Last week over 55 enthusiastic Abbotsford School students joined forces with Otago Museum, Orokonui Ecosanctuary and the University of Otago Zoology and Botany Departments to survey their school’s ‘native woodland area’ for invertebrates and their predators; a Participatory Science Platform Curious Minds grant 'If we build it, will peripatus come?'
The children and their grown-up helpers searched different habitats for invertebrate bugs by shaking bushes, sieving through soil, scanning leaf litter and examining large debris, counting the different invertebrate types found. A special tunnel containing ink pads left out overnight to identify the presence of any nocturnal predators detected footprints from a inquisitive resident hedgehog and mouse. Rounding out their survey data, the children identified and counted lots of different bird predators.
Back in the classroom to analyse their survey data, the children identified more than eleven different types of invertebrates, with spiders the most frequently found. At least twelve different predator bird species were identified, with blackbirds and robins most commonly observed.
Orokonui Ecosanctuary Educator Tahu MacKenzie enchanted us all when describing New Zealand’s amazing native fauna and the special role the ecosanctuary plays in protecting them from their introduced predators. The children did a fabulous job being a STRONG ‘fence of defence’ protecting Mrs T dressed up as a kiwi and Dr C dressed as a peripatus from the roaming predators on the other side. We certainly look forward to visiting Orokonui Ecosanctuary next year, seeing the marvelous fence, and experiencing the native wonders of the ecosanctuary ourselves.