From the photo gallery...
Why go to Rangatira Island for 13 weeks!!!
Dr Melanie Massaro and her team from the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Canterbury are preparing to leave for Rangatira Island to study many birds that live there. Access to the Rangatira is extremely limited and only a handful of people will visit the island each year. Melanie and her team will spend 13 weeks on the island with little contact with the outside world - this means her team need to choose carefully what food and equipment to take with them. There is no mall to go to if they have forgotten something!
Going island crazy?
Melanie spends 3 months of the year on Rangatira Island to gather data for her research. Native birds are constantly under threat on mainland New Zealand from introduced predators such as rats and cats. Introduced bird species such as blackbirds have flourished under the same conditions. Melanie is interested in why this is so. There is also some evidence showing that mainland native birds are changing their behaviours to cope with the introduced predators.
Chatham Island Tomtit chick being weighed
The forest of Rangatira Island allows Melanie to investigate the behaviour of various bird species that have evolved without introduced predators (there are no introduced predators on this island). She then compares the behaviour of the Rangatira birds with similar species on the New Zealand mainland to see if the mainland species are starting to adapt to the introduced predators.
The team at work dust ruffling a black robin
Many bird species on Rangatira Island have passed through a population bottleneck. Melanie is interested in investigating what effect the loss of genetic variation has on several different bird species including the Black Robin and the Chatham Island Tomtit.