conservation biology

Dr Liz Slooten

In a show where Anton describes dolphins as “unicorns, only wetter”, our guest is Dr Liz Slooten.

Listen in to find answers to these burning questions and more:

  • Why is the concept of “sustainable bycatch” for marine mammals a bit of a nonsense? (hint: we wouldn’t accept a bycatch of kiwi, yet NZ’s sea mammals are endangered and declining).
  • Is a “blue economy” possible? Can the ocean withstand any further industrialisation? (hint: no).
  • What is good, and bad about fisheries Quota Management System? (hint: it doesn’t specify method controls).
  • Why do Hector’s Dolphin click but not whistle? (might have been other way around).
  • What is New Zealand’s most polluted species? (hint: its initials are HD).
  • Why can’t the dolphins learn to get out of gill nets? (hint: it is fatal).
  • What is “fission fusion”? (hint: a dolphin party).
  • How much would it cost to protect NZ’s remaining dolphins? (hint: a really small number).

On a more sombre note, Liz describes the recent death of a Maui’s dolphin off Cape Egmont. How it happened and what wasn’t done to protect it.

Associate Professor Liz Slooten is New Zealand’s leading authority on the use of population modelling to estimate sustainable levels of marine mammal bycatch in fishing operations. Her teaching and research interests include a wide range of scientific approaches to ensuring that intentional and unintentional impacts on animal populations are sustainable. These include visual and acoustic census techniques, study of survival and movements of identifiable individuals, study of pollutant levels in marine mammals and other animals, effects of tourism on marine mammal behaviour, reproductive biology, population modelling, risk assessment and decision analysis. Dr Slooten represents New Zealand at the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission.

Shane’s number of the week: 21. Shane argues that the denial of assistive technology to green MP Mojo Mathers is a breach of Article 21 of the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. (Mojo Mather’s Maiden Speech).

Sam’s joined-up-thinking: The Resilient People: Resilient Planet reaffirms the goals of the Brundtland report. It asks what we have to do to make a difference.


Dr Kerry Shephard and Mary Furnari

Kerry Shephard and Mary Furnari are from Otago University HEDC. Kerry and Mary are investigating university teachers’ perceptions of Education for Sustainability. They tell us about the card sorting methodology they’re using (Q methodology to be precise) whereby participants sort 50 statements about education for sustainability – how they do this is then used to identify groups of teachers. We talk about teaching as a transformative experience, about the role of values, and whether advocating for sustainability in teaching is the right thing to do.

Shane’s number of the week: 70. Seventy is number of islands of the Orkneys who are aiming for 100% renewable energy by 2020. This is a perfect example of leadership from the government promoting global leadership in innovation, revitalising communities and making best use of human and physical resources.

Sam’s joined-up-thinking: Sam talks with Sam Sharp, one of the organisers of the 350 Dunedin Festival.

landscape tourism

Dr Anna Thompson

This is a rollicking session that has something for everyone: growing up in a National Park; working as park interpreter; renaissance art; visitor surveys; gardening Mt Cook; wilding pines; 1080; the greening of the McKenzie; valuing landscape; the corporatisation of landscape; wicked spirals of land-use; the outdoors; and the future of tourism.

Anna Thompson is co-director for the Centre for Recreation Research in the Otago University Department of Tourism. Her PhD (1998-2004) examined the management of visitors’ experiences of cultural values for landscapes in New Zealand, with a focus on integrating cultural values within interpretation. The research investigated issues relating to natural and cultural heritage management, cultural tourism and visitor interpretation in New Zealand. She has been a visiting researcher at the University of Stavanger (Norway) in 2006. Anna sits on the NZ Mountain Safety Council National Research Committee and is a director of Te Ana Whakairo (Ngai Tahu Maori Rock Art Centre Trust).

Anna has published in the fields of eco tourism, adventure tourism, entrepreneurship and visitor interpretation. Her other research interests include: wilderness recreation planning, sustainable SMTEs and destinations, cultural landscapes and the history of alpine and polar region recreation. From 1999 to 2002 Anna worked alongside Professor James Higham on a nationwide FRST funded project investigating Ecotourism in New Zealand: profiling visitors to New Zealand ecotourism operations. Recent external funded work includes conducting three surveys and qualitative research for the Department of Conservation in the Hakatere, Ahuriri and Ruataniwha Conservation Parks. Most recently she has led a SPARC funded project – ‘Family preferences, experiences and benefits associated with outdoor in Aotearoa’.

Shane’s number of the week: 4.3 is how many people get killed worldwide by sharks each year (average 2001-2010). Meanwhile 100,000,000 sharks are killed by humans.

Sam’s joined-up-thinking: Next week Sam is taking the Live Below the Line Challenge. He will be spending only $2.25 per day on food to raise awareness of extreme poverty.

behaviour change energy power

Dr Paul Thorsnes and…

Energy Cultures – do they exist, how would we find out what they are and how can we change them?

We talk with Paul Thorsnes, Maria Ioannou and Daniel Gnoth about this new area of research.

The three-year Energy Cultures research project has recently begun. Based at CSAFE (Centre for the Study of Agriculture, Food and Environment) the study aims for a better understanding of household energy consumption behaviours and encouraging behaviour change to more energy efficient technologies.

Headed by OERC members Prof. Rob Lawson, Prof. Gerry Carrington, Dr. Janet Stephenson, and Dr. Paul Thorsnes, the project combines a variety of research specialisations for a multi-disciplinary, multi-method research approach.

Shane’s number of the week: 80% – for just the cost of 1% of GDP the entire world could move to meet 80% of its energy needs from renewable energy resources.