Monday, April 22, 2024

DOC scholarship to boost biodiversity tech potential

New technology and data analysis projects stand out in this year’s successful DOC scholarship applications, reinforcing their potential to supercharge the monitoring and restoration of Aotearoa New Zealand’s biodiversity, the Department said today.

Eight students have been awarded $15,000 DOC Post-graduate Scholarships in the fourth scholarship funding round since the programme began in 2020.

DOC Chief Science Advisor, Michael Bunce says he was delighted to see the diversity of conservation science coming out of the Masters scholarships each year.

“There’s never a shortage of excellent graduate research projects to consider. It was a tough job, narrowing the field down to eight. This year we were particularly on the lookout for projects that aligned with our long-term insights briefing which focused on harnessing the power of emerging technology in conservation,” he said.

“Research projects with a hi-tech focus include eDNA (analysis of DNA found in the environment) projects on lizards and sea sponges, and remote sensing, (such as the use of satellite technology) of subantarctic toroa/albatross species.

“As evidence increases on the importance of wetland health, it’s significant that one of the DOC scholarship projects focuses on examining the fungal diversity in wetland forests by bridging mātauranga Māori and ecological restoration.

“Together with our partners at the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Environmental Protection Agency, I extend my congratulations to the eight successful applicants and look forward to seeing how their research can assist with conservation across Aotearoa.”

DOC has funded six of the scholarships and partnered with Tiakina Kauri– the Kauri Protection Agency within Biosecurity New Zealand, and the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) who funded one additional scholarship each.  

DOC Postgraduate Scholarship 2023 recipients are: 

Name University Research topic 
Sarah Bishop Tiakina Kauri recipientAuckland University of TechnologyCollaboratively developing cultural indicators for environmental forest health monitoring in Te Wao Nui ā Tiriwā
Tere Porter-Rawiri Environmental Protection Authority recipientTe Herenga Waka – Victoria University of WellingtonUnravelling fungal diversity in wetland forests: Bridging mātauranga Māori and ecological restoration
Nakita DanielUniversity of OtagoWhiria te tāngata; whiria te mātauranga, arriving at Mōhiotanga: Developing a monitoring framework for the Noises Island High Protection Area (HPA)
Ella DewarUniversity of OtagoUnder-appreciated and over-looked: Mapping the identity, diversity and eDNA context of New Zealand’s freshwater sponges.
Cassie MealayUniversity of OtagoProof of Concept – Can terrestrial eDNA detect Lizards in a New Zealand landscape?
Natalie TaufaUniversity of WaikatoEcological interactions between the sub-tropical urchin Centrostephanus rodgersi, the native Evechinus chloroticus and possible implications on rocky reef ecosystems.
Oscar ThomasUniversity of OtagoMovement ecology and plumage variation of the critically endangered tūturiwhatu/southern New Zealand dotterel.
Theo ThompsonUniversity of OtagoModelling breeding success and enhancing our remote sensing ability for four subantarctic toroa species.

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