Biodiversity

Latest news

NIWA researchers are heading out from Tasman early next week to survey an area thought to be home to important juvenile fish nurseries.
After a decade-long effort, NIWA’s latest Biodiversity Memoir has just rolled off the presses. Written by marine biologist Kareen Schnabel, the 350-page treatise presents everything we currently know about the different kinds of squat lobster living in New Zealand’s waters.
Five specialist NIWA divers were left ‘gasping’ during their recent plunge under the ice near Scott Base.
For more than 20 years NIWA scientists have been nurturing three plants that are the only examples of their kind in existence.

Our work

The ability to properly manage our freshwater resources requires a solid understanding of the flora and fauna which live in and interact with them.
NIWA hosted an IPBES workshop entitled “Visions for nature and nature’s contributions to people for the 21st century” held from 4-8 September 2017 in Auckland.
NIWA is conducting a five–year study to map changes in the distribution of plankton species in surface waters between New Zealand and the Ross Sea.
Our oceans are expected to become more acidic as carbon dioxide concentrations rise. This will likely have impacts on the plankton, which play a major role in ocean ecosystems and processes.

Latest videos

Diving deep to check up on our lakes

NIWA scientists jump overboard to check out the health the Rotorua Te Arawa lakes. The work is part of NIWA's national LakeSPI programme—an ecological health check for lakes throughout New Zealand. 
Underwater research to protect and maintain New Zealand's freshwater resources.

Recording underwater biodiversity after earthquakes

NIWA’s marine ecologist Dr Dave Bowden talks about the catastrophic changes to the seafloor in the Kaikoura Canyon following the November 2016 earthquake.

Exploring the deepsea

Despite many centuries of maritime exploration, only a fraction of our planet's seafloor has been observed. NIWA Deepsea Scientist Di Tracey tells us what it feels like to probe deep beneath the waves to see what's living on the ocean floor.

Taking the pulse of Antarctica’s ocean ecosystem
Niwa scientists have anchored an echosounder to the sea floor of Terra Nova Bay that could reveal the mystery of silverfish reproduction under the Antarctic ice.

What is known about life in the ocean? Even though it’s the biggest habitat on the planet, most of the ocean remains unexplored biologically. So what do we know? And how does New Zealand’s biodiversity compare with the rest of the world?

A New Zealand sponge has been selected for the prestigious international Top 10 species of the year. Each year, an international Top 10 New Species selection committee selects the 10 most notable new species described from around the world.

They are tiny, burrow under the boards of your seaside bach, and make a heck of a lot of noise in the dead of night. They think night-time is the right time for … calling loudly in a raspy voice!

Snapper are New Zealand’s most prized fish; they are the fish fishermen love-to-love. They live in a wide range of habitats in New Zealand’s warmer coastal waters, around the North Island and the top of the South, and prefer depths of 5–60 metres. They grow to a decent size: up to 105 cm in length.

Think you’ve got your favourite surf beach to yourself? Think again! There’s life hidden beneath those waves.

“It may look barren, but the high-energy surf zone of exposed beaches is a very productive place, second only to coastal upwellings,” says Keith Michael, a fisheries scientist at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA). “It’s rich in phytoplankton [microscopic plants], such as diatoms, that provide a constant ‘soup’ for animals tough enough to survive the waves.”

If you’re surfing the North Island beaches this summer don’t be surprised if the sleek bronze body next to you riding the waves is that of a bronze whaler shark.

The scientific name for New Zealand’s iconic black-footed pāua captures its shape and iridescent hues perfectly: Haliotis iris means ‘ear-shell rainbow’.

The decorator crabs, or camouflaged crabs, are very different creatures from the paddle crab. They’re slow movers that rely on disguise to evade predators, decorating their shells with whatever flotsam and jetsam comes to claw.

Ever had a crab nip your toe at the beach? The culprit is most likely the paddle crab.

This summer, watch out when snorkelling around the New Zealand coastline, for our very own sea monster: Hippocampus abdominalis, the pot-bellied sea horse.

Specimens can be loaned to universities, colleges, museums and other research or education institutions for the use of resident research staff.

A carnivorous sponge with ‘lip-shaped’ spicules has been identified from the dark depths of the ocean.

NIWA scientists are in the pink! They’re studying the deep candy pink or purple coralline algae, abundant around the New Zealand shoreline and throughout the world, which play a vital role in marine ecosystems.

Two New Zealand research organisations will work closely with one of the world’s leading ocean research and engineering organisations to accelerate research and exploration in a wide range of oceanographic topics in the southwest Pacific region.

Welcome to the second edition of Asia-Pacific Update, our newsletter focusing on NIWA's international work in the Pacific, Southeast Asia and Australia. In this edition we focus on some of our recent aquatic biodiversity and biosecurity work in the region.

Researchers at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) have contributed their findings to a major news release by the Census of Marine Life charting an astonishing abundance, diversity, and distribution of deep-sea species.

This unique project is the first systematic attempt to quantify and map environmental values of New Zealand's coastal marine ecosystem.

Scientists at NIWA have identified the source of the giant plankton bloom featuring in spectacular NASA satellite images.

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All staff working on this subject

Principal Scientist - Fisheries
Principal Scientist - Marine Ecology
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Principal Scientist - Marine Ecology
Principal Scientist - Fisheries
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Marine Invertebrate Systematist
Principal Scientist - Marine Ecology
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Regional Manager - Wellington
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Marine Biologist (Biosecurity)
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Freshwater Ecologist
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Marine Ecology Technician
Principal Technician - Marine Biology
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Marine Biologist
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