It's all about Peripatus!
Rotokare is very fortunate to be hosting our third Royal Society Teaching Fellow. Shakira Derbyshire is a primary school teacher at Auroa School. The Royal Society offer a Science Teaching Leadership Programme (STLP), which is funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the purpose of the programme is for teachers to gain an understanding of science in the real world. Through leadership skill development we aim to improve the school’s science programme and inspire student engagement.
Shakira has taken part in a wide range of sanctuary operations including helping the trust learn more about the peripatus population in the reserve.
The Peripatus, also known as the velvet worm, is an invertebrate essentially unchanged for 500 million years. There are up to 30 New Zealand species, currently only 9 have been named! Little is known about them, but we do know they come out at night, are only a few centimetres long, have between 13 to 16 pairs of stumpy legs on a worm-like body, and they spit goo to capture their prey! We hope to gain an understanding of the preferred habitat of the peripatus, and an estimate of the population, distribution and species present at Rotokare. This involves searching through rotten logs and looking carefully through leaf-litter. So far, we think two different species exist at Rotokare. Previously there had only been one recorded!
Shakira, enlisted the help of some Auroa students in the great Peripatus bug hunt, it turns out they were expert peripatus finders! To read more about Shakira's Sanctuary Sabbatical adventures, check out her blog.
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