The Brian Mason Scientific & Technical Trust fund a wide range of projects through out the community from educational exhibitions to scientific studies. Detailed below are a number of institutions and programs that the Brain Mason Scientific & Technical Trust have given to.
Here are some projects the Trust has supported:
How do Lichens Get Around?
Lichens are a cryptic group of organisms that are in fact a symbiosis between a fungus and an alga (or sometimes a cyanobacterium, or even all three). Although lichens appear quickly when a suitable empty area becomes available, little is known about how they move around.
Recent work on lichens in New Zealand and elsewhere suggests that they may not be able to disperse very far, with some being slow to colonise new areas, even 1km away.
Fish in the Forest
The brown mudfish lives in ephemeral pools in West Coast forests, not the kind of place you’d normally expect to find a fish. These pools are very difficult environments to live in, being low in oxygen and high in acidity, conditions known to be deleterious to most fish species. Intriguingly, the brown mudfish can even exist out of water, living in moist forest soils for months at a time when these pools dry out.
From beach to peat, soils in the Haast dune sequence
A Lincoln University PhD student carried out a project between 2009 and 2011 looking at the development of soils in the Haast area.
Primate Evolution – a learning experience
Orana Wildlife Park bought a set of 16 replica primate and hominid skulls with assistance from the Brian Mason Trust. These skulls are now being used by secondary school Biology students as tools in their study of primate characteristics and human evolution.
Sports Alive, an interactive exhibition developed by Science Alive!, provided a fun way for visitors to explore the science and technology behind popular sports.
The BioBlitz at Lincoln’s Liffey Stream, organised by The Lincoln Envirotown Trust, found an amazing 1642 different kinds of life, almost half of them species of bacteria. That’s a lot of things for a small stretch of stream side in a small rural town. They included many surprises, including a native flatworm that had not been recorded in over a hundred years, a European fungus of acorns never before collected in New Zealand, a Banks Peninsula endemic spider usually found in forests, and two unidentified endemic earthworms.
Conserving the New Zealand Falcon
In 2005, a scheme aimed at conserving the threatened New Zealand falcon was established in Marlborough. The scheme translocates falcon chicks from their nests in the mountains, and into the vineyard dominated valleys, where it was assumed falcons would thrive. It was also thought the falcons would benefit the vineyards by acting as a natural form of pest control against the birds that cause millions of dollars worth of grape damage each year.
The Brian Mason Scientific and Technical Trust has provided a grant to University of Canterbury researchers which is being used to assess the efficacy of this scheme as both a conservation and pest management regime. This research includes monitoring the behaviour of nesting falcons using remote videography, conducting observations of juvenile falcons, testing nest predation rates, conducting pest-bird abundance surveys, and collecting data on the levels of grape damage in vineyards with and without falcons.
Communication and Cognition in Kea
In this project we seek to investigate kea cleverness using field-based methods and in the absence of anthropocentric assumptions that often affect the design of lab-based cognition studies. Lab-based cognition studies on kea consistently find that these animals are unusually intelligent, but similar studies in the field fail to replicate these results- perhaps as a consequence of experiments not actually testing kea cognitive ability as expressed in nature. Many clever animals use complex forms of communication in social groups.