Research Aim 3 Progress Updates

  • We carried the first comprehensive subtidal survey of Tauranga Harbour’s subtidal environment since 1990. The survey was designed to understand more fully the role of various anthropogenic stressors on ecosystem health and feed into management of the harbour. We also developed models to determine how the health of the harbour was impacted by sedimentation and metal contamination. Clark et al. (2018) 2016 Subtidal Ecological Survey of Tauranga Harbour and Development of Benthic Health Models.
  • We developed an estuarine transport module for Tauranga Harbour that simulates the distribution of stressor loads (e.g. sediment and metals) from rivers throughout the estuary. This module can be used to predict how the distribution and concentration of stressors in Tauranga Harbour will change under future scenarios. Knight et al. (in prep). Estuarine Transport module for Tauranga Harbour.
  • We have used information collected from intertidal and subtidal surveys of the harbour to develop models which predict how the ecology of the harbour may change under future scenarios.

Models have been developed to:

    1. Predict how the abundance of 20 taxa and 22 functional traits will change under increasing sediment, nutrient and metal loads. Ellis et al. (2017). Multiple stressor effects on marine infauna: responses of estuarine taxa and functional traits to sedimentation, nutrient and metal loading.
    2. Show that changes in community structure are observed at metal concentrations below sediment guideline thresholds. Tremblay et al. (2017). Integration of community structure data reveals observable effects below sediment guideline thresholds in a large estuary.
    3. Predict how the distribution of and abundance of two culturally important species (pipi and cockle) will change under future scenarios.
    4. Predict how the overall health of the harbour will change under future scenarios.

The Oranga Taiao Oranga Tangata Project is builds on the work undertaken in MTM, and will develop toolsets that assist Iwi and Hapu with co-management of Estuaries.  By restoring the health of the Estuarine Environment, we also enhance health of the People.