SCIENCE

Carolyn King-Lifetime Achievement Kudos Winner 2010 Carolyn King-Lifetime Achievement Kudos Winner 2010 CREDIT: Kudos Project

Decades worth of research on weasels wins lifetime award

Wednesday 29 September 2010, 7:58AM
By Kudos Project
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HAMILTON

Dr Carolyn King’s decades of science research and work have been acknowledged with her being awarded the University of Waikato Lifetime Achievement Award at last week’s Kudos Awards held in Hamilton.

The University of Waikato Lifetime Achievement Award recognises career achievements in representing a major contribution to science relevant to the Waikato region and the international profile of New Zealand.
Dr King is recognised as an international authority on all aspects of the biology of small mustelids (stoats, ferrets and weasels). “I’ve spent my life trying to understand the ecology of mustelids (weasels, stoats and ferrets), both in their native habitats in the northern hemisphere, and in New Zealand where they were deliberately introduced in the late 19th century” says Dr King.

Dr King has also broadened her studies to include rats, mice and rabbits. She developed the original version of the footprint tracking tunnels that are now routinely used to monitor stoat and rat densities on protected lands throughout New Zealand.

Her pioneering research in New Zealand’s southern beech forests and podocarp-broadleaved forest led eventually to the current Department of Conservation’s ‘Operation Ark’ project to protect threatened mohua and orange-fronted parakeets. She established the framework in which Waikato’s most well-known restoration projects, such as Maungatautari, have been undertaken.

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Dr King believes the award also pays tribute to the great team of researchers she has worked with over the years. “It is a great honour, but a collective one. No-one can do research alone, especially in field ecology where only a team of people working together can amass the amount of data needed to understand the interactions between wild animals and their environment. I’ve been greatly privileged to work with some wonderful people” she says.

Throughout the decades of her work Dr King has produced well-documented research on stoats in New Zealand, leading to many successful publications. It has always been important to Dr King that her research is of real use, and this has motivated her popular writing. One of the most read publications was the ‘The Handbook of New Zealand Mammals’, which describes all 46 mammals species that are or have been living in New Zealand. It is a book that is used and valued by many people throughout New Zealand.
Since 1991 Dr King has also been a lecturer at the University of Waikato on general zoology, with special interests in the ecology of small predators, and the philosophy and theory of evolution.

The Kudos Awards celebrated Waikato’s finest scientists and science educators at an Awards presentation and dinner evening held on the 23rd of September at Southwell Auditorium, Hamilton. The Kudos Awards recognise the region’s most innovative science research and discoveries over six categories, including agricultural, environmental, medical, science educator, emerging scientist and lifetime achievement.

The winner’s cash prizes are used develop further science and research throughout Hamilton and the Waikato region, and are sponsored by; Hamilton City Council, University of Waikato, Wintec, WEL Networks, Waikato District Health Board, Waikato Times, King Street Advertising, and Orbit Calder & Lawson. Other supporters include Plant and Food Research, McFarlane Engels & Associates, and AWIS (Association of Women in Science). -ends-