Royal Society of New Zealand, Canterbury Branch
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Travel Grant Reports 2001

5th Invertebrate Biodiversity and Conservation Conference: Adelaide, 1-4 December
Stephen Pawson
Ecology and Entomology Group, Lincoln University

Oregus inaequalis Castelnau

Prior to attending the conference I spent a couple of days tramping in the semi-arid Flinders Ranges to the north of Adelaide. Apart from the excellent scenery it gave me an opportunity to experience some of the invertebrate communities that many of the papers covered during the conference. Semi arid Australia is dominated by ants, in places it was difficult to distinguish between the ground and the ant; quite amazing really. Everybody talked throughout the conference about the dominance of ants, however it really had to be seen to be believed.

Many of the papers at the conference dealt with the impact of invasive species, particularly the imported red fire ant and of more immediate relevance to New Zealand the Argentine ant. A very provocative movie was shown outlining the decimation caused by the yellow crazy ant to the red crab population on Easter Island. It was estimated last season that the ants were responsible for the death of at least 3 million crabs, and that was being conservative. Other areas that were well covered (but often not thought about) where the impacts of invasive species in the marine environment.

My presentation outlined research I have been completing for my masters looking at the species relationships amongst an endemic ground beetle genus, Oregus. The talk was well received, with some stimulating question time. The conference, my first opportunity to interact with a largely international scientific community allowed me to make many important contacts mainly in Australia.

I would like to thank the Canterbury Branch of the Royal Society for its generous grant-in-aid that allowed me to attend the conference.

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14th Biennial Marine Mammal Conference
Laura Boren
PhD Candidate
Canterbury University

Adult female fur seal (photo taken at Te Oka Bay, Banks Peninsula)

Through the assistance of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Canterbury Branch, I had the opportunity to attend the 14th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals. The conference took place from the 29th of November to the 3rd of December (2001) in Vancouver, B.C. Canada. This meeting was the largest of the marine mammal meetings attracting nearly 2000 delegates from around the world.

There were eight pre-conference workshops held on the 28th of November. I presented data at the workshop for "Marine Mammal Viewing in the Wild," which brought together experts in the field of tourism impacts from around the world. My presentation outlined the current situation of New Zealand fur seal viewing in New Zealand as well as results from observing guided "seal swim" and "seal walk" programmes in Kaikoura and Abel Tasman, New Zealand.

During the conference I presented a paper on the use of controlled approaches to determine the impact of tourism on fur seals. The results suggested that seals are changing behaviour in response to tourist approaches. It is also apparent that certain approach types are less detrimental than others. The results of the controlled approaches were also used to calculate more effective minimum approach distances, and the results have been submitted as a management report to the NZ Department of Conservation.

New Zealand is a unique case where tourists are provided with numerous opportunities for close encounters with wildlife, however, the management of such encounters can be lenient in comparison with other countries, making New Zealand an important country in the field of tourism impacts research. Both presentations were well received and both the meeting and workshop provided useful comparisons on encounter types, management guidelines, and educational programmes in place in different countries, including New Zealand.

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11th Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference (AWITC)
7-11 October 2001, Adelaide, South Australia
Harry Xiangdong Li
Soil, Plant & Ecological Sciences, Lincoln University

This biannual meeting is the most important event in the viticulture and wine industry in Australia. The AWITC attracted 1400 delegates (130 overseas) from industry, business and science to learn and discuss viticulture and wine making. The conference consisted of 8 sessions of specific topics, 100 workshops, 130 posters and a trade exhibition (160 stalls). This represents the most up to date information of the development of the wine industry in Australia. As a PhD student, I broadened my knowledge from the vast information presented in the conference.

I presented a poster at the conference: 'Potassium (K) Nutrition Altered Dry Matter Partitioning and Berry Composition of Pinot noir Grapevine'. Ensuring adequate K nutrition is important as low K reduces vine growth, but high K lowers wine quality. High K level in grapevines is one of the main mineral nutrition problems in both Australia and New Zealand. My research work found that K affects vegetative growth more than berry growth. Control of K supply reduces vine vigour and improves berry quality. The conference provided me an opportunity to discuss it with growers and colleagues in Australia. The discussion increased my understanding and knowledge on this topic. It has benefited my current research work.

As a migrant from China, I took special interest in the discussion on the world oversupply of wine. NZ and Australia, as the new wine producers, are export focused. With the over supply of wine in 'old world' (mainly EU), both countries are hoping to export wine to other countries. China, with its largest population in the world and new admission to WTO, no doubt is an important potential market for both countries. I got the confidence from the conference that the new knowledge I gained at Lincoln and my work experience in China may help me to do something in this field.

In the end, I really cherish the travel grant provided by the Royal Society, which may change my life in the future.

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Seventh International Seminar on Seismic Isolation
Passive Energy Dissipation and Active Control of Vibrations of Structures
October 2001, Assisi, Italy
Luis A. Toranzo
Ph.D. Candidate
School of Civil Engineering, University of Canterbury

Seismic isolation and passive and active control of structures include techniques that deal with the reduction of seismic demand on buildings. Although the approaches are still regarded as innovative, the knowledge and experience accumulated up to now makes them most promising.

I came to New Zealand from Arequipa, Peru, to research ways to improve the seismic performance of our buildings there. It didn't take me long to realise that seismic isolation and passive energy dissipation were not only good technical solutions but also cost-efficient ones. The paper that I presented in the seminar covers part of the work that I have done in the last two years. Before attending the seminar I had finished the core of my experimental program. Although there was not time to include the results in the paper, it helped to strengthen the points that I was trying to show.

Attending the seminar in Assisi, has been an experience that has helped me o put my research in perspective. Particularly interesting was to learn of non-technical implications of using these approaches rather than conventional ones. Learning the incidents that experienced designers and builders had to deal with to successfully use these methods is helping me to shape my work so that difficulties encountered can be eased.

The Royal Society helped me, with a travel grant, to get to Italy. This grant, along with the financial help of the School of Engineering at Canterbury and the organisers of the event, let me enjoy this great experience. I am very thankful to all them.

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NDSC symposium
24-27 September 2001,
Arcachon, France
Jelena Ajtic
Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Canterbury

Ozonesonde launch in Lauder, Central Otago.

The NDSC 2001 Symposium "Celebrating 10 years of Atmospheric Research" was held in Arcachon, France from 24 to 27 September. The symposium was organised by the Network for the Detection of Stratospheric Change (NDSC), which was formed ten years ago to provide a consistent set of long-term measurements of atmospheric trace gases and physical parameters. The NDSC sites are globally distributed and the standardised measurements they provide allow a better understanding of the stratospheric processes.

The posters and talks were organised into seven broad sessions covering various topics, such as trends in ozone and other trace species, surface ultraviolet levels and satellite measurements. The discussions that followed each of the sessions, where a summary and conclusions were drawn for each of the topics, were most valuable, especially for the attendants not working in the specified field.

The participants agreed that the results presented significantly contributed to the current understanding of the stratospheric phenomena. Furthermore, some of the results posed questions that are yet to be answered. A need for a better coverage of the tropical regions was recognised, and some basic information on two new sites was given. Lauder, Central Otago, also received special attention due to the fact that it is the only primary NDSC site in the southern midlatitudes.

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XIX International Grassland Congress (IGC)
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Alexandre C. Varella
PhD student
Plant Science Group, Lincoln University

The IGC was held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, from 11-21 February 2001. The general topic for this conference was "Grassland Ecosystems: an Outlook into the 21st Century". There were about 700 delegates from many different countries participating at this event with relevant research works on pastoral science. New Zealand and Australia were two of the most numerous international delegations in this conference.

Presentations were organized into 33 different sessions, ranging from the eco-physiology of pastures, forage quality, seed production, etc. to socioeconomic and environmental issues related to grasslands use. In each session, there were two oral presentations made by invited experts, followed by the posters. In total, 490 posters were presented at this conference.

I presented 3 posters with the theme " agro-silvipastoral systems". These posters showed part of my PhD research data conducted at Lincoln University.

The topics of my posters were:

(i) Use of different artificial shade materials for agroforestry research;
(ii) dry matter production and nutritive value comparisons between lucerne and cocksfoot under shade, and
(iii) effects of shade and nitrogen on the pattern of dry matter production and quality of cocksfoot.

The agroforestry session was one of the best attended sessions at this conference, showing the increasing interest of the scientific community in multiple land use with diversified and sustainable forage systems.

This conference was a very rewarding experience and provided me with a singular opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with a range of pastoral scientists from different countries. It also allowed me to participate in the usual outstanding New Zealand contribution to the IGC.

I am thankful to the Royal Society of New Zealand - Canterbury Branch - for their generous support which allowed me to attend this great event. I am quite convinced that this experience will contribute significantly to my future career.

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