Landscape for life - An investigation of opportunities for aesthetic improvement and biodiversity enhancement for living roofs in New Zealand

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Authors
Davies, Renee
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Date
2010
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Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Keyword
living roofs
biodiversity
lizards
URC Research Report
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Citation
Davies, R. (2010). Landscape for life - An investigation of opportunities for aesthetic improvement and biodiversity enhancement for living roofs in New Zealand [unpublished Unitec Research Committee Research Report].
Abstract
Living roofs offer an opportunity to bring conservation into a contemporary context integrated within urban landscapes. Once neglected and under-utilized roof landscapes can now become biodiverse enclaves of indigenous flora and fauna. The microhabitat variables required for lizards, including temperature, humidity, refuge/shelter and prey, on New Zealand’s first fully indigenous extensive living roof have been studied over three years. Temperature and humidity data from a known lizard site has been used to assess the suitability of the living roof in conjunction with a comparison of insects monitored on the living roof and a literature review of lizard diet. This data has provided the research team (an interdisciplinary team of ecologists, landscape architects and product designers) with the parameters needed to develop, prototype and field-test a prosthetic habitat that provides enhanced conditions on the living roof for lizards. Results from stage 1 indicate a New Zealand indigenous extensive living roof plant community can provide the basic microhabitat variables required to support lizards with the exception of humidity. Although existing vegetation will provide refuge from predators and modifies temperature and humidity, the designed prosthetic habitat creates humid micro-sites (refuges), allowing a trial translocation of native skinks. The results of stage 1 have are now providing a solid basis for stage 2 of the research which has met with Department of Conservation approval in principle (meeting held in February), for the progression to a permit for a trial relocation of skinks onto the living roof. Project highlights: Working with product design researchers and students to brainstorm the prosthetic habitat concept. Feedback from International conference which confirmed some of our preliminary results on living roof environmental conditions and emphasised the International relevance of the research. A field visit to Shakespear Regional Park where the prosthetic habitats were put into the field and seeing evidence of lizard use of the habitats.
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Renee Davies
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