Rotopiko Lake Reserve Bioblitz

By Shonagh Lindsay - National Wetland Trust

The first-ever peat lake BioBlitz comes to Lake Rotopiko on Saturday 17th February when scientists and volunteers will explore the site with the public and hunt for as many different species of fauna, flora and fungi as they can find.

If you’ve ever wanted to be a natural scientist for a day, then don’t miss this exciting, fast-moving science marathon being held by the National Wetland Trust to celebrate World Wetlands Day.

You may get your hands a bit dirty and your feet wet hunting, but looking at your discoveries under the microscope, you’ll learn an extraordinary amount about the native and exotic species at home in and around Lake Rotopiko. The reserve is easy to get around – there are boardwalks and tracks that are also suitable for prams.

Lake Rotopiko, 20 minutes south of Hamilton, is the site of the planned National Wetland Centre with its predator-proof fence and habitat restoration creating a safe haven for native wildlife.

North Island fernbird, spotless crake, Australasian bittern and falcon have already made it their home, as have thousands of starlings and other exotic birds that now fly in at dusk – that’s an astonishing sight.

Rotopiko’s BioBlitz will document as many species as possible from inside the predator-proof fence - the visible and invisible, secretive and shy, common and more rare species - to discern the fence’s impact.

Volunteers are essential to a successful BioBlitz, so the organisers are asking people not to be shy in coming forward.

“There’ll be many interesting activities for volunteers including helping the scientists with species identification, logging what’s found into a database and liaising with the public,” says NWT executive Karen Denyer.   

She says it’s an opportunity for the NWT and its partner in the event, Manaaki Whenua -Landcare Research, to make natural science interesting and relevant for people by showing the vast array of species living within one of the region’s best preserved peat lakes and wetlands. It’s also the perfect opportunity to talk to scientists, and find out what they do and why.

“We know that an engaged and aware public is the key to making the future National Wetland Centre at Rotopiko viable and sustainable.”  

Bioblitz events first began in New Zealand around 2004 with at least 20 events held throughout the country so far.

Teams of specialist biologists such as botanists (plants), ornithologists (birds), mycologists (fungi) and entomologists (insects) usually search over a 24-hour period for every possible species they can find, including nocturnal creatures such as some insects and animal pests that are much easier to find during darkness. 

The Rotopiko BioBlitz is being gifted to the NWT by Dr Monica Peters who won it last year at the Bioblitz sponsored by Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research.

The event begins on Friday 16th February from 1pm to 7pm, with schools and the public warmly welcomed, and continues on Saturday 17th February from 9:30am to 3:30pm. Rotopiko Reserve is off SH3, about 3km south of Ohaupo with only a left-hand turn in and out of the reserve.

For more details, or to become a BioBlitz volunteer, contact enquiries@wetlandtrust.org.nz


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