Research investigating the potential indicators of ecological restoration success at the PCRP was undertaken over two years (2011-2012). Comprehensive floral and faunal inventories and monitoring were used to determine characteristics of forest and disturbed environments at the species and community level, with a focus on the transition of these characteristics during restoration. Pedology and soil chemical analysis was completed to describe the site template and to identify variables that may influence the restoration of floral and faunal communities at the site. A comprehensive report was published by Lincoln University in 2012 and is available here.
5. Ecosystem services of birds – seed dispersal through the PCRP site
A series of bird perches were set up in the restoration plantings of the PCRP over last summer and have been monitored by Ecology student Ross Carter-Brown. The seed rain produced by berry-eating birds will be collected and analysed for a year and a half. Ross starts his Honours in the second semester of 2014 at Lincoln University and during this time he will analyse the diversity seed species from beneath the roosts. His work will also determine how much of a role artificial roosts can play in manipulating seed-carrying birds to sites to disperse seeds and help regeneration. Ross will also calculate how much of the seed deposited on the ground is eaten by rodents and other species.
6. Diversity and functional role of endemic earthworms
New Zealand has more than 200 endemic earthworm species described and many putative new species yet to be described. It has been reported that endemic earthworm communities disappeared quickly after the introduction of exotic grassland and crops mainly because of environmental changes. However, little is known about the functional role of New Zealand native earthworms and potential competition with exotic (European) earthworms.
The PhD project of Young Nam Kim is focusing on native earthworm species from the PCRP site. His research is aiming at investigating the significance, diversity and functional role of endemic earthworms in native ecosystems.
7. How soil, litter and rhizosphere influence restoration
Tao Zhong is a Lincoln University PhD student interested in the influence of soil, litter and rhizosphere interactions on the restoration trajectory at Punakaiki. As part of this work, pedology and soil chemical analysis are completed at PCRP to identify potential variables that may influence the restoration of floral and faunal communities at the site.
Four different soil series were described across the site: Karoro, Kamaka, Kamaka (shallow variant) and Waiwero. Interpretation of soil data at the site is complex and somewhat confounded by the overlay of the four soil series with historic usage of the site.
A soil chemical response is apparent after the first five years of restoration. Multivariate analysis of soil physic-chemical data allowed separation of the three treatments (Mature, Restored and Unplanted sites) with Key chemical variables including C/N ratios, P, Zn, K, S, Mn and Mg.
8. Penguins conservation
A significant population of little blue penguins nests in the PCRP area. Up to 50 individuals were spotted in 2012 by a Lincoln University student working on the restoration area. Little blue penguins have declined since 1960 and remain threatened by mammalian predators, coastal development and traffic. The newly proposed Punakaiki Marine Reserve is good news for the penguins, however, mammalian predators (including dogs) are a serious threat.
As part of the PCRP, we want to raise the profile of Punakaiki penguins, involve local communities particularly local schools in the conservation of little blue penguins, and collect scientific data about the population of little blue penguins nesting at Punakaiki. This study is funded by the Brian Mason Scientific and Technical Trust.
(Summer scholarship currently available to work on this project)
9. Predator control
The presence of mammalian predators on the site has been monitored using tracking tunnels. These simple plastic tunnels are lined with a white cardboard coated with ink and allow the detection of animal by identifying the ink tracks left by animals walking through the tunnel. At PCRP, tracking tunnels revealed that mice were widespread throughout mature, restored and unplanted habitats, but the presence of rats was exclusive to mature vegetation. These predators can be damaging to native small birds, penguins, wetas and other invertebrates. They can also attack Petrels who occasionally land on the site.
10. Future projects
A number of future exciting research projects are under development. We are currently looking for funding and potential students to undertake these projects. If you are interested or able to help, please contact us (email@example.com).
Boyer S., Kim Y., Bowie M.H., Dickinson N.M., Hahner J. (2014) Rapid response of earthworm communities to above-ground restoration. Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia Meeting (SERA) in Nouméa, New Caledonia. Accepted oral communication.
Boyer S., Abbott M., Bowie M.H.,Dickinson N.M., Hahner J. Rohdes S.H., Sharp D., Smith C.M.,(2014) The Punakaiki Living Lab a case study for a consultative and multidisciplinary approach in restoring a mining closure site, West Coast, New Zealand. Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia Meeting (SERA) in Nouméa, New Caledonia. Accepted oral communication
Smith C.M., ,Dickinson N.M., Boyer S., Bowie M.H., Hahner J. Rohdes S.H., Sharp D. (2014) Punakaiki Coastal Restoration Project: a case study for a consultative and multidisciplinary approach in selecting indicators of restoration success for a sands mining closure site, West Coast, New Zealand. 20th World Congress on Soil Science (WCSS), Jeju, Korea. Oral communication
Hahner J.L., Bowie M.H., Dickinson N.M., Smith C., Boyer S., Chassagneux A., Segrestin J., Carter-Brown R., Zhong H., Mountier C. (2013) Development and testing indicators of restoration success: Punakaiki coastal restoration project. Eds. Jason Hahner and Mike Bowie. Lincoln University Wildlife Management Report No. 52. ISBN: 978-0-86476-323-5
Rhodes, K. Lorenzon, J.L. Hahner, M.H. Bowie, S. Boyer, N. Dickinson, C. Smith, D. Sharp (2013) Punakaiki Coastal Restoration Project: A Partnership for Closure and Restoration of a Mineral Sands Project Site in New Zealand. Mine Closure 2013. Eds. M. Tibbett, A.B. Fourie and C. Digby. Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, ISBN 978-0-9870937-4-5. pp. 447-463.
Bowie M.H., Mountier C., Boyer S., Dickinson N.M. (2012) Baseline Survey for the Punakaiki Coastal Restoration Project. Publisher: Lincoln University. Prepared for RioTinto Services Limited Editor: Jason Hahner and Mike Bowie, ISBN: 978-0-86476-286-3.