Exploring tools for use in the management of threatened grasshoppers

Tara Murray *1, Jennifer Schori 2

1 University of Canterbury, School of Forestry, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, 8140
2 University of Canterbury, School of Biological Sciences, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, 8140

Brachaspis robustus is a national endangered grasshopper restricted to the braided rivers and associated river terraces of the Mackenzie Basin, South Island, New Zealand. Since 2015, research has been undertaken to develop tools and actions to facilitate the grasshopper’s conservation, which can ideally be adapted to benefit conservation of other threatened insect species in the future. Details of the species biology and ecology have been assessed to determine requirements for captive rearing, translocation and mitigating threats. A translocation method has been devised and successfully trialled. Biologically meaningful methods for monitoring population size and change over time have been developed, and in 2017 these were implemented in a pilot trial across the distribution of the grasshopper. To conserve the species in its current range, or in new sites from which threats have been removed, an understanding of how the grasshoppers utilise and move through their environment is also necessary. Here we present two methods trialled to track grasshopper movement in the wild; traditional radio telemetry with transmitters, and tracking with RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags. Forty-six grasshoppers were tracked between October 2017 and February 2018. We compare the success of each tracking method, their pros and cons as conservation tools and the data each was able to provide.

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