May has brought the first of the winter snow to the hills, and several hard frost have been felt inland. Further to the coast the frost have been milder, and the ground still retains a bit of warmth.
A major achievement of the mudfish project this month has been the awarding of funding from the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment’s “Participatory Science Platform” for our collaboration with the University of Otago Department of Chemistry and local schools.
This funding will allow us to purchase water quality testing equipment so the LWRMS can measure several parameters of water quality at the mudfish sites and build up a picture of environmental conditions. This data will allow us to better understand the seasonal dynamics of the mudfish habitat. This information has several potential applications including comparative assessment of habitat for its potential for translocation, and the potential for improving spawning success through in situ augmentation (i.e. by manipulating water inputs).
The cost of long-term water testing is typically high. Over the next six months I will also be working closely with the University of Otago Chemistry department to develop a simple, easy to use, low cost water testing tool based on the open source Public Lab Desktop Spectrometer 3.0. Once developed, this tool will also have relevance for monitoring water parameters for a range of land management practices. I have started conversations with the Otago Regional Council, but I am also keen to gain support for this project from irrigation companies and farmers.
Both the monitoring program and tool development will be undertaken in close association with year 12 and 13 students from St Kevin’s College, and we will be actively promoting the development of the project with the primary schools we already work with.
- From the May report prepared by Max Crowe.