The expression "If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it" might have been written with Dr Ian Boothroyd in mind. He's a frequent lecturer, panellist and conference presenter; and has co-authored many national standards for freshwater and biodiversity management, but that's just the beginning.
Ecologist Katherine Muchna says, “I’ve worked with Ian for over 16 years, and the thing that has always struck me is that he is as likely to be found chest-deep in a stream sampling invertebrates, as he is listening to an obscure band at a pub gig, or as a Commissioner in an Environment Court hearing.”
Ian’s interest in all things aquatic began in his hometown of Teignmouth and the rivers of Dartmoor. “I always had a great love of wild animals. I was totally inspired when, on a school field trip, a wild European otter swam past; at that time an extremely rare and threatened animal,” he says.
After studying freshwater ecology at the University of Wales, Ian won a Scholarship to research his PhD at the University of Waikato; and his interest in environmental monitoring led to an unexpected, but enduring, fascination.
“I was persuaded to research how midges might be good indicators of environmental damage; and soon realised how little we know about this group of insects in New Zealand,” he recalls.
“These fascinating little creatures have adapted and diversified into almost every aquatic habitat available, and my searches for them have taken me from geothermal springs to the surface of glaciers. I’ve had the good fortune to visit several countries with midges as a purpose and I now have friends all over the world who share my passion.”
As a mentor for the Auckland ecologists and biosecurity consultants, Kat Muchna says, “Ian has cultivated a team that’s more like a quirky family. We celebrate everyone’s achievements both in and out of work… and usually with a beer.”
Daniel Ahern recalls an expedition with Ian: “We were on the Karikari peninsula taking water samples on an artificial lake. In typical ecological fashion, we pulled together bits and pieces of equipment and tooted out in a little inflatable and 2.2hp motor. We worked our way around the lake on a perfect day in the winterless north. But the real pleasure of being on the job with Ian was that instead of staying in the Top 10 holiday park, as we usually would, the golf resort we were working for treated us to onsite accommodation!”
“Each one is a different group of people facing different challenges,” Ian explains. “And as you gain more experience, the more you can give back to the sector. We sometimes forget that the environment includes people, and we are all in this together.”
Outside of working hours, along with two-wheeled pursuits — road bikes and motorcycles — refereeing soccer games, being a ‘horse dad’ and climbing maunga with his family, Ian’s passion for live music is well-known. Given his all-encompassing enthusiasm it’s not really surprising that late-70s Joy Division and mid-90s Shirley Bassey both appear on his “Greatest Gigs I’ve Seen” list; as does Pink Floyd’s 1974 Dark Side of the Moon tour.
And there’s one more thing keeping him busy: “I’ve got a shed filled with midge specimens that will take me well into retirement to sort!”
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14 October 2019