To date, only New Zealand has compiled a checklist of its entire living and fossil biota. Approximately 52% of this country’s species are endemic – found only in New Zealand’s freshwater, marine, and land environments. We have a responsibility to the global community to preserve this unique heritage or taonga. But further than that, all of our species – including many of the naturalised aliens included in the survey – are important to New Zealand’s economy, ecology and well-being. Written for the advanced high-school and tertiary-level reader, the New Zealand Inventory of Biodiversity is also intended to be a kind of ‘Cooks Tour’ of the kingdoms and phyla of life that will, it is hoped, provide an appreciation of the wondrous diversity of nature.
These volumes are affiliated with Species 2000, an international scientific project with the long-term goal of enumerating all known species on Earth into one seamless list – the Catalogue of Life, a kind of online telephone directory.
Dr Dennis Gordon FLS is a Principal Scientist at the National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA), where he led a marine biodiversity research group for 13 years. Dennis serves on the international teams that are respectively co-ordinating the production of the Catalogue of Life and the World Register of Marine Species. He is a past chairman of the Royal Society of New Zealand Committee on Biodiversity. In 2005 he was recipient of the prestigious New Zealand Marine Sciences Society Award for his lifetime contribution to the advancement of marine science in New Zealand.