Surveying and wildlife biology are not disciplines the average person would partner together, but they are combined very successfully in the work of Otago PhD candidate Mariano Rodriguez Recio.
Mariano emigrated from Spain to New Zealand in 2007 determined to find a project which matched his lifelong passion for animals with his biology degree and his information technology experience.
His search led him to Otago's School of Surveying where he is in the last months of undertaking PhD research that he hopes will maximise the success of population control on introduced predators by improving knowledge of the animals' movements and selection of resources.
Mariano explains, “My area of research is wildlife biology and conservation. My PhD is focused on the spatial ecology of feral cats and hedgehogs in South Island braided river valleys.”
Mariano's uses lightweight GPS collars to track medium to small-size mammals such as cats and hedgehogs, and utilises the latest technology and high-resolution satellite imagery to create wildlife habitat maps.
Surveying lecturer Dr Antoni (Tony) Moore says Mariano's research is indicative of 21st century surveying, which has branched out beyond the public's perception of people with tripods mapping contours for land development. Postgraduate projects within the School extend into many disciplines including archaeology, urban design, the human relationship with the land, geographic information, hydrography and wildlife management, as well as other more traditional surveying topics such as the shape and deformation of the Earth.
“We're not just dealing with land and fixed positions anymore. Mariano's work involves attaching very small GPS devices to creatures that move fast over time and are normally hard to find.”
A holiday to New Zealand in 2000 sparked Mariano's desire to move here as a skilled migrant; Mariano has a degree in biology, specialising in zoology, from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and several years experience as a consultant in one of Spain's largest IT companies.
“When I came to New Zealand I wasn't looking for a specific university to study at — I was looking for a professional challenge that suited my interests, knowledge and expectations.”
“The School has provided me with all that I need, and its Head, Professor Brent Hall, has been very supportive.”For more information about postgraduate study in Surveying at the University of Otago visit: School of Surveying