Exploring the Alpine Zone

Exploring the Alpine Zone

Posted on 7th Jun 2016

“My happy place is somewhere high in the mountains, within an intact ecosystem full of native alpine species, in perfect weather, with a camera; is that too much to ask for?”

Kerry spends as much time as possible in the alpine zone where she strives to understand the species which have made this harsh environment their home.

“I really want to increase our understanding of alpine ecology, and I’m working towards developing tools to reverse declines in alpine biodiversity,” she explains.

Kerry’s work is extremely varied, but it involves:

– Developing monitoring methods for cryptic species in the alpine zone (e.g. rock wren and stoats)
– Designing studies to understand what drives alpine predator abundance.
– Establishing predator control programmes above the tree line, and monitoring the outcomes for sensitive threatened species.

“There is currently some uncertainty around the extent to which management of introduced alpine predators is required, largely because we have little understanding of how predation risk above the tree line varies seasonally, annually or geographically,” she explains.

While her work with DOC so far has been incredibly rewarding – it’s not all about beautiful birds.

“The strangest DOC moment I’ve had so far is being tasked with conserving an entire population (6,175) of critically endangered snails in captivity, due to the mining of their native habitat on the West Coast of the South Island.”