New research enables nonlethal monitoring of weta

Published date22 June 2022
Publication titleWest Coast Messenger, The
A study by Massey University biologists, which was recently published in the New Zealand Journal of Zoology, found that half of the tree weta hiding inside refuge-boxes during the day returned home to the same box each night

Professor Mary Morgan-Richards from the School of Natural Sciences says site fidelity is common in large animals but not often recorded for insects.

Previously, documenting changes in insect populations in forest reserves usually required killing large numbers of specimens so sampling could be replicated, with specimens being stored, sorted, identified, and counted.

"This discovery means that it will be easier to monitor weta because we know the same individual will return to their same daytime refuge over many months," Prof Morgan-Richards says.

Tree weta are an important component of New Zealand forestecosystems as they are a food source for native birds, bats and reptiles.

The monitoring of weta and other species is an important step in assessing the success of programmes which have reduced or removed invasive mammal species from forest habitats around New Zealand in order to restore forest ecosystems.

By marking each tree weta with a unique colour and pattern...

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