Issie is working on a novel approach to stream restoration, targeting the lack of biological recovery observed after physical stream restoration measures. She hopes to show that lack of community recovery is a result of ‘negative resistance and resilience’, whereby degraded stream communities become extremely stable, leaving them trapped in their degraded state even after physical stream conditions improve. Through a series of mesocosm experiments and a trait-based meta-analysis of existing community data, Issie aims to develop and test a ‘push-pull’ method for stream community restoration, first destabilising the degraded community (‘push’) then helping to establish a healthy one (‘pull’).
Research Interests: resistance, resilience, restoration, community ecology, biological traits, mesocosms.
For more information check out Issie’s Blog
Aisling is using conservation genomics tools to help rehabilitate our freshwater ecosystems for our future generations. For her PhD, she is privileged to work in partnership with an exceptional team including mana whenua, conservation practitioners and primary industry to improve resilience in the declining mahinga kai species kēkēwai/kōura/freshwater crayfish. Together, they are using a combination of genomic and non-genomic information to inform management of kēkēwai (e.g., translocations) to enhance conservation, customary and commercial outcomes. Aisling also loves getting outdoors and working with fellow students and the Ōtautahi community as part of UC’s Student Volunteer Army.
Research interests: conservation genomics, kēkēwai, kōura, freshwater crayfish, ecology.
There are a number of research projects that have focused on the physical restoration of waterways and habitats, however, there is little known about reintroducing native species back into rehabilitated environments. Reseeding of native species that could potentially assist with stream rehabilitation is the most logical “next step” in stream restoration. Channell’s research focuses on using kākahi, freshwater mussels (Echyridella sp.) to act as a biological tool to assist with waterway restoration efforts. Kākahi are ideal candidates as they perform a number of ecologically important functions in waterways. These functions include acting as bio-engineers which can physically shape environmental habitats; bio-indicators, which can assist with assessment of water quality; and filter feeders, which may help with removal of particulates and contaminants.
Research interests: kākahi (freshwater mussels), multi-trophic translocations of threatened endemic mahinga kai species into rehabilitated waterways.
Alpine tarns are data deficient ecosystems in New Zealand. Alex’s research aims to create baseline physical and chemical data for these systems. She also aims to compile macroinvertebrate community data. During her research Alex has surveyed a number a tarn clusters at various elevations and locations in the Canterbury and Westland regions, and taken macroinvertebrate and plant samples for taxonomy and stable C and N isotope analysis. Using the C and N signatures she hopes to be able to construct food-webs for these tarns and even help to inform future management action.
Research interests: alpine tarns, stable isotopes, food-webs, macroinvertebrates, communities.
Banks Peninsula in Canterbury is one of New Zealand’s 84 freshwater ecoregions. The Peninsula has a high level of regional endemism, which includes 10 endemic stream invertebrates. Alice’s research aims to determine the distribution and spatial patterns of the endemic macroinvertebrates across the Peninsula’s waterways. Additionally, she is looking into the occurrence of the endemic species and macroinvertebrate community assemblages in microhabitat stream environments on the Peninsula. Alice’s work aims to improve the knowledge of these threatened freshwater invertebrate species and provide insight for their future conservation and protection on Banks Peninsula.
Research interests: regional endemism, stream macroinvertebrate ecology, Banks Peninsula.
BSc (hons) Students
Bridget is exploring how biotic interactions may prevent "healthy" communities from returning to abiotically restored streams. Restored streams where stressors have been removed often retain a low-quality community consisting of highly tolerant, often armoured macroinvertebrates. This community displays resistance and resilience to positive changes - termed "negative resistance and resilience". Bridget is interested in how fish predation preferences and behaviour modification of vulnerable colonising prey could underpin or enhance this negative resistance and resilience. She is using an artificial stream system containing different densities of mayflies and snails as well as fish to detect behavioural or predation differences in different communities.
Research interests: negative resistance and resilience, stream restoration, community ecology.