Winner of the 2018 Capstone Editing Conference Travel Grant for Postgraduate Research Students
We are proud to announce Ms Elizabeth Elliot-Hogg as the recipient of the 2018 Capstone Editing Conference Travel Grant for Postgraduate Research Students. She will be presenting her PhD research at the 2018 Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia (SERA) Conference in Brisbane, Australia.
Elizabeth is undertaking her PhD research in the field of urban restoration ecology at the University of Waikato in New Zealand (NZ), under the supervision of Professor Bruce Clarkson. With a focus on restored native forests in NZ cities and how they contribute to the conservation of native birds, Elizabeth’s ongoing research not only promotes the benefits of urban restoration ecology, but also tries to discover if the connection between people and nature can be revived. Her research both monitors the factors assisting native birds to adapt to native restoration and interviews people regarding their relationship with nature through their use of restored forests. It is evident that people cannot only rely on urban gardens for native biodiverse life to thrive. With results indicating a need for more investment in urban restoration, Elizabeth’s research highlights that the link between people and nature is ever more important in our present urban world—to us and to nature.
She has an outstanding field work record that demonstrates her expertise in the ecology arena—from being a wolf park intern in Battle Ground, Indiana, to being an ecological field work technician responsible for collecting and analysing field data, to being a Ranger at the Department of Conservation in Rotorua, where she was responsible for monitoring biodiversity. Her extensive experience presents her as a knowledgeable, dedicated and hardworking individual with much to offer.
With the Capstone Editing Conference Travel Grant for Postgraduate Students supporting her, Elizabeth can present her research to a broad Australasian community of ecologists and gain recognition for her work and herself as a new researcher. She aims to use this opportunity to present her research, receive feedback from the academic community and improve her research with potential new ideas gleaned from the conference, the greater scientific community and other researchers with whom she could collaborate in the future.
An overview of the research Elizabeth will be presenting can be found below.
The capacity of restored urban forests to support native birds: Ecological or social restoration?
My ongoing PhD research combines ecological and social science to evaluate the contribution that restored native forests in New Zealand cities can make to native bird conservation and reconnecting urban residents with nature. The goal is to identify which factors among local habitat variables, landscape characteristics, site age and predation, determine the ability of native New Zealand bush birds to benefit from urban restoration. Birds and predators were monitored at 43 sites in two North Island cities: Hamilton and New Plymouth. Sites represented three types of urban forest: unrestored (n = 6), restored (n = 26) remnant (n = 6), and the non-urban forest remnant nearest to each city (n = 6). Restored sites formed an age gradient of 1 to 73 years since initial planting. Preliminary results reveal a trend for native bird species’ richness to increase with the age of restored sites. The number of native bush bird species in Hamilton and New Plymouth is low (6 detected). Bird communities appear to shift from being dominated by non-native finches during the early stages of restoration, to supporting a greater number of native bush birds as the sites mature. The qualitative, semi-structured interviews explored whether frequent use of restored forest can re-establish a relationship between people and native nature. Results reveal that parks dominated by native vegetation are valued for the opportunity they provide for observing nature and escaping the stresses of city life. Interviewees’ appreciation of native nature was ambiguous and complex, however, and reported preferences for native vegetation and birds did not result in increased plantings of native species in respondents’ gardens. Our findings suggest that we cannot rely on urban gardens to support native biodiversity in the short term and stress the need for local authorities to invest more time and resources in urban restoration.