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Freshwater friend

To celebrate Conservation Week we met Daniel Jack, a Biodiversity Ranger who looks out for the little guys.

Daniel is a Ranger – Biodiversity, Kaitiaki – Kanorau Koiora, from the Department of Conservation’s Dunedin-Otepoti Office.

Daniel, who has 16 years experience working with New Zealand endangered freshwater fishes says, ‘I am passionate about freshwater ecosystem conservation and the species that dwell within them.’

Here he tells us about the small but fast growing tadpole shrimp.

Tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus apus viridis)

Widespread in New Zealand known from Hawkes Bay to Otago, but not common. Lives in temporary (ephemeral) ponds, ditches and wetlands.

Can grow very rapidly, can reach maturity in two weeks from hatching, if conditions are right.

Eggs can be dispersed by wind, water and animals, resistant to desiccation (severe drying) and freezing, and remain viable for years in the soil until conditions are right to hatch.

Tadpole shrimp.
Photo credit: Mike Thorsen/Endangered Species Foundation

Why is it in trouble?

Loss of habitat through landscape development – urbanization, pasture improvement, hydrological alteration.

Up to date distribution is not well known therefore habitat identification and protection of ephemeral wetlands is difficult.

What we can do?

Value the ecology of ephemeral wetlands, include as significant habitats in regional plans and national initiatives, increase public awareness of the presence of these species and others like them.

Freshwater ecologists surveying for tadpole shrimp from the Ō Tū Wharekai/Ashburton Lakes area in Canterbury. Photo by Sjaan Bowie (DOC Christchurch).

This year DOC is celebrating 50 years of Conservation Week – a national celebration that encourages people to get involved in nature and help to take care of it.
Conservation Week runs from 14 – 22 September 2019.

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