The school has continued to take a great interest in the Friends of Puketoki project and be inspired by the stories of volunteers during their annual field trip to monitor pests and survey native birds (and hunt for all the weird and wonderful they can find during their excursion). Students also use the school grounds to investigate nature in the own ‘backyard’ by participating in Forest & Bird/Landcare Research Garden Bird Survey
- Upgrading lizard habitat and setting up an insect habitat structure
- Planting native trees in school bush area, started as a Wild project in 2003
- Doing wildlife searches in the school grounds
Small Animal and Possum Monitoring
As an initial baseline survey, Year 5/6s and teacher Wayne Steele took part in small animal and possum monitoring in late June. 6 trackers were positioned, baited ink cards laid and the cards brought back in the next day. 10 possum waxtag detectors were also nailed to 10 trees surrounding the site. These were left out for one week. The results showed one rodent print and four waxtags having possum bite marks – indicating a moderate possum presence. There was also plenty of possum poo to be found on the forest floor.
Recently four possum traps have been installed. Demonstrated by Colin Hewens of nearby Friends of Puketoki Reserve, the students saw up close how, where and why possum trapping is done. The traps are maintained by the Brunings with positive results happening so far – on average a possum per day!
The type and abundance of insects is a great indicator of forest health. It is estimated that in a native bush area after pest-control is undertaken, the population of insects can increase by 500% ! Insects are an important part of the food web and are readily consumed by pests like possums and rodents. In August students laid out four pitfall traps to capture and measure the forest insects. They also took part in a forest litter exercise. Three weeks later the students returned to the site and each group gathered in their samples. Baseline results are currently being counted and identified by the students.
Water Quality Monitoring
In conjunction with World Water Monitoring Day (WWMD) Year 5-8 students took part in water quality surveying in the local Whakamarama Stream. WWMD aims to have people globally testing water quality and hope for 1 million participants in 100 countries. Student results are sent to the USA where the data is collated in a global review.
In groups, the students tested four main parameters: Water temperature, pH (acidity), turbidity (clarity) and dissolved oxygen. Average results:
|Average Test Results||Comments|
|Water temperature 15C||Good, if water temperature exceeds 25C it causes major distress to our native fish and animal|
|pH 6.5||Very good, perfect for a NZ stream.|
|Turbidity 105cm||Very good, very clear water with little sediment. Sediment affects fish respiration and reduces plant photosynthesis|
|Dissolved Oxygen 15ppm (100%)||Excellent, maximum DO recorded. Animals and plants require at least 80% DO.|
In summary the students discovered their stream to be in very good health. A further macroinvertebrate survey is planned for the future to provide another means of water quality testing.