After the completion of her summer research placement, we are very pleased to have Poppy stay with us as a research assistant on the Ngā Rākau Taketake project with our postdoc Marijke. Alongside her studies, Poppy has been busy in the lab going through the mesofauna samples collected from the various field sites in the Waitakere Ranges. Together with Grace who already has quite a bit of mesofauna identification experience under her belt, Poppy has been identifying countless mites and springtails to functional level.
At this point, they have identified over 1000 specimens (and counting). Oribatid and Mesostigmatid mites are the most commonly occuring groups of mites, and these are now quite easy to distinguish. The Prostigmatid mites are more tricky, especially because we would like to identify these further to better determine their trophic group. Once sufficiently identified, the length of each specimen is measured. This can later be converted into a biomass value. It is very exciting to see the mesofauna dataset getting built!