Getting to grips with New Zealand Crustacea


The crustacean taxonomy team. (Photo: Alan Blacklock, NIWA)

NIWA taxonomists are continuing to greatly increase the number of crustacean species known from New Zealand and the Antarctic Ross Sea. The crustacean taxonomy team comprises (from left to right): Kareen Schnabel, Shane Ahyong, Anne-Nina Lörz, Niel Bruce, and Janet Bradford-Grieve. Combined, their current work in progress alone has boosted species numbers by an amazing 350% (from 25 known species to 87) over the past few years.

Each member of the team specialises in a particular group of crustaceans: Kareen works on squat lobsters (the families Chirostylidae and Galatheidae), Shane on crabs, lobsters, prawns, and mantis shrimp (decapods and stomatopods), Niel on slaters (isopods), Anne-Nina on sandhoppers (amphipods), and Janet on zooplankton (copepods).

Most of the samples have been collected during the past 50 years and are held in the NIWA National Invertebrate Collection at Greta Point. This a Nationally Significant Collection supported by funding from the Foundation for Research, Science & Technology through the Aquatic Biodiversity & Biosecurity Outcome Based Investment programme, E(MB)2. New samples are constantly added from a range of research programmes and international collaborations.

‘These collections include rare and fascinating specimens, many of which have yet to be identified’, says collection manager, Kareen Schnabel. ‘But this still only represents a tiny proportion of all of New Zealand’s marine life – we are just scratching the surface!’

More details of the collections can be found at:

Research subject: Marine Invertebrates