Archive January 2013

Why measure carbon budgets in NZ peat wetlands? Waiology Jan 31


By Dave Campbell

In 1769 Captain James Cook’s Endeavour anchored at the mouth of the Waihou River near the present-day town of Thames. Cook’s naturalist, Joseph Banks, was impressed by the evident resources within the vast swamp forest that covered the lower Hauraki Plains:

…The Noble timber, of which there is such an abundance, would furnish plenty of materials either for building defences, houses or Vessels.

…Swamps which might doubtless Easily be drained, and sufficiently evinced the richness of their soils by the great size of the plants that grew upon them, and more particularly of the timber trees which were the streightest (sic), cleanest, and I may say the largest I have ever seen…

Aerial view of the south eastern portion of Kopuatai bog, Mt Te Aroha in the distance. In the foreground is Empodisma robustum rush-land, the red-tinged vegetation in middle distance is the world’s largest remaining stand of Sporadanthus ferrugineus.

The great Kahikatea forests that so impressed Banks have now been replaced by farms where dairy cows graze on lush grass growing on the drained swamp soils. However, beyond the farms still lies a huge wetland that has somehow survived the early attempts to drain it. Kopuatai, at 90 km2 in area, is NZ’s largest remaining raised peat bog and one of our largest lowland wetlands.

Kopuatai bog has vegetation that is completely unique compared to the bogs of the northern hemisphere, where peat formation is dominated by mosses. In NZ, peat is predominantly formed from the remains of vascular plants of the southern hemisphere family Restionaceae. Two species, the wire rushes Empodisma robustum (north of 38oS) and E. minus (south of 38oS) are the main peat-formers[1], while Kopuatai bog is the last secure stronghold for the taller cane rush Sporadanthus ferrugineus.

Amid global concerns about rising atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations and growing evidence that a warming climate is directly linked to human activities, the world’s peatlands are gaining increasing attention from scientists. Since the end of the last ice age, plants growing within peat wetlands (bogs and fens) have been taking up CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it underground as peat. Northern hemisphere peatlands alone store around half as much carbon as is presently in the atmosphere as CO2, so it’s understandable why scientists are concerned about what might happen to all of this stored carbon in the future[2].

While the world’s peatlands have been net “sinks” for CO2 for millennia (they take up more CO2 than they release), they also act as sources of methane (CH4), a greenhouse gas around 21 times more potent at trapping heat in the atmosphere than CO2. To find out whether peatlands have a net cooling or warming effect on the climate system, now and projected into the future, requires scientists to compile “net ecosystem carbon budgets” over annual and longer periods. This approach provides the opportunity to understand the environmental conditions and ecological properties that affect the components of these budgets, and how they might change in the future.

Kopuatai research site. On the tall tower are mounted eddy covariance instruments measuring CO2, CH4, water vapour and heat exchanges between the bog vegetation (predominantly E. robustum) and the atmosphere.

We have been slow to gain information on the carbon budgets of NZ peatland ecosystems and therefore we have been unable to predict how they might change in the future. To fill this knowledge gap we have established a research site deep in the heart of Kopuatai, where we are continuously measuring the exchanges of CO2 and CH4 between the peatland surface and the atmosphere, as well as a host of hydrological, ecological and weather variables. We are using the “eddy covariance” technique, which is employed at more than 500 sites worldwide across a wide range of ecosystems. Kopuatai is part of the “OzFlux” network of Australasian research sites. Our preliminary results suggest that Kopuatai bog has very high rates of CO2 uptake compared to analogous northern hemisphere peatlands, mainly because of the mild year-round growing conditions in the Waikato. Methane emissions are moderately low, and the amount of dissolved carbon leached out by water is in line with northern bogs. Combining these three carbon budget components at Kopuatai leads to a substantial overall sink for atmospheric carbon over the course of a year.

Our research will provide important baseline knowledge to support efforts to restore NZ wetlands and act as a yardstick against which to compare the greenhouse gas balances of other wetlands and former peatland areas that are now farmed.


[1] Wagstaff, S, Clarkson, B. 2012. Systematics and ecology of the Australasian genus Empodisma (Restionaceae) and description of a new species from peatlands in northern New Zealand. PhytoKeys 13: 39-79.

[2] Limpens, J, Berendse, F, Blodau, C, Canadell, JG, Freeman, C, Holden, J, Roulet, N, Rydin, H, Schaepman-Strub, G. 2008. Peatlands and the carbon cycle: from local processes to global implications–a synthesis. Biogeosciences Discussions 5: 1379-1419.

Dr Dave Campbell is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of Waikato. To see his research interests, visit

World Wetlands Day at Lake Serpentine, site for proposed National Wetlands Centre Waiology Jan 30

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By Shonagh Lindsay

The Rotopiko/Serpentine complex, a headwater of the Waikato River at Ohaupo south of Hamilton, is steadily being developed by the National Wetland Trust as the site of New Zealand’s National Wetland Centre, a showcase for wetland education, training and research. To celebrate World Wetlands Day, the Trust will launch work on the National Wetland Centre on Sunday 3rd February. A blessing by local iwi and brief addresses will be followed by a range of family fun activities that reflect the vision to create a ‘masterpiece’ at this beautiful site.

Collecting insect samples.

The Trust has so far received significant funding to develop a predator-free wildlife sanctuary and restore vegetation in the peat lake/swamp forest complex. Getting the local community involved is integral and last year the lake area became a hive of forensic activity as Te Awamutu Intermediate students went on the hunt for native and introduced fauna, laying a network of insect traps, tracking tunnels, bat detectors and lizard homes to find out what lives in the reserve complex.

The lakes and their margins are managed by the Department of Conservation, while adjacent mature kahikatea swamp forest and former pasture land are recreation reserve areas managed by the Waipa District Council. Ecological values are already high with the lakes’ water quality amongst the best in the region, and the restoration work underway and planned will ensure it remains so. It is one of a very few remaining peat lake systems in the region that has retained many of its unique characteristics and spectacular native aquatic plant communities. The lake margins have well-established reed beds, sedgelands, and an area of the rare, peat-forming, giant cane rush – Sporadanthus ferrugineus.

Kahikatea bordering East Lake,

Long and short-finned eel, common bully and a lake-bound population of smelt are present, along with fourteen species of water birds including Australasian bittern, North Island fernbird, and spotless crake. Hopefully their numbers will grow once pests are gone from East Lake, and if community-led pest control in the wider catchment provides a halo of safe habitat for those that choose to fly over the fence. Brown teal and red-crowned parakeets could be introduced to the pest-free enclosure, which may also become a kiwi creche and house display takahe. Lizards and bats may already be present, and the Trust hopes that further surveys will detect them.

Interpretation will be an essential part of the National Wetland Centre’s experience. Pearson & Associates Architects have been commissioned to design the Centre building, which will serve as a hub for interpreting the big picture – New Zealand’s wetlands in a national and international context – and become a base for educational programmes. Designed to fit into the landscape it will become part of the whole conservation experience as well as serving as an administrative centre for the National Wetlands Trust.

A series of wetland ‘gardens’ that illustrate the range of wetland types found in New Zealand – estuary, red tussock, alpine tarn, geothermal, braided river – will be integrated into a walkway to the building’s location to create a virtual sea to mountain journey. The peat lake itself is the perfect setting to tell the regional wetlands story, and will be integrated into the overall interpretation with walkways, signs and structures to inform and delight.

As the pace of activity cranks up the need for volunteers is growing. The Trust would love to hear from you if you want to be part of this exciting project. Not only will you be contributing to a great cause, but you can meet like-minded people and learn some great skills. You don’t have to be a local either – there’s plenty of scope for anyone to help out with education and interpretation ideas, fauna management advice, marketing and planning.

Join us on the 3rd of February to learn more. Take a walk up our virtual ‘garden path’ showcasing plans for a series of gardens representing New Zealand’s wetland types, and talk to the designers about plans for the visitor building and exhibits. Afterwards, you can join guided walks, take an art or photography class, watch arborists scale giant kahikatea, or join the kids in a range of artistic pursuits.

Shonagh Lindsay is a Trustee and the newsletter editor of the National Wetland Trust.

The state of Canterbury’s coastal wetland vegetation Waiology Jan 29

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By Philip Grove

Canterbury has a wide variety of wetland types in a range of landscapes from the mountains and high country through to the foothills, plains and the coast. The biological productivity of coastal wetlands and their ecological importance in the life cycles of many native fish and birds is well recognised. A national database of inland freshwater wetlands has been developed recently, but it does not cover saltmarsh or brackish wetland habitats, and is of limited accuracy in areas where freshwater wetlands adjoin or grade into brackish coastal lagoons and estuaries.

A small coastal wetland at Raupo Bay, Banks Peninsula, that is intermittently open to the sea also supports saltmarsh vegetation – three-square (Schoenoplectus pungens), sea rush (Junkus kraussii) and saltmarsh ribbonwood (Plagianthus divaricatus).

To complement the freshwater wetland database for Canterbury, Regional Council staff surveyed and mapped the vegetation of coastal wetlands over the period 2004-2011. The survey area included wetlands associated with estuaries, dunes, coastal lagoons and river mouths – that is wetland forms that are related directly or indirectly to coastal processes. Results of the survey were entered into a database recording type and extent of vegetated coastal wetland habitats following a standard wetland classification system.

The database contains information on 50 vegetated coastal wetlands in Canterbury Region, from the Tirohanga River mouth in the north to the Waitaki River mouth. The largest contiguous area of wetland vegetation in the database, more than 4000 ha, is located around the margins of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere.
Estuarine habitats supporting saltmarsh or brackish wetland vegetation comprised the majority of the mapped area – 4602 ha. However, only 341 ha of saltmarsh vegetation was recorded from within true estuaries subject to sea-water intrusion in daily tidal cycles. The greater part of Canterbury’s vegetated saltmarsh habitats are instead associated with brackish coastal lagoons that are not permanently open to the sea but are still affected to some degree by salt water.

Tidal estuary saltmarsh vegetation on mudflats at the southern end of Brooklands Lagoon. Three-square (Schoenoplectus pungens) and oioi (Apodasmia similis).

Freshwater wetland vegetation and habitats formed a smaller but significant proportion of the coastal wetlands surveyed; some 1140 ha or about 20% of the total wetland area. Freshwater wetlands were commonly present on or adjoining the inland margins of estuaries and brackish coastal lagoons, as well as along the edges of freshwater coastal lagoons and river mouth lagoons (hāpua).

Native plant species remain the dominant element in the vegetation cover for the majority of the region’s saltmarsh habitats. The most abundant native vegetation types are saltmarsh herbfield, marsh ribbonwood (Plagianthus divaricatus) shrubland and sea rush (Juncus krausii ssp. australiensis) rushland. However, most of the freshwater wetland habitats within the coastal survey area were dominated by introduced plants, particularly willows and grasses, although native rushes and raupō are also common.

Prior to European settlement, large freshwater wetlands occupied the low plains connecting the region’s coastal lagoons, estuaries and hāpua. For the most part these links no longer exist. Drainage of this low-lying land for agricultural and urban development has reduced the formerly extensive complex of freshwater and estuarine wetlands to the isolated fragments that remain around river mouths, estuaries and coastal lagoons. Human-induced loss of saltmarsh and other coastal wetland vegetation in the region is on-going. There have however also been examples of successful restoration of some coastal wetland habitats over the last decade, such as at Charlesworth Reserve on the Avon-Heathcote Estuary and Otipua Wetland near Timaru. The importance of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere margins, which support more than 80% of the region’s remaining saltmarsh habitats, has been recognised with the inclusion of vegetation values in the National Water Conservation Amendment Order of 2011.

Following the Canterbury earthquakes of September 2010 and February 2011, significant changes have been recorded in bed level and hydrology in and around the Avon-Heathcote Estuary and Brooklands Lagoon. Repeating the vegetation survey and mapping of these estuaries in a few years when plant distributions have adjusted to the new conditions will help provide a measurable record of changes to extent and type of wetland habitats.

Philip Grove is a terrestrial and wetland ecologist at Canterbury Regional Council.

From “swamps” to “wetlands”: The transformation of wetlands as both conceptual and physical landscapes Waiology Jan 28


By Catherine Knight

The boardwalk through the wetland at Papaitonga, south of Levin, Horowhenua (photo: C. Knight).

Through time, not only has our environment been transformed, but also the way we perceive it and the words we use to describe it. No example illustrates this better than the “swamp” to “wetland” transformation. When European settlement of New Zealand began in earnest about 150 years ago, about 670, 000 hectares of freshwater wetlands existed. By the 20th century, this had been reduced to 100,000 hectares. Wetlands were seen as swamps – or, as Charles Hursthouse put it in 1857: “Damp and dripping forests, exhaling pestilent vapours from rank and rotten vegetation…” Not only were swamps “unproductive”, they were also undesirable to the European aesthetic – “messy” and without order. In order to transform these swamps into productive and useful land, they first had to be drained. Throughout the 19th century, settlers had drained smaller areas of swampland for their own farms and homes. But in the early 20th century, the government set about massive scale drainage works throughout the country, starting with Hauraki Plains, and Rangitaiki Swamp in the Bay of Plenty, to convert these areas into farmland and settlements.

In 1889, William Pember Reeves gave this poignant description of swamp environments and their desiccation:

Small streams ran out of the swamp… and disappeared in the shingle of the beach. When not disturbed with draining work, their water was sweet and clear. The swamps had been covered with tall flax, toetoe, rushes and small bushes, green and beautiful in the sunlight, but as drains did their work, the peat sank, cracked and dried, the surface was systematically burnt and became stretches of black, hideous ashes and mud, poached up by the hoofs of cattle.

Today, New Zealand has the unenviable record of an 85 to 90 per cent reduction in wetlands since European settlement. As Geoff Park states in Environmental Histories of New Zealand, one of the most dramatic declines anywhere in the world. But with that dramatic decline has come a heightening in awareness of the ecological importance of wetlands. No longer dismissed as useless “swamps”, wetlands are recognised as having numerous functions vital to both environmental and human wellbeing. Acting rather like a giant sponge, they control water flow and quality. Plants slow the flow of surface water from the land, absorbing excess water during flood events. During dry periods, stored water is slowly released from wetlands, maintaining flows. Bacteria in the damp soils of wetlands absorb and break down 90 per cent of the nitrogen contained in farm run-off (such as in fertilisers and animal waste). Plants also trap waterborne sediment, preventing silt entering streams and harbours. They are highly productive ecosystems, providing habitat and a rich food source for fish, birds and other animals. They absorb large amounts of water and nutrients from outside sources and contain micro-organisms (fungi and bacteria) that efficiently decompose and recycle nutrients.

In the Manawatu, which is the focus of my current research, much of the flood plains of the lower Manawatu River were once a network of wetlands of some nature: swamps, lagoons created by the cut-off meanders of the river, and once the river reached the Tasman Sea, an extensive estuary. These wetlands were greatly valued (and contested) by Maori in the region, who treated them as a highly valued resource, particularly as eel fisheries. However, to the European, they were seen as a barrier to the productive use of land, as well as an unwelcome encumbrance to movement across the land. Drainage boards were established almost immediately to create and maintain drains across the swampiest of land, thereby allowing the “march of progress” to proceed, in the form of the ever-expanding pastoral landscape. One of the largest wetlands to be drained was Taonui Swamp, in the basin between Oroua and Manawatu Rivers. Others that were initially valued as flax-producing swamps, but later drained when the boom was over, were the Makerua and Moutoa Swamps.

Palmerston North itself was established on an area that included five lagoons, all highly valued by Maori, whose settlements were sited close by. All but one of these is now drained. Even the lagoon that remains is in a form vastly transformed from its indigenous state, and few Palmerstonians are aware of its illustrious pre-European history.

Awapuni Lagoon in 1881. It was highly valued by the Rangitane people who had a settlement at Awapuni, and was initially valued as a place of recreation by early settlers of Palmerston North, but was later drained. Source: Palmerston North City Library, Digitisation ID no.: 2007N_Awa1_EPN_0252.

Sadly, no amount of effort will restore the likes of the Awapuni Lagoon, once located on the western boundary of the city, which can now only be remembered by historical photographs (see above). But, like many other regions of New Zealand, wetlands are undergoing a revival in the Manawatu, both in terms of the value attributed to them, and the effort invested in restoring them.

One such example is the Manawatu Estuary. In 2005, after prolonged representations by the self-appointed guardians of the estuary, the Manawatu Estuary Trust, the Manawatu Estuary was designated as New Zealand’s sixth Wetland of International Importance, under the RAMSAR convention, an inter-government treaty on the conservation of wetlands. It is now recognised that the estuary has one of the most diverse ranges of birds to be seen at any one place in New Zealand, a total of 93 species have been identified at the estuary. It is a significant area of salt marsh and mudflat and an important feeding ground for many birds, including the migratory eastern bar-tailed godwit, which flies non-stop for 11, 000 kms from Siberia to escape the harsh northern winter. The estuary is also a permanent home to 13 species of birds, six species of fish and four plants species, all of which are threatened. It regularly supports about one per cent of the world population of wrybills.

Ashhurst wetland, near the Ashhurst Domain (photo: C. Knight).

Another wetland that has been the focus of local restoration efforts is Ashhurst wetland (pictured). And while an investigation of the site’s environmental history reveals that this is not a “restoration” in the strict sense, the restoration project has nevertheless produced an ecosystem of significant natural value and a landscape of aesthetic value, from which many derive considerable pleasure. Hopefully, restoration projects of the future will also reveal the important ecological, aesthetic, recreational and cultural values of places once dismissed as “unproductive wastelands”.

Dr Catherine Knight is an environmental history researcher, and an honorary research associate at Massey University. She is currently working on a book exploring the environmental history of the Manawatu region, from prehistory to today.

This article adapted from a post originally published on envirohistory NZ on 6 December 2009.

Two weeks of blogging for World Wetlands Day Waiology Jan 28

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By Daniel Collins

This Saturday, February 2, is World Wetlands Day. It is the anniversary of the adoption of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in 1971, which was established to highlight the many values of wetlands and foster their conservation and sustainable use.

Wetlands are parts of a landscape where the soil is saturated either permanently or seasonally, and which vary in size and shape from small mountain tarns to South America’s Pantanal (140,000 km, straddling three countries). Landcare Research has a good resource describing the wetland types found in New Zealand. Wetlands are among the world’s most productive environments, and in addition to high biodiversity also offer many ecosystem services for us. These services can include pollution control, river and climate regulation, food provision, recreation, and more. Yet of all ecosystem types worldwide, they have been degraded the most. Less than 10% of NZ’s original wetlands remain intact.

And so in recognition of World Wetlands Day, Waiology is running a series of articles on wetlands from contributors across New Zealand. We have articles on research, historical accounts, regional and central government programmes, and restoration efforts. So stay tuned, add your knowledge and questions in the comments, and take part in World Wetlands Day here at Waiology.

If you’re interested in activities on the day, see the Department of Conservation website for more information, or announce activities here.

Dr Daniel Collins is a hydrologist and water resources scientist at NIWA.

The use of dicyandiamide (DCD) to control nitrogen pollution in NZ Waiology Jan 25


By Bob Wilcock

For the last 20 years New Zealand has been undergoing a rapid expansion in dairy farming, driven by commodity prices. New Zealand’s dairy exports, although small on a global scale of production, comprise 30-40% of internationally traded dairy products and are a major component of our gross domestic product (roughly 3%). Dairy farming is an intensive form of agriculture and its expansion into areas that were previously used for sheep and beef farming, combined with increased stocking rates in established dairy farming regions, has resulted in much greater leaching of nitrate to groundwater, and to surface waters receiving inputs of groundwater.

About 40% of the nitrogen in our rivers originates from pasture. Increased nitrate concentrations adversely affect nitrogen-sensitive lakes, such as Taupo, by promoting phytoplankton growth, and cause periphyton blooms in some rivers. In addition, recent research has shown that levels of nitrate commonly found in rural streams maybe toxic to sensitive fish species, notably trout.

Environment Canterbury has adopted a value of 1.7 mg N/L for nitrate-nitrogen as an upper limit for chronic exposure in order to protect 95% of aquatic species in some waters. Monitoring of streams in dairying catchments has shown that median concentrations are typically 1-3 mg N/L. Groundwater leachate concentrations of nitrate-nitrogen from intensive agriculture may in some cases exceed the drinking water standard of 11.3 mg N/L so there is a need to manage leaching losses and lessen the amount of nitrate entering waterways. There is also a benefit from cutting down another unwanted by-product of nitrate, nitrous oxide, which is a greenhouse gas and may be emitted from intensively managed pasture.

The “leaky pipe” model of denitrification illustrating the effect of DCD (modified from Davidson, 1991).

On farm paddocks, urea is excreted by cattle in concentrated urine patches and is mineralised to ammonium over a few days. Nitrate produced from ammonia via the process of nitrification is readily leached from soils. DCD, or dicyandiamide, is a substance widely used in agriculture over the last decade to inhibit the conversion of ammonium to nitrate and to lower emissions of nitrous oxide. It does this by blocking the enzyme that causes oxidation of ammonium to nitrate in soil and thereby slowing down the release of nitrate to waterbodies, and the production of nitrous oxide via the process of denitrification.

What is unknown ecologically is if extensive use of DCD adversely affects aquatic ecosystems by causing a build-up of ammonia or in other ways altering nitrogen cycling process in wetlands so that they don’t buffer downstream waters from nitrate pollution. Complete denitrification (right side of the picture) entails reduction of nitrate through to nitrogen gas (N2) and completes the cycle of N-fixation by clover, followed by sequential production of urea, ammonium and nitrate. DCD offers a solution to some of the problems caused by nitrate in the environment and it remains to be seen what its future in New Zealand agriculture will be, given recent news to voluntarily suspend its sale and use pending further information about uptake by grazing cattle and market reactions.

Dr Bob Wilcock is a Principal Scientist for water quality at NIWA.

Discovering the unique fauna of alpine streams Waiology Jan 22

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By Richard Storey

Each summer many of us don a backpack and head into the mountains to immerse ourselves in spectacular scenery relatively untouched by human activities. Undoubtedly the tracks we follow will take us across dozens of clear, tumbling streams where we might refill our water bottles or splash cool water on our faces. But how often do we think about what lives in these streams?

We might think that being close to popular walks, the animal communities inhabiting these streams are well known to science. But despite over 150 years of freshwater research in New Zealand, little is actually known about the stream invertebrates (insects, crustaceans, worms, etc.) living at high altitudes, or how the animal community differs from one alpine stream to another. This is largely because most freshwater research focuses on areas where human activities could have an impact on stream-dwelling animals. High in the mountains, we assume that invertebrate communities are safe from human impact. And so there are still significant gaps in our knowledge of New Zealand’s freshwater biodiversity. This makes it hard to classify different types of streams, which is an important step for managing and protecting them. Also, climate change means that now no place is free of human impact, and alpine ecosystems may be specially vulnerable to temperature rises. Alpine communities might start changing before we have even described them.

Sampling in Cascade Saddle Stream. (Photo credit: Andrew Shepherd)

For these reasons, in March 2012 I made a field trip through several sites in the Southern Alps. With field assistants from Department of Conservation, University of Canterbury and Environment Southland, I collected benthic (bottom-dwelling) invertebrates from 48 different streams, focusing on areas where a new stream classification system showed there was a wide diversity of stream types. We began at the Cascade Saddle near Wanaka where we followed the Dart River from its source beneath the Dart Glacier. Then we took samples along the Routeburn Track and from a number of steep, glacier-fed streams along the Milford Sound Road. Finally we helicoptered into several small headwater streams in the Eyre, Garvie and Takitimu Mountains in Southland.

Zelandobius edensis

This stonefly, Zelandobius edensis, was previously known only from one spring in Canterbury but appeared in a number of sites in our survey. (Photo credit: Brian Smith.)

We found a number of very interesting species living in these streams. One species of stonefly that turned up in several places had only been found previously in one spring in Canterbury. Other species of stoneflies and caddisflies were alpine specialists that are never found in lowland sites. Stoneflies and caddisflies are common groups of stream insects that eat fragments of decaying plant material or other stream invertebrates. Overall, all of the alpine streams we visited had an invertebrate community distinctly different from lowland streams. In particular, streams emerging from glacier mouths had a very specialised fauna, consisting of only one hardy species of mayfly, two stoneflies, two caddisflies and a number of midges. Glacier mouths are a very harsh environment, not just because of the extremely cold temperatures (less than 1 °C!) but also because the flow and river bed are always shifting in response to freeze-thaw cycles in the ice.

Dart Glacier, Aspiring National Park. Glacier-fed streams were found to have a unique fauna. (Photo credit: Richard Storey)

The results of this study will be very helpful in adding to our knowledge of New Zealand’s biodiversity, improving classification of New Zealand streams, and providing baseline data for detecting effects of climate change on alpine ecosystems. We hope they will also stimulate research in the ecology of this extreme environment.

Dr Richard Storey is an aquatic ecologist at NIWA.

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