By the time he was 16, Michael Koeppel had spent two years researching the natural world of northern New Zealand, and had become fascinated with it.
“I was thinking about all the plants and animals that were there, and the ways in which we use them,” he says.
“And it was very clear to me that I wanted to be a scientist.”
So he went to university, then went to work as a research scientist at the University of Auckland.
But by the time Koeppel graduated in 2000, he was working on a different project.
His research focused on the health and sustainability of grasslands.
And in 2001, Koeppe became the first person to have his work published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Koepper has been a contributor to Nature since 2003.
He now spends his time writing articles and presenting his work at conferences.
“It’s always been an interest in grasslands,” he explains.
“My interest in them was sparked by a childhood of seeing the impact of our environment on the ecology of our species.”
His fascination with the environment came at a time when New Zealand was experiencing its worst drought in 40 years, and he noticed that the species he was studying was showing signs of being in trouble.
The problem was not just a drought, but a serious decline in grassland biodiversity.
“In my first decade of field work, I saw a significant increase in the number of species being removed from grasslands, and they were just disappearing,” he recalls.
“They were disappearing because of habitat destruction and pollution.”
Koeppers research found that species in the grassland ecosystems were being taken from their natural habitats in a way that would cause them to suffer and eventually die.
“That was my first thought, that they weren’t doing it for the health of the grasslands themselves,” he said.
“So I started to look at other factors.
One area of research was the impact that the introduction of new species had on ecosystems. “
People are really good at seeing the big picture, and I’m interested in understanding what is happening to the environment and what’s causing that.”
One area of research was the impact that the introduction of new species had on ecosystems.
“We have introduced a lot of species into the grass land ecosystem, and it’s very clear that the impacts are being negative,” Koeppo says.
In other words, the grasses and plants in the landscape are being removed to make way for more of the same.
Koespella’s findings led him to an idea: “What if we could look at how species are going to respond to changes in their habitats?”
He began researching species in a different ecosystem, one where he saw changes in how grasslands responded to climate change.
This new field of research helped him understand how different species responded to the changes in the climate.
“For me, it was really interesting to think about how these animals were adapting to these changes,” Koespen says.
The species that were most affected by climate change were the large herbivores such as grasshoppers, which had adapted to climate changing habitats, but were also losing habitat to other species.
“The biggest threats for these species are changes in habitat, and changing climate, so they were probably the most affected,” Kroeppe says.
When he began studying the impact climate change had on the ecosystem, he noticed a shift in species.
He noticed that some species were moving north and were more tolerant to climate changes.
For example, the giant grasshopper, which is one of the largest herbivore species in New Zealand and is considered one of New Zealand’s best grazers, had adapted, to cope with changing climate conditions.
Kroeppels research led him on a journey that led him back to the grass landscape, to where he discovered that many of the species that had been moved to the north were still there, albeit less abundant.
Kopeckles work in this field is currently being funded by the Department of Conservation.
“What we’re trying to do is to understand how species will adapt to climate conditions and what they’re going to do to adapt to changes to their habitats,” Kopeppels explains.
His work also includes analysing the impact on biodiversity of climate change on species that have adapted to the changing climate.
KOEppels work in the field is supported by a grant from the Ministry of Environment and Land Conservation.
Kopes research is conducted in collaboration with the Department for Primary Industries, Land and Environment.
It is funded by a research grant from Natural Resources New Zealand.
“Natural resources and biodiversity are important to New Zealand,” Kosek said.
New Zealand is home to more than 100 species of plants and invertebrates, including over 50 species of birds and 30 species of mammals, and over 90 species of fish.
And biodiversity in New York State is one the largest in the world.
It includes more than 3,000 plant species, 1