University of Canterbury Summer Course - Practical Field Botany

Venue: Cass Mountain Research Area, Canterbury

Dates: 7-15 January 2014

Practical Field Botany (BIOL305) is an intensive, short summer course designed to meet the need for training in the collection, preparation, and identification of botanical specimens. This course will be valuable for students who intend to seek employment in areas such as field ecology, conservation, biodiversity, and taxonomy or biosystematics. It will also be of interest to members of the workforce who need to acquire or upgrade taxonomic skills, e.g., from Crown Research Institutes, Department of Conservation, Local and Regional Councils, Botanic Gardens, horticulture, and teaching.

The course is targeted at participants with various entry levels: from students with a limited plant knowledge to experienced career professionals.

Goals of the course:

To enable participants to:

•become familiar with the common plants of the Cass and surrounding areas quickly,
•identify and name plants correctly and accurately,
•maximise usefulness and minimise environmental impact when collecting specimens,
•prepare high quality voucher specimens of plants,
•use scientific names to access detailed information about New Zealand plants,
•understand the patterns of variation within populations,
•appreciate unique and unusual aspects of the New Zealand flora.

See NZES educational events page for more information on the course.

The New Zealand Journal of Ecology announces a mentoring scheme for new reviewers

Recently, the New Zealand Journal of Ecology announced a trial of a mentoring scheme for new reviewers (Curran et al. 2013).

Early-career ecologists will be paired with an established scientist (for example, but not necessarily, their supervisor) to provide reviewing teams for manuscripts submitted to the New Zealand Journal of Ecology (NZJE). The early-career researcher and their mentor would each review the paper separately, discuss it and then submit a joint review. That way the student begins to build experience, but the quality of the review is ensured by the mentor. When the early-career ecologist and the mentor feel the new reviewer is ready, the student can then begin to review papers on his/her own.

We would also very much like to hear from experienced scientists keen to mentor inexperienced reviewers, as well as more experienced early-career researchers, who have published their own papers and would like to review for NZJE, but are not widely known to the New Zealand ecological community.

Reviewers’ information will be entered into a database and considered by the NZJE Editorial Board when reviewers are being approached to assess a manuscript.

Sign up as a team or individually! To sign up as a team, or individual mentor or (in)experienced reviewer, please fill out the form in the following file (NZJE_MentorReviewingScheme_Signup.xlsx), save it to your computer and send it as an attachment to [email protected].

If you have trouble with accessing the above file and/or the formatting of the form, please try filling out the form in the older *.xls file format (NZJE_MentorReviewingScheme_Signup.xls) instead.

For more information please visit for more information about the reviewer mentoring scheme that we have just launched.

NZFSS and NZMSS released a media statement from their conference last week which focuses on estuaries

New Zealand Freshwater Sciences Society and New Zealand Marine Sciences Society – Key closing messages:

Estuaries in New Zealand are under threat from excessive levels of sediments and nutrients from urban and intensively-farmed agricultural areas. The New Zealand Freshwater Sciences Society (NZFSS) and the New Zealand Marine Sciences Society (NZMSS) have made a collective statement about the pressures on New Zealand’s 300 estuaries. They have made recommendations to reduce the risks and impacts from eutrophication, sedimentation and invasive species. Estuaries are important: they are nurseries for fish, they filter out contaminants and are a ‘hot spot’ for wildlife and ecosystem services.

The societies recommend that: (1) Research be better coordinated among freshwater and marine scientists so that estuaries do not “fall between the cracks”. (2) Radical improvements be made to reduce sediment and nutrient loads to estuaries, particularly from areas of intensive lowland agriculture but also for urban areas. (3) The government speed up the implementation of a National Objectives Framework for freshwater management, and adopt all of the recommendations arising from the third report of the Land & Water Forum, (4) Estuaries be included in the National Objectives Framework. (5) Improved and comprehensive biosecurity plans are made to reduce risks of invasion and establishment of exotic species that could severely degrade estuarine health. NZFSS and NZMSS are urging the government to act with decisiveness and urgency so that New Zealand’s international environmental reputation is not eroded by the state of its estuarine ecosystems.

For more information read the full media statement.

NZES endorses "Wise Response" appeal

16 June 2013

Wise Response is an appeal to politicians to confront the critical risks facing New Zealand, its environment and way of life. The Wise Response appeal calls for a cross-party approach to deal with the risks caused by human-induced climate change, oil constraints and the failure to protect ecosystems. The NZES has endorsed the Wise Response appeal in the following statement:

"Members of the New Zealand Ecological Society are only too aware of the on-going environmental degradation that threatens our ecological security, and hence social and economic well-being. Evidence of this degradation is presented regularly in our publications and annual conference. Addressing threats to our security is imperative to maintain our collective well-being, and we unreservedly support the drive for a holistic risk assessment of New Zealand as proposed by the “Wise Response” appeal".

To sign the appeal or learn more about Wise Response visit:


NZES submission on the proposed changes to the Resource Management Act

Read the NZES submission on the proposed changes to the RMA (31 March 2013). There is no public hearing on the proposed changes to the RMA.

NZES Submission Improving Resource Management March2013.pdf


NZES Strategic Plan

Council recently completed Five Year Strategic Plan for the New Zealand Ecological Society. Council identified three key areas of activity required to meet the Society’s core objectives: Membership benefits, engagement and communication, and governance. The plan identifies specific actions within the three key areas of activity that are required to ensure the NZES is operating in a manner consistent with its purpose and meeting its objectives. The strategy will provide a road map for the next five years that can be passed from the present NZES Council to future councils. The document can also serve as a work plan to help keep progress on track and justify expenditure that it is clearly in line with the strategic direction and/or has been planned for. It is a living document and will be updated as required. The strategic plan will operate in conjunction with the NZES Science Communication Strategy 2007-2017. 

NZES Science Communication Strategy

"Communicating the results of scientific research by NZES members and their peers is essential to ensure the application of [that] ecological knowledge". Read our Science Communications Strategy 2007-2017 online now to see how we as ecologists, can contribute towards communicating, promoting and raising awareness of ecological research, values and understanding.

Lincoln NZES conference 2012

The last NZES annual conference held in Lincoln during the last week in November 2012 was a huge success. For more information visit the conference webpage:


“Politicians and lobbyists wrong to question national biodiversity crisis” says NZ Ecological Society

The NZ Ecological Society at its annual conference at Lincoln University this week confirmed Dr Mike Joy’s assessment of the state of New Zealand’s environment.

While the landscape may look green, the state of New Zealand’s environment is in anything but a good state. And the countries indigenous biodiversity is in a critical state. Practically all indicators show that New Zealand’s environment is in a steady state of decline as a result of human modification, the impact of invasive species and environmental change such as climate change. The condition of the majority of New Zealand’s waterways has deteriorated, the number of threatened native species continues to rise and the ecological condition of a large proportion of New Zealand’s forests, dunes and wetlands is known to be deteriorating.

“Politicians are entitled to their opinion but the evidence is compelling about the state of New Zealand’s environment” says Mel Galbraith, NZES President. “New Zealand’s ecological scientists provide the research to describe and explain what is occurring in New Zealand’s ecosystems and waterways” he says.

What they have discovered, and presented at this weeks national ecological conference at Lincoln University, highlights major problems ahead for the New Zealand environment especially indigenous ecosystems.

“We know that most New Zealanders regard their environment as a precious resource. We also know that “Mum and Dad investors” and many farmers want their natural environment to be protected because our economy is so intrinsically linked to the environment,” says Galbraith.

“It is sad that the government is choosing to attack individuals, such as Dr Mike Joy, rather than listening to what is being said about the ecological problems facing New Zealand and providing sufficient resources to remedy the situation.” Maintaining a robust state of the environment reporting methodology will go some way to ensuring accurate information is available about changes in the NZ environment.

The NZ Ecological Society is the country’s largest non-governmental organisation devoted to ecological research in New Zealand and is holding it s national conference this week in Lincoln.