The ecosanctuary is a great place for researchers to study species in a natural environment free from predators. As a living laboratory the Ecosanctuary is ideal for researching areas such as the reintroduction of species, the breeding of rare species and how an ecosystem alters once pest have been removed.
Researchers from the University of Otago and the Department of Conservation work closely with Orokonui Ecosanctuary staff. The Ecosanctuary is only a short drive from Dunedin's renowned research institutions, so is much more accessible than offshore islands or isolated mountains.
Current research areas include:
Tieke (South Island saddleback): A Masters student has been monitoring the success of the saddleback translocation from initial release in April 2009 through the first breeding season.
Toutouwai (South Island robin): A team has been undertaking the monitoring of wild robin populations in the Silverpeaks and Silverstream areas to assess population dynamics. A masters student will monitor the release and breeding success of robins after their translocation into the Ecosanctuary in autumn.
South Island Kaka: A PhD student attached GPS units to all Orokonui kaka at the end of 2009. This technology will record the precise location of each bird 4 times a day to assess dispersal and habitat utilisation.
Tuatara: Close monitoring of juvenile tuatara at Orokonui is evaluating how well they are adjusting to the Dunedin climate and determining the best strategy for a possible free release of these animals at the Ecosanctuary.