The Taranaki Conservationists, in partnership with MAIN Trust, scientists, and coastal communities, embarked on an epic participatory science project called Dotterel Defenders with funding from Curious Minds in 2017!
The aim of the project was to use participatory science to investigate threats to New Zealand dotterel in Taranaki, and use this research to implement measures to better protect dotterel and other threatened coastal species.
The project trained volunteers and ran field investigations at four key dotterel locations along the Taranaki coastline. Despite the wintery weather, the training and field events had strong participation from coastal communities. Participants undertook beach cleans (>250 kg of rubbish collected), litter surveys and used NatureWatch NZ to record footprints and species encountered.
On-going monitoring has included recording the behaviour of the dotterels (142 sightings), monitoring predators (sandy footprint and tracking tunnel monitoring), monitoring vehicle use on beaches and predator trapping (catches include 12 stoats and weasels, 6 hedgehogs and 3 rats in 60 traps).
Based on the information gained from monitoring, measures have been implemented to better protect the dotterels including roping off nesting areas and setting up predator trapping rosters. Students from Rahotu and Coastal Taranaki Schools have made signs to raise awareness of the dotterels and the threats to them.
Volunteers are continuing predator trapping and monitoring dotterels throughout the breeding season, including monitoring the success of chicks so that breeding productivity can be assessed.
Keen to get involved? Find out what we have been up to over on the blog, and Check out the Dotterel Defenders Facebook page!