Posted by Ben Cranston
Out with the old and in with the new: a phrase which does not apply to long-term vegetation plots. Earlier in the year, I began taking the reins at one of the University of Auckland’s scientific reserves, Huapai, in the northern Waitakeres. Apart from my primary task at the site of implementing a droughting experiment on kauri (Agathis australis), I am also responsible for overseeing the continuity of long-term monitoring operations for projects past. On rare days when there is a spare moment to soak in the surroundings, I am still awestruck by the intricacy of Aotearoa ngahere urutapu (New Zealand’s virgin forest)…
… The Tasman Tempest
Thanks to data provided by NIWA, I have at last found validation for making such claims as “the rain never stops on field days” and “mud is definitely soupier today than last time. Glad I insisted on the Wellies!” because many parts of Te Ika-a-Māui –Tāmaki Makaurau included- experienced their wettest autumns on record. Indeed, the winter up north was not as wet, but the trails never quite recovered from the “Tasman tempest” of early March making the, er, march up to the site always interesting.
My outlook for spring is hopeful. The sky is already bluer, the ponga seem livelier, and though the mozzies are becoming a nuisance again, they are a welcome trade-off for fair weather. Soon the apparatus for the drought shelters will be fully installed along with the tree sensors and, as they say, we’ll be off the races on a first-for-NZ drought experiment. By summertime, the lab group will be faced with the new challenge of recruiting volunteers for tree-climbing days to take canopy-level measurements.