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Key priorities for the future of marine science in NZ

The NZ marine science community came together recently to collaboratively identify the top ten priority research questions for the future of marine science in New Zealand across nine themes:

  1. fisheries and aquaculture,
  2. biosecurity,
  3. climate change,
  4. marine reserves and protected areas,
  5. ecosystems and biodiversity,
  6. policy and decision-making,
  7. marine guardianship (kaitiakitanga),
  8. coastal and ocean processes, and
  9. other anthropogenic factors.

These priority questions can be used to develop new areas of research, complement existing marine science activities, and encourage new opportunities for collaboration. In doing so, these questions can be used to bridge significant knowledge gaps and provide important new insights that will support the country’s progress towards effective marine conservation and management to deliver greater environmental, social, economic, and cultural benefits for the future of NZ seas and society.

You can access the paper and policy brief here:

1. Paper: Key priorities for the future of marine science in New Zealand

2. Policy Brief

Sydney golden wattle targeted by bio-control agents

Photo: John Smith-Dodsworth/NZ Plant Conservation NetworkPhoto: John Smith-Dodsworth/NZ Plant Conservation NetworkLandcare Research/Manaaki Whenua reported on the potential release of bio-control agents to combat the invasive Sydney golden wattle (Acacia longifolia), in their recent newsletter Weed Biocontrol. This shrub/small tree is weedy in Northland, north of Auckland, the Bay of Plenty, Whanganui and Levin. At the latter two locations they invade the coastal dunes.

Sydney golden wattle is also a weed in Portugal and South Africa. Two bio-control agents were released in South Africa in the 1980s to combat the weed. These two, the gall-forming wasp (Trichilogaster acaciaelongifoliae) and seed-feeding weevil (Melanterius ventralis) proved highly effective and are now being considered for release in New Zealand.

If approval to release these agents in New Zealand is granted by the EPA, it is anticipated that both agents will be imported into containment late next year and released shortly thereafter.

Read the full story on page 6 of the newsletter.

2019 CRT Scholarship recipient determined to overcome challenges

Boonyanuj (TK) Yukate is the recipient of this year’s CRT Scholarship and already presented a short overview of her planned studies at our conference in Warkworth. Here is an update of her research in her own words:

I want to begin by thanking the Coastal Restoration Trust for awarding me the postgraduate study award for 2019. I enjoyed meeting the trustees at the 2019 conference in Warkworth and wish to thank you all for being so friendly and welcoming.

Many of you will have already heard about my study during my presentation at the conference but to quickly recap, my Master’s research at Lincoln University is focused on increasing the understanding of how coastal wetlands, particularly salt marshes, are responding to the impact of sea level rise. There is extensive research on the Avon-Heathcote Estuary dating as far back as 1971, but I want to accumulate and compare the more “recent” pre- and post-earthquake studies. I tried to repeat past vegetation survey, particularly in the northern area of the estuary due to the subsidence occurring after the earthquake, which mimics sudden sea level rise. In order to compare and differentiate the changes between earthquake land movements being distinct to sea level rise, I needed to be able to find previous survey sites from two specific authors accurately. Surprisingly, on my quest in searching for these datasets, I ended down a rabbit hole. The survey datasets had not been published, nor retained by supervisors and funders, and any contact details lost. This detective work will now be documented in a chapter of my research regarding the need for data sharing in ecology. If this ecology research pathway does not work out, my supervisor says I have a promising career as a private detective.

On to my research. Casually observing the area it is evident that there has been a significant change to the vegetation post-earthquake. So far from my fieldwork, I have been noticing a decrease of salt marsh vegetation in areas that have experienced subsidence (or sudden ‘sea level rise’). However, I cannot just attribute this only to the subsidence and must try to understand the hydrology, salinity and various other factors influencing the community. I also want to try and understand whether salt marsh vegetation would be able to retreat landwards naturally without assistance. My focus site is in the Bexley red zone. I have completed transects with plot surveys in the area to try and see if I would be able to capture any salt marsh vegetation. I have completed all my fieldwork, and I am currently analysing my results.

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"Overwhelmed" by environment win

You might have read about this before: Pat La Roche being presented our highest Pingao & Toheroa Trophy. Here is a recent article from the Western Leader which expresses some of Pat’s feelings about being recognised in this way.

If you click on it it will enlarge and then you should be able to read it easily.