Shelley, congratulations on your very impressive prospectus. Best wishes for your own work on the freshwater environs.
50 degrees south and discover
its hidden secrets
A lot has happened since we returned on the 11 February to Christchurch from our expedition to Campbell Island. A devastating earthquake 11 days after our return and then another in June were among the more memorable (memorable for all for the wrong reasons) happenings. The February quake sent our freezer in the EOS Ecology lab flying and our irreplaceable 200-odd invertebrate samples thrown to the floor. It was a small miracle that they all survived the shake-up, and our gas-powered expedition freezer came into its own – being fired up to keep the majority of frozen samples on ice while we waited a few weeks for the power to come back on. The remaining samples (we had a fridge full of water samples and sediment cores) went on a short hiatus to the western suburbs and out to Lincoln (to Landcare Research) where the earthquake hadn’t made itself felt.
It is an understatement to say that the earthquakes set our post-expedition progress back many months, but finally things seem to be getting back to normal (or as they say here in Christchurch, a ‘new normal’). We have processed over half of the 200 odd invertebrate samples that we collected, and have already recorded over 30 unique taxa – much more than the 16 taxa recorded from streams in previous publications. This is down to our more intensive sampling at each site and our greater coverage of the island, plus our desire to go to the highest possible taxonomic resolution for taxa identifications (e.g., to species level if we can manage it).
Despite the earthquakes we did have cause to celebrate this year, with EOS Ecology being awarded a TFBIS (Terrestrial and Freshwater Biodiversity Information System) fund to produce the first ever identification key for freshwater invertebrates of Campbell Island. Working with New Zealand’s most notable freshwater invertebrate specialist, Professor Mike Winterbourn, and confirming identifications of undescribed species with taxonomists from around the world, we will produce an online interactive key on the little known freshwater fauna of the island, with notes on distribution throughout the wider Subantarctic. The key will be made freely available on the CIBE website and will be useful to all practitioners working in the Subantarctic. We will let you know when it is due out, but it will be at least a year or two yet!