A century of urbanisation and industrialisation has resulted in severely degraded environments and significant loss of native biodiversity within the catchment. However, the Whau River catchment still retains many remnants of indigenous vegetation in a range of freshwater, marine, intertidal and coastal, lowland, riparian and urban forest and garden habitats. Such habitats provide a refuge and their unique biota is especially precious within such close proximity to New Zealand’s biggest city.
These habitats are particularly vulnerable in an environment heavily modified by people and introduced species. Since the year 2000, the Whau River Catchment Trust (formerly Friends of the Whau Inc) has been harnessing the passion and energy of volunteers to help protect and restore biodiversity throughout the catchment.
The Great Whau Biodiversity Survey on www.iNaturalist.nz (iNaturalistNZ) is part of our wider Te Whau Citizen Science Environmental and Biodiversity Monitoring Programme. We are recording all fauna and flora, large or small, indigenous or introduced - yes even animal and plant (weed) pests. Citizen Science provides new levels of collaboration and new opportunities for non-experts to contribute directly to science and future decision making.
What is ‘Biodiversity’?
Biodiversity is defined as “the variability among living organisms from all sources including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.” This can be quantified most easily with species richness, or the number of different species in a given habitat.
Why is it important?
Different species fulfill important functions within the ecosystem. For example, they may be photosynthesizers, decomposers, herbivores, carnivores or pollinators. Ecosystems with more than one species to fulfill a given function are more resilient than ecosystems with less species. In other words, the ecosystem is able to respond to disturbances such as disease or fire without collapsing. This apparent redundancy of functional 'roles' is a very effective insurance, for if one species succumbs to a disease, its “function” in the ecosystem is taken over by another species. Ecosystems with limited diversity, including monocultures (areas entirely dominated by a single species, as in most agricultural crops), are much more prone to disease than diverse natural systems.
Why is monitoring biodiversity important?
Evidential biodiversity and environmental monitoring data, combined with ecological knowledge, plays a direct role in informing our ecological restoration activities. Evidence of the ecological associations between plants and animal species are key to effective habitat creation. For example, we know that Kererū are essential for native bush regeneration, their distribution have huge implications for the seed dispersal of both native and introduced plants in urban environments and for our native forests.
How can I join a Biodiversity Survey?
We run Biodiversity Surveys for each season of the year. Check out our events to find out when the next survey begins and read the guide below!
You can use your Mobile Phone OR use a traditional good quality camera to record your observations Note: Read the following information first http://inaturalist.nz/pages/mobile_apps_nz
Also check out the results of our one-day Te Whau BioBlitz using the inaturalist app which was held at Kurt Brehmer Walkway in July 2015.
Biodiversity Survey 'How to guide'
Search for the app 'iNaturalist' in your app store
Download and install
Log in using Facebook or an e-mail account. You can use this same login for both the iNaturalist website or the NZ Version iNaturalist.NZ
Click the 'plus' to add an observation
Take a photo of the plant/animal/fungi
If you are taking pictures with a camera or without internet connection, you can always upload the pictures at a later time
Try and identify the species.
iNaturalist will provide you hints.
But don't worry if you can't identify it!
Leave it blank, the iNaturalist.NZ community will help identify it for you
Join a Project such as the Whau Autumn Survey 2019 to track results and see who is in the lead for the most observations!
We will be doing surveys periodically so ask us for the name of the current survey and join us now!