UC research on effects of the quakes on whitebait

17 June 2016

The recovery of īnanga (whitebait) spawning sites following the Canterbury earthquakes will be discussed in a seminar by doctoral researcher Shane Orchard

UC research on effects of the quakes on whitebait

Shane Orchard taking salinity measurements in the Avon Heathcote Estuary Ihutai.
Photo: Tom Moore, EOS Ecology

The recovery of īnanga (whitebait) spawning sites following the Canterbury earthquakes will be discussed in a seminar by doctoral researcher Shane Orchard, hosted by the University of Canterbury Ngāi Tahu Research Centre.

Shane’s PhD research, supervised by marine ecologist UC Distinguished Professor David Schiel, explores the vulnerability of coastal conservation areas to dynamic changes such as rising sea levels. He is using earthquake effects to simulate the type of issues that might occur with climate change.

Īnanga (Galaxias maculatus) are a culturally important species known to use specific locations for spawning on riparian margins in upper estuarine areas close to the spring high-tide waterline, where many human activities may threaten site availability and condition. Spawning is a vulnerable lifecycle stage and these factors suggest spawning sites are an important focus for management, Shane says.

“Understanding the spatial ecology of spawning sites is key for assessing the impact of various activities. Such sites may be susceptible to land-use changes and will undoubtedly be affected by sea-level rise. This study tested the hypothesis that hydrodynamic changes associated with the earthquakes would cause a shift in spawning site locations and changed patterns of vulnerability with regards to human land uses,” he says.

“The results show that spawning sites were resilient to earthquake changes, but that vulnerabilities to human activities remain. Addressing these effectively is a current priority and presents an opportunity for improving outcomes within the wider context of earthquake recovery and waterways management.”

Shane’s interests include the application of ecosystem-based approaches to coastal and freshwater management alongside ongoing work on the management of land-water boundaries. The ‘Resilient Shorelines’ PhD project is contributing to the development of solutions for managing shoreline ecosystems that are vulnerable to sea-level rise.

Recovery of īnanga spawning sites following the Canterbury earthquakes, Shane Orchard Wednesday 29 June, 12pm, Room 208, Level 2, Te Ao Marama Building, Arts Road, University of Canterbury, Ilam. RSVP: kirsty.ameriks@canterbury.ac.nz

For further information please contact:
Margaret Agnew, Senior External Relations Advisor, University of Canterbury
Ph: (03) 364 2775 | Mobile: 027 5030 168 | margaret.agnew@canterbury.ac.nz
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