Thursday, 24 March 2016

Peripatus Found!!

Yesterday, we set out into the bush to finally survey the first peripatus quadrat I prepared a few weeks ago (check out my previous post). We searched for about 3 hours sitting in the damp leaf litter. Our muscles were beginning to cramp and our joints were seizing. We'd found lots of interesting looking insects and fungi, but no peripati! 
Audrey and I searching
Can anyone identify this crazy spider?

getting excited about a worm

Beautiful fungus

Just as we were about to give up and go home Fiona let out a squeal. Deep inside a log, she'd found our first peripatus. We decided to keep searching for longer, then I found another. There was no mistaking his velvet body and stumpy legs, as he scurried away deeper into a hole in the log. 

My peripatus

Fiona's peripatus

We carefully placed the peripati into a container and took them back to the office for closer observation, then retuned them once we had finished studying them. We think the two peripati we found are two different species!

We think this guy belongs to the species 
Peripatoides Novaezealandiae 

And we think this guy is a Peripatoides suteri

Monday, 14 March 2016

Peripatus Planning

Peripatus, also known as the velvet worm, is an invertebrate that has remained unchanged for over 500 million years. They are often referred to as a living fossil, and look like a worm with legs. There are up to 30 New Zelaland species, however currently only 9 have been named! Very little is known about the peripatus, but we do know they come out at night, they usually have between 13 to 16 pairs of stumpy legs on a worm-like body, and they spit goo to capture their prey. Most species are also ovoviviparous, which means the female stores the eggs, and gives birth to live young, The exciting thing is, one species of peripatus is known to be at Rotokare.

During my time at Rotokare, I will be implementing peripatus monitoring across the sanctuary. By surveying a variety of bush types, terrain types, and orientations, we hope to gain an understanding of the preferred habitat of the the peripatus, and gain an understanding of the total population and species present at Rotokare. This will involve mapping out quadrats around the sanctuary, then orgainsing groups of volunteers to search them. The quadrats will be kept to 5x5m, and any peripatus will be returned if found. 

Have you ever found a peripatus?

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Learning about Leadership in Dunedin

Wow- I've just returned from a full on but amazing week in Dunedin! The purpose of the week was to learn about leadership, and how to lead science in our school when we return. I went down a couple of days early to spend some time gaining some more science experience- in a cancer research lab! Here I spent time learning about the methods and protocols used for cancer research, and compared treated and untreated cancer cells under the microscope. Did you know that 3 different cell lines account for 2/3 of all cells used for breast cancer research? The cancer cells I was looking at came from the MCF-7 Line, from a 69 year old nun named Frances Mallon, who died in 1970. Her cells are the source of most of  the current knowledge about breast cancer. 

The course was based around the book called "The leadership Challenge" by Kouzes and Posner. We also received anonymous feedback from out colleagues at school about the leadership skills we demonstrate, and we found out about about our Myers- Briggs personality type, and our strengths and weaknesses. 
The book says there are 5 key steps to becoming a great leader.
During the course we learned about each dimension in detail. These are modelling the way, inspiring a shared vision, challenging the process, enabling others to act and encouraging the heart. We also had to give a speech at the start of the week, and the end of the week. It was amazing to see how much everyone changed and became so much more confident during the week.

On Wednesday night, we took some time out from our full on week to explore the sights of Dunedin, in Classic Jaguars! We saw the beatiful view over Dunedin from Signal Hill, ran up Baldwin Street; the steepest street in the word (the hill climbing at Rotokare is paying off!), and visited the majestic train station, before a delicious Italian meal. 

I left the course feeling inspired, and I felt I learned so much about myself, and how I can maximise my strengths and work on my weaknesses. I can't wait to lead science at Auroa School. 

Thursday, 3 March 2016


As part of the Science Teaching Leadership Programme, I get to spend some time at the Royal Society of New Zealand in Wellington learning about how to improve they way science is taught. On the programme we have secondary teachers and primary teachers, which makes it really interesting getting to see a different perspective than I'm used to. 
Last week I headed down a day early to visit the Zelandia Sanctuary in Karori. Zelandia is a similar size to Rotokare, but has been established for longer. Like Rotokare, Zelandia is surrounded by a pest proof fence. Due to an earlier fence design with wider mesh, Zelandia does however have some mice present. 
Jo, another teacher participant, is being hosted by Zealandia, so it was wonderful to have the opportunity to compare her experience with mine. 
Kaka at Zealandia. The kaka like to use the paths as roads to fly down. We had to duck a few times to avoid them.

A hihi feeder. Rotokare is investigating reintroducing hihi in the near future, but a lot of research needs to be carried out first. This includes finding out the the sustainability for for the stock population, and tracking and monitoring within the reserve to insure the population is likely to survive. Hihi are very rare, and can only be found on 3 island sanctuaries, and 2 locations in the North Island (Zelandia is one of these). 

Looking over the sanctuary.

A tuatara. Rotokare hope to reintroduce tuatara one day!
My first ever time meeting a takahe.