Monday, 13 July 2020

Coastal tectonics and habitat squeeze

The Canterbury earthquakes provided a rare opportunity to observe the actual effects of a sea-level rise event. 

We're pleased to announce publication of a new paper in the international journal Natural Hazards
that is the first chapter of the 'Resilient Shorelines' Ph.D. 

Use the link below to access of free read-only copy of the full text:

This study explores the impacts of hydrological changes resulting from tectonic ground movement in low-lying coastal environments, and draws anologies with future climate change effects. 
In this paper we describe landscape-scale changes, and assess interactions with human land-use patterns and disaster recovery responses that include a large scale managed retreat. The results illustrate mechanisms by which 'coastal squeeze' effects may occur with sea-level rise - and also ways to avoid them through innovative planning and design.  

Principles identifiable from the actual impacts in this case provide useful insights for other situations of sea-level rise. We highlight the need for an improved focus on whole-system resilience in responding to sea-level changes, and the importance of disaster recovery processes for adaptation to climate change.

Look out for a companion paper (currently in review) that evaluates impacts on coastal vegetation and consequences for conserving important ecosystems over time.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Te Tiaki Inanga project with Department of Conservation

It was fantastic to see some of our work communicated in the new Department of Conservation brochure on using straw bales as temporary īnanga spawning habitat

This project was a truly a collaborative effort thanks to Helen Kettles in the National Estuaries team (thanks Helen!)The team included Helen Kettles, Martin Rutledge, Leana Barriball, Sarah Wilcox, Peter Badalamenti and Laurence Walls (DOC), Pātaka Moore and Caleb Royal (Te Wānanga o Raukawa), and Mike Hickford and myself from the University of Canterbury.

Our kaupapa included piloting a draft version of the resource with several community groups across New Zealand, and their feedback added extra value to the finsihed result. Some of the key people and groups involved were Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngā Mokopuna (Te Whanganui a Tara), Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Rito (Ōtaki), Te Kura a Iwi o Whakatupuranga Rua Mano (Ōtaki), Brooke Ashleigh Turner (DOC, Living Waters) and Jason Roxburgh (Living Matters – Biodiversity & Ecology Solutions), Grant and Rosemary Webby (Waiwhetu Stream Care), Henk Stengs (DOC) and the Cobden Aromahana Ecological Restoration Group.

We were also fortunate to have specialist expertise and advice for preparing a Te Reo translation and whakapapa design thanks to Ruiha Leonard and Sian Montgomery-Neutze.

Check out the Te Reo Māori and English versions of the Te Tiaki Īnanga brochure here:

Read more about the Te Tiaki Īnanga project on the DOC website here
This was an awesome project and we hope it will assist other community restoration groups interested in using this technique.

He iti te mokoroa nāna te kahikatea i kakati
Even the small can make a big impact!

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Inanga ora ki te awa o Waitara

It's been great working on this project with Waitara Alive and the Ōtaraua Hapū along with Waitara High School students to better understand the health of whitebait spawning sites along the Waitara River. 
The project is comparing present day spawning site health and abundance to historical evidence collected from local kaumatua. By contrasting past with present, the Inanga Ora project team hope to identify how spawning habitat is changing, and what can be done to better protect it.

The project was funded by the 'Curious Minds' He Hihiri I Te Mahara. Participatory Science Platform.
Check out a recent update from the Venture Taranaki here

Monday, 11 June 2018

Earthquakes cause re-positioning of spawning habitat on a catchment scale

The story of how whitebait spawning sites shifted to new areas after the Canterbury earthquakes - and became exposed to new vulnerabilities.
This spatial ecology study reveals how and where we can take action to protect them.

Read more here

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Using artificial habitats as a natural habitat detection tool

We have a new paper published in the journal Ecological Indicators that describes the science behind using artificial habitats (such as straw bales) to as a detection tool. We used this appraoch to help identify īnanga spawning habitat in degraded waterways where egg mortality can make it difficult to find the eggs directly. Unfortunately, this is fairly common and the rate of eggs literally 'disappearing' can be surprisingly high.
This also shows that having good quality habitat available is a key factor in overall spawning success.

Read more here

Monday, 6 November 2017

New methods paper - Census survey approach for īnanga spawning habitat

Waterways and MERG have recently published details of a survey methodology for locating and mapping īnanga spawning sites near coastal rivermouths. 

Read more here.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Evaluation of Christchurch City Council's riparian management trial

Christchurch City Council (CCC) recently changed its riparian vegetation clearance practices for a trial period in the summer of 2016/17. While the trial has wider objectives around improved environmental outcomes, īnanga spawning habitat is directly affected by bank cutting and other forms of vegetation clearance. A survey of īnanga (Galaxias maculatus) spawning habitat was completed in April 2017 to evaluate effects of the trial.

Benefits of the trial included increasing the availability of high quality spawning habitat and the discovery of new spawning sites. The Avon/Ōtākaro supported a relatively high area of occupation (AOO) of spawning sites for a single month in comparison to other years. In the Heathcote/Ōpāwaho spawning was found at new sites including upstream of Opawa Road. However, egg production was relatively low in the Heathcote/Ōpāwaho versus the same month in previous years. This suggests a shift in the month of peak spawning activity or a possible adult population decline and requires consecutive month surveys to confirm the actual trend.

The full report is available on the CCC website here:
Response of īnanga spawning habitat to riparian vegetation management

Monday, 19 June 2017

Floodplain planning - a case study on regeneration oppportunities in a post-disaster setting

We're pleased to announce the findings of a three-part study on ecological 'regeneration' opportunities for the red-zoned lands in Avon / Ōtākaro river corridor. The study was supported by Avon-Ōtākaro Network in collaboration with Avon-Ōtākaro Forest Park and Greening the Red Zone.

This study provides an analysis of considerations for land-use planning (including sea level rise), with a focus on opportunities for ecological restoration and building resilience to climate change.

Monday, 12 June 2017

NZ's largest known area of inanga spawning found in Christchurch waterways!

An unexpected result of our earthquake studies was the discovery that  īnanga spawning habitat had expanded, and was more extensive than ever previously recorded in Christchurch's waterways.

Further surveys in 2016 found that even larger areas were being used. The total area of spawning was around 2x
the next largest area recorded anywhere in New Zealand !


Monday, 5 June 2017

New spawning sites found in Aromahana Lagoon in Greymouth

Dr. Mike Hickford and I recently visited an community restoration project on Cobden Island in the Grey River and nearby Aromahana Lagoon. Our main goal was to scope out a survey strategy for monitoring īnanga spawning in this area. Time was short but we did manage to find two new spawning sites. 

This is an innovative floodplain restoration project on an impressive scale. Thanks to Henk Stengs at DOC for showing us around!


Tuesday, 3 January 2017

New Zealand Coastal Society award

Thanks to the New Zealand Coastal Society for the Best Overall Presentation prize at the 2016 New Zealand Coastal Society conference He Waka Eke Noa: Linking Science, Engineering, Management and Community. I was completely taken by surprise given the many excellent speakers!

The conference is held each year and attracts diverse attendance from scientists, engineers, and planners, with presentation covering a wide range of contemporary management topics.


Thursday, 17 November 2016

Spawning habitat maps for Ōtautahi waterways

These maps show results from two years of spawning site surveys plus two years of straw bale experiments in the waterways of Ōtautahi Christchurch. Compare them with the Whaka Inaka maps where we took all of the known sites at the end of 2015 and tested if there might be others both in the gaps and further upstream/downstream. And yes there were.
These maps are available as free downloads. There's some other maps available too ..
check them out here

Friday, 4 November 2016

Resilience research on whitebait featured in UC Chronicle

The September 2016 issue of the Chronicle He Kupu Whakamahara ran a story on our research into the resilience of whitebait spawning sites in Ōtautahi Christchurch following the earthquakes.

Follow the link here to the article online

Some recent publications relating to this work:

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Workshop on coastal & marine citizen science

                   Link to the full report here

I teamed up with Helen Kettles (DOC) to run a workshop on Coastal & Marine Citizen Science in New Zealand as a side event for the NZ Marine Sciences Society (NZMSS) and Australian Marine Sciences Association (AMSA) 2016 conference in Wellington. This was a first meeting specific to coastal and marine citizen science in New Zealand. A group of 29 participants attended and there was a strong Australian contingent which added a welcome dimension to the conversation.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Using citizen science for coastal data collection

Citizen science has come of age in New Zealand and there are a wide range of opportunities for coastal scientists and practitioners to make use of, or contribute to it.

This recent article in Coastal News provides an overview of some recent highlights and progress in this fast moving field.


Thursday, 30 June 2016

Case study on community-led restoration projects and climate change

A case study of three coastal restoration projects looking at community-led approaches and climate change is in the new publication "Adapting to the consequences of climate change: Engaging with communities".

Link to the article here "Community-led approaches and climate change: Perspectives from coastal restoration projects"

The aim of this new NZCS publication is to support work with communities as they adapt to the consequences of climate change. It has been written to assist coastal professionals, decision-makers and communities in preparing for sea-level rise and the associated effects of climate change.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Ngāi Tahu Research Centre seminar: earthquake recovery in Ōtautahi Christchurch watwerways

Results from our research into the effects of the Canterbury earthquakes on īnanga spawning sites in the Avon Heathcote Estuary / Ihutai catchment in Ōtautahi Christchurch. It's a story of the resilience and recovery of an iconic New Zealand species following a major disturbance. Thanks to the Ngāi Tahu Research Centre and UC Audio Visual unit the recent seminar was videoed. View the clip on U-tube here.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

IPENZ Rivers Group report on earthquake effects

The Waterways Centre for Freshwater Research and the Marine Ecology Research Group are pleased to provide a new report on the distribution of īnanga spawning sites in Ōtautahi Christchurch. Highlights include comprehensive information on changes in relation to the Canterbury earthquakes, and a summary of the key implications for waterways management.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Comparative study of coastal hydrosystems

Over the 2016 summer we are surveying eight coastal hydrosystems for a comparative study. Four study sites are in Canterbury and four on the West Coast. The study sites have been chosen to represent a range of different rivermouth and estuarine environments and a wide range of data are being collected to characterise each site in ecosystem terms. Look out for more news from these surveys in the coming months.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

2015 hottest year on record?

This recent information from NOAA is worth a look. It that shows very warm global conditions have prevailed since January.

Read more about the trend versus historical averages on the Think Progress site here.

And some recent comment on the 10 things you need to know about climate change with implications for New Zealand.

There's a lot going on in the lead-up to the COP21 climate change summit in Paris ... watch this space!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Te Karere Interview: Ngāi Tahu team up with scientists for whitebait restoration project

Following the announcement of funding from the DOC Community Fund Te Karere TVNZ reporters interviewed the Whaka Inaka project team (including Shelley McMurtrie (project lead), Te Marino Lenihan (project partner) and Shane Orchard (project partner) to find out more about the collaboration between Ngai Tahu and Christchurch scientists.
Watch the news video here

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Whaka Inaka project gaining media attention

Whaka Inaka: Causing Whitebait is a joint collaboration between EOS Ecology, Ngāi Tahu, and the University of Canterbury (UC). We recently receiving funding from the Department of Conservation Community Fund, and together with support from Brian Mason Trust, and businesses such as Ravensdown the project is getting underway!

Friday, 11 September 2015

Coastal Restoration Trust award

A big thank you to the Dunes Trust  for adding their support to our to our dune management case study.

Visit for more information on conservation and restoration New Zealand’s dune ecosystems.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Collaboration with NIWA to develop salinity models

The Resilient Shorelines team would like to thank the Brian Mason Scientific & Technical Trust and also NIWA for bringing their support to this exciting research.

An interesting though unexpected finding of this work was the discovery of a leak in the Woolston Tidal Barrage. The model calibration was excellent in the lower estuary and in the Avon / Ōtākaro. However there was a strong  anomaly between the modelled versus observed salinity datasets for the Heathcote / Ōpāwaho that have been influenced by the tidal barrage leakage. Read more about it here in the Brian Mason Trust report on 'Development of a fine-scale salinity model for the Avon Heathcote Estuary Ihutai'.

Read more here

Friday, 10 July 2015

Earthquakes cause a shift in the location of īnanga spawning sites

One of the main objectives for our whitebait conservation study was to determine if the earthquakes had altered the location of spawning sites for īnanga (Galaxias maculatus) for spawning. They are typically found in specific locations near the freshwater-saltwater interface at rivermouths. As such, īnanga spawning sites are potentially a very good indicator of change. Conversely, they may be especially vulnerable to changes that affect the availability or condition of suitable habitat.

And the answer is - yes, there has been a major shift in the location of spawning compared to all previous records!

Read more here

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