Ecology students gain hands-on experience at Living Lab

06 October 2022 | News

Lincoln University’s Arboretum is serving as a Living Laboratory for students, with a first year ecology class gaining some valuable hands-on experience there recently.

As part of their ECOL103 Ecology I: New Zealand Ecology and Conservation course, the group spent time weeding and planting to enhance biodiversity in the Arboretum, which includes a wetland area.

The Arboretum has been a feature of campus since 1986 and is made up of half a hectare of exotic and native flora and fauna, including the largest collection of magnolias in the South Island. Historically, it was an amenity area for teaching horticulture, and was a project started by long-time former staff member, horticulture lecturer, Roy Edwards.

In 2021, a Living Laboratory Guardian Group was established to provide leadership and governance of the Arboretum area on campus to ensure its continued use.

Several Lincoln University courses are using the area as a Living Laboratory to offer students practical experience in a range of different subjects.

Ecology lecturer Mike Bowie says the ECOL103 course focuses primarily on Aotearoa New Zealand ecosystems, as well as their plants, animals and fungi, and teaches the concepts underpinning ecology and conservation biology.

Additionally, students from ECOL293 Field Ecology Methods, are involved in monitoring pests, birds and invertebrates around campus, including close to the Arboretum.

"This class have also been part of a predator trapping programme, using DOC 200 traps designed to kill rats, stoats and hedgehogs," Mr Bowie says. "The ecological restoration and monitoring aspects learned by these ecology students are highly desirable skills that enable them to protect and enhance threatened habitats.

"Students with these skills are highly sought-after by landcare organisations such as the Department of Conservation, Environment Canterbury and environmental consultants."

Other subject areas using the Arboretum as a Living Laboratory include landscape architecture and environmental planning.

The Living Laboratory concept involves students using resources on the Lincoln University campus to explore, test and solve real-world problems relating to the land-based sector. Research partners also take an active involvement in these activities.

Learn about our Living Laboratory projects

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