The mining on Denniston has been given the go-ahead by the Environment Court.
The mine application covers just over one square kilometre.
According to a report by the Department of Conservation, there are within that area at least eight plants and animals that are officially rated as Threatened – that is, they are Nationally Critical, Nationally Endangered, or Nationally Vulnerable.
These are four liverworts, two lichens, one fern, and one snail.
Liverworts: Isolembidium anomalum var. anomalum, Nationally Critical; Neogrollea notabilis, Nationally Endangered; Saccogynidium decurvum, Nationally Vulnerable; Telaranea inaequalis, Nationally Vulnerable.
Lichens: Austropeltum glareosum, Nationally Endangered; Pycnothelia caliginosa, Nationally Endangered.
Fern: Sticherus tener, Nationally Critical.
Snail: Powelliphanta patrickensis, Nationally Endangered.
The report lists several additional At Risk species, and media reports suggest a number of new, as-yet-undescribed species.
As a scientist researching New Zealand’s biodiversity, including describing new species, I am interested in New Zealand’s biodiversity ‘hotspots’. In this context, I’m wondering:
Where else in New Zealand do eight or more officially Threatened species occur within an area of one square kilometre?
Initial suggestions for consideration include several of the offshore islands, Surville Cliffs (northern North Island), parts of inland Otago (e.g., Macraes Flat), and various coastal turfs (e.g., south Taranaki).
More suggestions would be welcome – please leave any ideas below. A list of Threatened species within a well-defined area would be particularly useful.
Te Papa’s collection includes several hundred thousand specimens of animals and plants from New Zealand. Together with similar collections, it is used by biodiversity scientists, including Te Papa’s own team, to: document the species that are present in New Zealand; to determine how each of these species can be distinguished; and to understand where each species occurs and how common it is.
An example from Te Papa’s collection showing common and uncommon species: the fern genus Sticherus. Clicking on the map will make it interactive, and the legend can then be used to map each species individually.
From these collections, as well as observations and other records, a fair amount is already known about where many species occur in New Zealand. This in turn has informed an official conservation-ranking assessment of many of New Zealand’s species (with these rankings regularly revised).
What New Zealand needs now are the computer tools and connected data to make the analytical identification of biodiversity ‘hotspots’ easy and efficient, across all of the country and for all animals, plants, fungi, and other organisms.
Previous Denniston-related posts:
Compensating for ecological harm.