Science Blog – future research
Kia ora kotou,
Time for a further update on research in the Upper Clutha. Previous science blogs have covered historic and current research in our catchment area. This blog takes a brief look at some of the future research needed to help manage our region’s freshwater and environmental health for future generations.
To best understand the major knowledge gaps and what future research could and should focus on, check out the Community Catchment Plan. Between the Actions and the Literature Review, there are more areas identified than can be covered in this blog. Some quick highlights are:
Understanding the impact of regional growth
We need more research to understand the impact of our growing urban centres and land use changes on the health of the lakes and rivers in the region. Aotearoa New Zealand has been a bit behind in this realm. Check out Lakes 380, NIWA’s work in Lake Modelling, and LERNZ (Lake Ecosystem Research New Zealand). It is worth noting, that none of these studies are specific to our deep alpine lakes and their catchment areas.
Comprehensive modelling of our lakes is a key piece of future work. Fortunately (see previous blog) we’ve been able to engage NIWA and start this work in Roys Bay as part of the Wānaka Water Project. This still leaves the rest of Lake Wānaka and all of Lake Hāwea to be addressed.
The power to make accurate and powerful management decisions increases greatly with access to the understanding these models would bring.
Biosecurity concerns are plaguing our lakes. It is therefore critically important that more research goes into understanding the invasive plants and species in the local waterways. You may have seen the “sludge” (Lindavia) that washed up on the shores of Eely point and other areas around the lake shore recently? It is imperative that we understand the impacts these invasive pests are having on both our lake ecosystems and the infrastructure we rely on to live in this region.
If you’re interested in biosecurity and want to learn more about the biggest challenges our lakes and rivers are facing, visit the ORC Pest Hub and read about Lindavia and Lagarosiphon, amongst others.
The issue closest to my heart (being a biologist) is investigating our aquatic biodiversity and how to best look after it. Previous blogs have touched on two amazing fish species that call this region home. However, there are many more organisms living in our freshwater, most of which are even less understood than tuna and Clutha flathead galaxias. This is particularly true for the microscopic organisms that play an essential role in ecosystem function. Check out L. Schallenberg’s dissertation, or explore Wilderlab’s eDNA data for this region. Failing to understand and look after these organisms may have many unseen consequences for environmental functions locally and globally.
Check out this video, explaining what eDNA or environmental DNA is.
While research and where things ‘could and should’ go might not seem like much of a big deal – especially when it’s initially quite academic – the adage “knowledge is power” stands true. The more we know, the better we can do! Thanks for taking the time to read this quick dive into future research directions. If you are interested in further understanding the science and research needs of our region, check out our Community Catchment Plan and follow WAI Wānaka.
Kia pai tō koutou rā.
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Links to related blog posts
- Science Blog – historic research
- Science Blog – current research
- New research commissioned (the drifter study)
- Being a freshwater ecologist (Melanie Vermuelen)
- An education in tuna with WAI Wānaka
- Riparian Planting in the Upper Clutha