May 23, 2018

Nature Watch in New Zealand with iNaturalist NZ

Dear valued NatureWatch NZ user,

As you may be aware our NatureWatch NZ website unexpectedly shut down on the afternoon of Monday, 21 May 2018.

Please note that all of your observations are safe as all data are stored with our international partner, iNaturalist.

Trustees of the New Zealand Bio-Recording Network Trust, which operates NatureWatch NZ, have been unable to resolve a long-standing domain name issue. NatureWatch.org.nz was owned and managed on the Trust’s behalf by a third party. When NatureWatch NZ was launched, it was done so on the basis that the domain would be transferred to the Trust. That did not occur and, despite numerous requests, the domain has remained with the third party. The recent shutdown by the third party demonstrates the reasons why it is essential that the Trust has full access and control over its domain. We have endeavoured to determine why the domain registration was cancelled on Monday. The third party is overseas and has not yet responded to our enquiries. The Trustees wish to engage all the NatureWatch NZ community in a discussion about future decisions.

After carefully weighing up all options (including seeking to have the naturewatch.org.nz domain transferred through the Courts) the majority of Trustees have resolved that the least disruptive option is to relocate NatureWatch NZ to a new domain. As part of our efforts over the last few days to restore NatureWatch NZ we have been in close contact with our iNaturalist partners in the USA. They have indicated that they were about to initiate a process of consultation with partners about closer alignment with the global iNaturalist brand across the growing global iNaturalist Network, of which NatureWatch NZ is the New Zealand member. Although this global decision has not yet been made the Trustees propose that we look forward and switch our domain and the NatureWatch NZ community to iNaturalist.NZ. This aligns the Trust with the proposed future direction of our international partners, ensures brand consistency with the mobile iNaturalist apps, and will minimise any potential future disruptions.



The Trustees will be meeting on 20 June to vote on the brand/domain issue. We seek your feedback on the Trustees’ proposal to align with the international iNaturalist brand. Whilst our name will change, we will retain all our existing NZ specific functionality, e.g., community of users, places, maps, projects, etc. Feedback can be made in a comment below, or on the Trust Facebook page, or sent to naturewatchnz@gmail.com. Please ensure that any responses are sent by 5 pm on Friday 15 June.

While the Trustees are making every effort to minimise disruption, our move will affect existing external links, apps and other services that are operating from the current NatureWatch NZ platform (see FAQs below for solutions). From today (24 May) we are operational as iNaturalist.NZ and that will be the case at least until the future brand is confirmed at the next Trust meeting.

We aim to quickly resolve any technical issues with this changeover. If you have any technical inquiries please email naturewatchnz@gmail.com for assistance. We will keep users regularly updated here at iNaturalist.NZ and on our Facebook page.

The Trustees would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support and enthusiasm over our first 5 and a half years as NatureWatch NZ. Together we have built an extraordinary resource of over half a million records made by more than 9,000 observers. You can all be proud that together we have made NZ a world leader in citizen bio-recording. We appreciate your patience while we get through this difficult period and resume ‘normal transmission’ and an upward trajectory.

Kindest regards,

New Zealand Bio-Recording Network Trust


Frequently Asked Questions:



Who runs NatureWatch NZ?


NatureWatch NZ is managed by the New Zealand Bio-Recording Network Trust (NZBRN Trust). The NZBRN Trust is a registered Charitable Trust in NZ.

What is iNaturalist and the iNaturalist Network?


iNaturalist is based at the California Academy of Sciences and maintain the code base that operates NatureWatch NZ and our dedicated server that securely stores your data. NatureWatch NZ is one of several international partners in what is referred to as the iNaturalist Network. iNaturalist also operate the phone app service used by many NatureWatch NZ users.

Do you currently subscribe to NatureWatch NZ or are you contributing via iNaturalist?


Some users in New Zealand are not yet aligned with the NatureWatch NZ community but operate via iNaturalist when using their phone app. We do not have access to their email addresses and so have not been able to contact them directly about these changes. If you have friends that use NatureWatch NZ or the iNaturalist app in NZ please make sure they are aware of this change.

What is the NatureWatch NZ Facebook page?


www.facebook.com/nzbrn/

What is a domain?


A domain is a text address that points your web browser to the appropriate IP (Internet Protocol) Address which is a series of numbers that tells your browser where to obtain the relevant content for that site.

What will happen to existing NatureWatch NZ links?


Unfortunately any URL linkages and widgets will no longer work in their previous form as they rely solely on www.naturewatch.org.nz. At this stage we know that the iNaturalist phone app is unaffected by these changes but we are yet to determine the impact on third party phone apps that rely on the API functionality. Some may have issues but it will depend on the how those apps were developed so issues are likely to arise on a case by case basis. URLs (we addresses) can be updated by pointing them to the new domain name. For example:

Old: naturewatch.org.nz/observations/9004912

New: inaturalist.nz/observations/9004912



Posted on May 23, 2018 11:23 PM by jon_sullivan jon_sullivan | 24 comments | Leave a comment

November 26, 2017

Myrtle rust reporter

Download the free app: iPhone, Android

Back in April NatureWatch NZ brought you the sad news that myrtle rust had been found in Northland and we asked the community to keep an eye out for it. We now have a new weapon in the fight against the plant disease myrtle rust, currently threatening a number of New Zealand’s native species, including pōhutukawa, ramarama, northern and southern rātā and manuka.

It's a smartphone app to help you report myrtle rust, developed by the Northland Regional Council, Scion, Envirolink, Te Tira Whakamātaki (Maori Biosecurity Network), Biological Heritage National Science Challenge, and MPI. The app works with NatureWatchNZ so that all NZ’ers can assist in a surveillance campaign to find myrtle rust.

The myrtle rust reporter app is freely available in the iPhone and Android app stores. We encourage you to give this new bilingual app a go and use it to record a dozen potential host plants in your community. You will become the kaitiaki (or guardian) of these specific plants. Check these plants regularly and look for telltale yellow spores on new growth. If you think you’ve found myrtle rust, remember not to touch the plant or the symptoms. Take a picture and submit your record using the app. Then immediately phone MPI on 0800 80 99 66. The investigator on the phone will use your app username to look up your record and discuss your photo with you.

It’s super important that you do record your host plants so that we all know what plants you are looking after. Myrtle rust has so far been found in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Taranaki, and Te Puke, however New Zealand’s a big place and myrtle rust has tiny little spores so as a group we need to make sure we cover as much of New Zealand as possible. Check out where other people are helping by visiting the myrtle rust reporter project where we will update you with progress.

Posted on November 26, 2017 07:55 PM by jon_sullivan jon_sullivan | 3 comments | Leave a comment

April 11, 2017

If you see bright yellow powder on a plant – DON’T TOUCH IT!

Myrtle rust is a serious fungal disease of plants. Although it is not present on the New Zealand mainland it has recently been detected on Raoul Island. This fungus has a wide host range within the Myrtaceae, a family of plants that include many of New Zealand’s most iconic trees, e.g., pōhutukawa, rata, manuka, kanuka and important introduced species like Eucalyptus and one of our favourite autumn fruits, the feijoa.

Myrtle rust often attacks fresh new growth and early infestations are characterised by yellow powdery eruptions on the surface of leaves as well as flowers, fruits, buds, and shoots. The spores themselves are microscopic so you won’t see them. However, don’t touch the yellow powder as you will coat yourself and your clothes in spores — potentially spreading the disease further. Further information can be found in this MPI fact sheet.

What should you do if you see something suspicious?


  • Take a photo, log your observation on Naturewatch NZ.

  • Don’t touch it and if you accidently come in contact make sure you bag your clothing and wash clothes, bags and boots when you get home.

  • Immediately ring 0800 809966 and have your NatureWatch User ID or the observation ID on hand and MPI can quickly review your observation and provide additional advice.


This rust is a serious issue and the earlier we can detect an incursion the more chance there is that something can be done about it. So remember, take a photo, log your obs and give MPI a call as soon as you can.

Help protect New Zealand, get out there and keep looking.

Thanks from the NatureWatch NZ Team


Myrtle rust is easy to overlook at first. Be sure to report any orange rust fungus you find on an plant in the Myrtaceae family. Photos © Ministry for Primary Industries (used with permission).




Posted on April 11, 2017 09:18 AM by jon_sullivan jon_sullivan | 2 comments | Leave a comment

December 16, 2016

You can help promote Brown Marmorated Stink Bug biocontrol

Plant and Food Research are currently conducting research on the potential to use a parasitic wasp (Trissolcus japonicus) as a biocontrol option should a population of Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) be detected in New Zealand. Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is an awful pest overseas and can have big impacts on crops like grapes. It's something we definitely do not want establishing in NZ, and yet border biosecurity officers have detected this species multiple times at NZ's borders. If we don't act, it's likely only a matter of time before it establishes here.

A population of the BMSB-specialist wasp would be released and seek out and parasitise BMSB eggs reducing population pressure. In combination with chemical control this would maximise the chances of eradicating BMSB before it became problematic.  To enable the import of T. japonicus it is important to understand its potential impact on New Zealand’s current shield bug populations. Plant & Food Research need a supply of shield bugs to test whether T. japonicus parasitises them as well as BMSB. You can help!

Please keep a close look out for either of the following bugs.


Brown Shield Bug (Dictyotus caenosus) (Observed by lek November 23, 2016)


Schellenberg's Soldier Bug (Oechalia schellenbergii) (Observed by epitree October 9, 2015)

They might be confused with the brown soldier bug (also called the glossy shield bug), which we don’t need. If you can’t tell the difference then we’re happy to add them to our colony.


Brown Soldier Bug (Cermatulus nasalis) (Observed by epitree February 14, 2015)

If any are found can you please contact Sophie at Sophie.hunt@plantandfood.co.nz. She'd be very grateful for your help.

If you do find any Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (we really hope you don’t!), be sure to report them ASAP.


Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (Halyomorpha halys) (Observed by claggy September 23, 2016 in USA)

Please, catch it, snap it, report it – call the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) at 0800 80 9966, put it in a snap lock bag pop it in the freezer. If you're not sure, please call MPI anyway and you can add a photo to NatureWatch NZ to check the ID.

Posted on December 16, 2016 09:12 AM by jon_sullivan jon_sullivan | 4 comments | Leave a comment

September 06, 2016

Join us for this year's Great Kererū Count, 16–25 September 2016

The Great Kererū Count is the largest national citizen science project to help gather information on the abundance and distribution of the New Zealand Pigeon — also known as kererū, kūkū or kūkupa. The Great Kererū Count will take place over 10 full days from 16 to 25 September 2016. It's the time for all New Zealanders to get together and do a population health check for these amazing birds. So get ready to get out and about and make your kererū count.

NatureWatch NZ is the place for your kererū counts and you've got three ways to get your counts loaded in. Like everything on NatureWatch NZ, they're all free.

You can enter your counts directly into the Great Kererū Count 2016 project on the NatureWatch NZ website at http://naturewatch.org.nz/projects/great-kereru-count-2016 This option is best if you're already hooked on NatureWatch NZ or are keen to become part of New Zealand's largest online community of nature watchers. Use NatureWatch NZ if you've got photos of your counted kererū to share.

NatureWatch NZ users can also count on the go by logging into NatureWatch NZ from the iNaturalist app (Android, iOS). This is a great way to quickly upload kererū photos taken on your smart phone.

If you're in a rush or don't want to deal with the hassle of signing up for NatureWatch NZ, you can add your observations to the web form on the Great Kererū Count website at http://greatkererucount.nz/ Their web form loads your counts into NatureWatch NZ too, but it does so anonymously and without the ability to add photos. It's built for you flyby kererū counters out there who are keen to quickly share a kererū count then get back to your busy lives until next year's count.

kereru

The Great Kereru Count people have put together some nice detailed instructions for each of those options if you're a first time kererū counter or in case you run into any problems getting started. The NatureWatch NZ team will also be available, as we always are, at help@naturewatch.org.nz.

Our colleagues at Victoria University in Wellington have been busy analysing the results of last year's mighty kererū count. You can read about their findings in their report here (although, caution, it's not light bedtime reading). The more people get involved, and the more years the kererū count runs, the more we'll learn.

Posted on September 06, 2016 02:36 AM by jon_sullivan jon_sullivan | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 01, 2016

Changes on NatureWatch NZ

If you're a long-time user of NatureWatch NZ, you will have noticed some changes to the site recently. Along with the rest of the iNaturalist network, we've been gradually updating the site to (hopefully) make it easier to use for new users and more efficient for everyone else. The iNaturalist developers in San Francisco has been working hard on this for a while now.

One of the biggest recent changes was to our ID Please page. It's now the Identify page and it's geared up to help you to help others to identify their photos and sounds. You can now search on the taxon (e.g., starfish, or sharks, or daisies) you have some expertise in and then flick through all the observations waiting for ID. Once you get the hang of it, it's quite a bit quicker than our old page.

More recently, we've just flicked the switch to take you straight to your Dashboard if you're signed in. And that Dashboard has had facelift to (hopefully) make it more intuitive for new comers. To see the old NatureWatch NZ front page, you need to be signed out. It's now what people new to the site see (and we'll be reworking it soon to make it more inviting for new users).

The other big change is a brand new Add Observation page. It's currently available at http://naturewatch.org.nz/observations/upload but will soon replace our old add an observation page which was been widely regarded as intimidatingly complicated by new users when we've been out in the community running tutorials. You can do all the same things with the new page, but it's hidden away some of the complexity. The minimum you need to do now is just drag a photo onto the webpage and pushing the Submit button.

We hope you like some of the changes. We also appreciate your patience. We know that any change is disruptive. Together with our iNaturalist partners, we're trying to make NatureWatch NZ as inviting and intuitive for new users as we can, while still containing all of the wonderful flexibility and rich features that our long-time users have come to rely on.

Cheers!

The NatureWatch NZ team (info@naturewatch.org.nz)

Posted on July 01, 2016 01:37 AM by jon_sullivan jon_sullivan | 3 comments | Leave a comment