Natural Sciences Conference Papers

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    Leptospirosis and hookworm in dogs of Tonga
    (2023-07) Naden, Kristina; Harder, Kate; Unitec, Te Pūkenga
    Leptospirosis study in Tongatapu (Dec 2018) Canine endoparasite presence in Tongatapu (Dec 2019) Why is this research important to the Tongan community? References
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    Popularity and public perceptions of companion animal content on Instagram
    (2023-06-21) Reveentharan, S.; Kemp, Caralyn; Unitec, Te Pūkenga; Te Pūkenga
    The use of animals in social media as photo props is a concern, as these animals are often anthropomorphised. Anthropomorphism can contribute to negative welfare through a misunderstanding of an animal’s behaviour and needs, leading to inappropriate handling and care. To date, limited research on the portrayal of animals on social media has focused on wild animals. This research has found concerning trends that species were viewed as not threatened and individual animals as tame and easily kept as pets because of their representation in ananthropomorphic setting. To our knowledge, a similar evaluation has not been conducted for companion animal content on social media. This study investigated the photographic portrayal and content of companion animals, both domestic and exotic pets, and their reception on public Instagram accounts. A systematic search of dog (Canis lupus familiaris ), cat (Felis catus ), rabbit ( Oryctolagus cuniculus domesticus ), guinea pig (Cavia porcellus), parrot (var. spp.), chinchilla ( Chinchilla lanigera ) and reptile (var. spp.) public accounts was conducted to select pseudorandomized ten of each. Five accounts from each species were chosen for having predominantly anthropomorphised posts, with the other five showing more natural settings and behaviours. A random selection of ten posts from each account was then selected and assessed for their content (anthropomorphic or natural portrayal), popularity (number of likes/comments) and comments. Results found that overall anthropomorphic content was significantly more popular than naturalistic content, as indicated by the number of ‘likes’ on each post, (mean 331.01 and 234.70 ‘likes’, respectively), although there were species-specific differences. In particular, anthropomorphic content was particularly more popular in the case of dog and, concerningly, reptile accounts (mean 411.24 likes for anthropomorphic reptile content versus 201.28 likes for natural reptile content). Comments showed the same trend. Interestingly, there were similar public attitudes towards both anthropomorphic and naturalistic content, with comments being predominantly encouraging. Using animals to promote products was also more popular in anthropomorphised imagery. With exotic pet (i.e. reptiles) ownership on the rise, and knowledge of their needs and behaviour limited, the popularity and lack of awareness anthropomorphised posts are concerning as it increases the potential for undiagnosed stress. This study suggests a need for concern regarding companion animal content on Instagram. Social media organisations must carefully manage the potentially harmful animal imagery associated with anthropomorphism, as it may impact animal welfare and behaviour
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    Phylogenetic and morphological differentiation between subspecies of New Zealand red admiral butterfly Vanessa gonerilla Alfken (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae)
    (2022-10-27) Parkinson, Adam; Wells, Sarah
    Subspecies are taxonomic units used to formally describe intraspecific geographic variation in morphological markers, yet without thorough assessment, these morphological markers can be highly subjective. The accepted demarcation of Vanessa gonerilla is V. gonerilla gonerilla, widespread throughout the North and South Island of New Zealand, as well as some nearby offshore islands, and V. gonerilla ida, found only on the Chatham Islands. The taxonomic split of V. gonerilla is based upon evidence of colour variation and scalloping indentations between the veins on the hindwings. This study aims to provide taxonomic clarity using a combination of phylogenetic analysis to support the existence of a single or two closely related, but differentiated, mitochondrial lineages, and morphological markers in identifying hindwing variation as a quantifiable characteristic.
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    Searching for fungal mycoherbicides effective against climbing asparagus (Asparagus scandens) in New Zealand
    (2022-08) Tang, Tianyi; Blanchon, Dan; Bell-Butler, P.; Waipara, N.; Fisher, L.; Cox, H.; Unitec Institute of Technology; Auckland Council; New Zealand. Plant & Food Research
    Climbing asparagus (Asparagus scandens) is an invasive species in New Zealand and is known to cover forest floors, inhibiting the growth of native plants. Conventional chemical control strategies might threaten nearby native species due to their non-selective features, making the use of biological control methods attractive. In this study, we surveyed A. scandens across New Zealand for potential disease symptoms and isolated potentially pathogenic fungi. A large variety of fungal species were recovered from A. scandens specimens. All fungal isolates were identified by DNA sequencing, cultured in a laboratory, and inoculated onto A. scandens samples in vitro. Multiple fungal isolates were also tested in planta by inoculation. Alternaria sp., Pestalotiopsis sp., Fusarium acuminatum, Colletotrichum spp., Neofusicoccum parvum, Hendersonia culmiseda are among the most pathogenic strains in vitro; Neofusicoccum sp., and Colletotrichum sp. the two most pathogenic strains in planta. Treated plant samples expressed discolouration, black or brown spots and visible fungal hyphae as symptoms both in vitro and in planta. This study will continue to evaluate the pathogenicity of promising fungal isolates against A. scandens in planta at a larger scale and explore the potential of mycoherbicides in New Zealand in application.
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    Environmental exposure to asbestos: Assessing and managing risks for New Zealand
    (2023-03-01) Berry, Terri-Ann; Metcalfe, L.; Steinhorn, Gregor; Low, Joanne; Wallis, Shannon; Blanchon, Dan; Unitec, Te Pūkenga; Environmental Solutions Research Centre (Unitec, Te Pūkenga); Te Pūkenga
    Asbestos related sisease: a global picture Mesothelioma Mesothelioma trends - global Exposure pathways - occupational Changing risk Exposure pathways – other routes Raising awareness MSAA Trust Leonie's story Research RA1: Risk hotspots and emergency planning RA1: Risk predictions and emergency planning RA2: Bioremediation for contaminated soils Asbestos as a carcinogen Why fungi? Bioremediation design RA2: Bioremediation research RA3: Asbestos awareness & monitoring