Our research seeks to integrate ecology with physics, chemistry, and genetics in order to develop a greater understanding of processes that structure rocky intertidal communities around New Zealand. This includes studies on population connectivity, biodiversity, hydrodynamics, disturbance, and ecological interactions.

Early life stages of algae

The attachment of microscopic algae zygotes at the substrate, and post-settlement processes such as wave action and herbivory are important in determining the recruitment and survival of algal propogules.


We are studying patterns of larvae dispersal around Banks Peninsula in order to better understand hydrodynamic processes associated with onshore/offshore transport and the physics of the nearshore environment.

Ecology of Rocky Shores

This research examines the effects of key habitat-forming species on biodiversity, the resilience of communities to disturbance, invertebrate/algal interactions, and top-down bottom-up effects in the rocky intertidal.
Invasive seaweeds of rocky shores: Species such as Undaria pinnitafida have life history traits that allow them to be successful invaders in the rocky intertidal.

Phytoplankton dynamics in the Marlborough Sounds

Mussels are feed on phytoplankton by filtration, and the processes determining phytoplankton abundance are important for the multi-million dollar mussel industry in Pelorus Sound.

Genetic diversity of limpets and paua

Examining genetic linkages can reveal information about population connectivity, source/sink dynamics, and benthic/pelagic coupling.

Patterns of dispersal in fish with planktonic larval stages

Trace-elemental signatures in fish otoliths can be used as a marker to determine natal origin and population connectivity of whitebait on the west coast.

Ongoing Research

We have also been conducting a long-term quarterly sampling program of rocky shores on the east coast at Moeraki, Kaikoura, and Cape Campbell. This dataset can give us information on how communities are changing seasonally and annually in response to climate variability and large-scale oceanic processes.

Our biogeography research is examing trends in rocky intertidal communities around New Zealand. The aim of this research is to identify major biogeographic provinces and examine the structure and diversity of intertidal communities at large scales. This is accomplished by surveying and sampling the intertidal communities of outer-coast, rocky intertidal reefs.

Research in the past has also examined wave transformations across rocky reefs, and the input of human-generated nutrients into coastal waters.