Statistics and the Environment - Whales and Rats

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Statistics and the Environment

Whales and Rats

Term 2 2008

Department of Mathematics, 38 Princes Street, Auckland CBD



Tuesday evenings: 13, 20, 27 May and 3 June (6:15pm to 8:15pm with a short break for pizza)


Seminar Room 222, 38 Princes Street, 2nd floor (Science Centre - Building 303).

Workshop One Tuesday 13th May and Workshop Two Tuesday 20th May, 6:15 pm – 8:15 pm

Conservationists are very interested in whether the southern right whales observed calving in the subantarctic Auckland Islands are all genuinely ‘Auckland Island whales’, or whether there is a second group of whales that pass through the islands on their way to somewhere unknown. We will see how to develop a model that may explain the observational data. Answers to these questions are crucial in the management of whales. Rachel will explain how some of the same mathematics can be used in the detection of tax fraud!

Workshop Three Tuesday 27th May and Workshop Four Tuesday 3rd June, 6:15 pm – 8:15 pm

Islands like Tiritiri Matangi are the only places where New Zealand native birds are safe from predators. Eradicating rats, and other bird-eating creatures, from islands is a very costly process. Before eradicating rats, the Department of Conservation needs to know whether the island is likely to be reinfested. Rachel will show us how statistics is being used to solve this and similar problems. Some of the research from this project has been dramatised in a children’s book – Razza the Rat – by Witi Ihimaera and featured in the National Geographic

Invited speaker(s)

Dr Rachel Fewster (Statistics) will lead a series of four workshops on developing and using statistical methods to answer questions about the behaviour of two very different creatures – whales and rats.


All interested teachers of Mathematics - or people who are interested in teaching and learning mathematics.


Contact Dr Judy Paterson to enrol for the workshop or to be put on the direct mailing list or call 3737599 ext 88605.

Follow this link for more details on this workshop.


Judy Paterson

Announce this event on the main Mathematics webpage
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