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I propose to engage the Waikato community, iwi and school groups to undertake a series of arthropod biodiversity bioblitz's in significant natural ecosystems, using DNA barcoding to identify the community composition of species, their distributions, and recruitment occurring in the region. The key focus of this project is engagement. This project will engender a greater appreciation and association with the endemic biodiversity found in some of our stunning ecosystems. A part of this...

Nigel Binks
by Nigel Binks
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Nigel Binks
 

Nigel Binks

Hamilton, New Zealand

Joined this community on Sep 26, 2017

Bio Spiderguy Nigel Binks plans to investigate significant natural ecosystems over the summer to see whether riparian planting and restoration efforts have recruited native species associated with forest habitat. Nigel says, “Arthropods are a reflection of habitat quality in the riparian margin as well as the quality of the insects that spiders consume from the lakes.” He says freshwater ecosystems provide a diverse range of habitat and prey, and his research at Waikato University indicates that lake ecosystems host diverse arthropod communities ,including spiders. “Spiders are a focus because they play crucial roles in ecosystem food-webs and reflect habitat quality as well as the quality of prey in the environment,” Nigel says. He researches whole communities of spider and arthropod species and their distributions around fresh water habitats, using a modern DNA barcoding method. The physical appearance of arthropods can change over their lifetimes, so DNA allows them to be accurately identified which gives a true picture of species diversity. “There are so many types of arthropods that it's hard not to be curious,” he says. Of spider alone there are around 1,150 described species currently recorded in New Zealand, but experts estimate there could be more than 2,000 species. Of the ones identified, more than 93% are endemic and found only in New Zealand. The information he's gathered over the past four years has been used to instigate a national molecular database of New Zealand's spiders. The resulting DNA sequences contribute to the International Barcode of Life initiative (iBOL; www.ibol.org) which aims to assess the earth’s biodiversity during a time of unprecedented loss. Spiders are a key focus taxa because they are predominantly predatory and many species rely on catching flying insects during the daytime, dusk and dawn. Spiders also provide a crucial link in ecosystem food-webs, controlling insect numbers as well as being prey for many native birds, bats and reptiles. Nigel says many roaming foragers and most web building species of spiders tend to only come out at night, so the best way to collect a diverse range of spiders is to sample using a variety of collection methods during both the daytime and at night. This includes suctioning, hand collection and vegetation sampling methods. In the near future Nigel hopes to involve the broader Waikato community in gathering specimens and in education by implementing a series of bioblitz's. This would engender a greater understanding and appreciation of the little-known biodiversity of the Waikato.

What is your interest in conservation?
agency representative

How did you hear about the Conservation Innovation Awards?
word of mouth

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submit my own idea

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