Many of our iconic native fish species, such as whitebait and eels, rely on river flows to cue key life-cycle stages, including migration and reproduction. As pressures on water resources increase, the risk of disrupting these flow cues, and therefore impacting fish populations, becomes greater.
Three plants of an endemic submerged quillwort (Isoëtes) were recovered from Lake Ōmāpere by NIWA in 1998, prior to the lake weed (Egeria densa) dying off and the lake switching into an algal dominated turbid state. No further isoëtes plants have been observed in the lake since that time.
NIWA and Meridian are developing a management strategy on LINZ crown owned lakes for pest aquatic plants – weeds, the alga Didymosphenia geminata (Didymo) and filamentous green algae (both native and introduced) - in the Waitaki Catchment.
Biofilms – communities of microorganisms growing together – are common in groundwater systems, but we don't know much about them. Our scientists devised a series of studies to start to understand what environmental changes they can cope with and still play their role in a healthy groundwater ecosystem.
NIWA are contributing to and testing the open source Delft3D model so that it can be used to simulate the response of braided rivers and their ecosystems to the changes in river flow associated with water use schemes, such as dams.
We know that waves cleanse estuaries of silts and clays, keeping intertidal flats sandy and healthy. But how big do waves have to be to be effective in this way? New research shows that very small waves can be just as effective as big waves.
Aquatic systems are under threat due to the introduction of invasive exotic species such as water weeds. Modelling work by NIWA has provided new information on which water bodies may be at greatest risk.
NIWA has developed a rapid, desktop model which assesses the potential impact of introducing new fish species to New Zealand. The model is customised to New Zealand's unique environment and endemic fish.
Estuaries in New Zealand are experiencing sedimentation at higher rates than before humans arrived here: this represents a loss both for land and estuary productivity. We need to better understand what has been happening so that we can predict the future and fight these losses.
Many of New Zealand's aquatic ecosystems, and their services, are in a degraded and often worsening state. NIWA is involved in research and consultation' aimed at improving the health of our freshwater systems.