found to live at school’ and ‘sparrows and blackbirds were the most frequently observed birds during our survey’.

Tahu from Orokonui Ecosanctuary visited and outside in the spring sunshine we learned about what makes an animal a ‘New Zealand native’, what predators they need protecting from and how the ecosanctuary protects them. We dressed up two of our adults as a kiwi and a peripatus, made a strong ‘fence of defence’ and protected them from Tahu who roamed around on the outside as a possum trying to break through. It will be interesting to see the fence for ourselves next year when we visit Tahu at Orokonui. Before then, we will repeat our surveys at Woodhaugh Gardens in Term 4 and see how the data looks compared to the school surveys.

Many thanks to the grown ups for their help with the school surveys and we look forward to more grown ups supporting us with the next step in our peripatus schools journey.


Open Lecture: Water law in the US - Challenges and Solutions

HUM-TP0012-A4 Poster Open Lecture Law-Catchments 0818_WEB.jpg

The Faculty of Law and Catchments Otago present an Open Lecture

Water law in the US: Challenges and Solutions for the Anthropocene

Professor Robin Craig, William Evans Visiting Fellow

  • Tuesday, October 16, 2018, 5:30 PM  6:30 PM, Moot Court, Richardson Building (10th Floor)

The US faces many legal and challenges regarding watershed management in the Anthropocene. Professor Craig will give some background on the basic divisions in the US between water quality law and water allocation law, jurisdictional fragmentation, and discuss the ways that have emerged tobridge some of those difficulties, drawing from her work both on water compacts and adaptive watergovernance.

Refreshments to follow. 

Robin Craig is the James I. Farr Presidential Endowed Professor of Law, at the University of Utah S.J.Quinney College of Law and affiliated to the faculty of the Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources, and the Environment and the Global Change and Sustainability Center. She serves on the Executive Board of the University of Utah’s Water Center. Professor Craig specializes in all things water, including climate change and water; the food-water-energy nexus; water quality and water allocation law; and marine protected areas and marine spatial planning.

The Williams Evans fund of the University of Otago was established in 1946 under the will of the late Dr Williams Evans, who directed that a trust fund be established for the promotion and encouragement of learning.

St Francis Xavier survey school grounds

It was a busy week with 79 St Francis Xavier School student scientists and their grown-up helpers searching the school grounds for resident invertebrates and their predators. Shaking bushes, sieving through soil, investigating pitfall traps, and scanning through bark and leaf litter the children found at least 13 different types of invertebrates.

Back in the classroom to analyse their survey data, the children discovered that while not many invertebrates in total had been observed in their surveys, spiders were found most frequently. Otago Museum educators Sam and Sof encouraged the children to think about the amount of available green space for invertebrate habitats on the school grounds and if this could have contributed to the low total invertebrate numbers being observed?  University of Otago researcher Yolanda chatted with the teachers about what improvements could possibly be made, given her work to improve urban biodiversity and children’s connection with nature in urban areas for improved wellbeing.

While the tracking tunnel containing ink pads and baited with peanut butter failed to detect any nocturnal ground-dwelling predators, the children did identify and count lots of different bird predators. Orokonui Ecosanctuary educators Tahu and Taylor enchanted the children with stories about New Zealand’s amazing native fauna and the special role the ecosanctuary plays in protecting them from their introduced predators. The children loved their teachers Miss H and Mrs R dressing up as a kiwi and a peripatus, creating a STRONG ‘fence of defence’ to protect them from roaming predators on the other side. Visiting Orokonui Ecosanctuary next year to see the fence and experience our native species will be very exciting. In the meantime, the children have been busy  writing stories about peripatus, creating amazing artwork and investigating facts about this intriguing species.

Many thanks to the wonderful St Francis Xavier School grown-up volunteers, University of Otago graduate students James and Charlotte, and Otago Museum educators Kate, Emily and Kallia for helping with the project. 

You can follow news about our PSP Curious Minds project "If we build it, will peripatus come?" on Facebook or via Twitter