Carbon and nitrogen storage in NZ estuaries

Project code:  SCI154

Aim of Project

Considerable international efforts are underway to quantify the value of carbon and nitrogen stored in coastal ecosystems such as salt marsh, mangrove forests, seagrass meadows and tidal flats. This has not yet occurred in New Zealand however. 

This summer student will contribute to the first study to quantify carbon and nitrogen storage across a range of habitats in New Zealand estuaries. By collecting this data we will establish the first dataset on carbon and nitrogen storage for coastal ecosystems in New Zealand.  This data will be used to help value our coastal ecosystems and predict how coastal carbon and nitrogen storage may change in the future due to stressors such as sedimentation, nutrient runoff and climate change.

Key Techniques/Skills that the student will learn

Field work in soft sediment habitats, wetland vegetation biomass assessments, habitat assessments, sediment coring, macrofauna sorting, analysis of sediment properties.


Driver’s license

Willingness to travel to estuaries in Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions

Willingness to work in muddy conditions

Location negotiable (Leigh, Auckland)


Carolyn Lundquist


Temperature effects on snapping shrimp behaviour

Project code:  SCI155

Ocean soundscapes convey important sensory information to marine fauna.  Snapping shrimp are the most ubiquitous sound producing animals in the world’s oceans, producing a short impulsive sound in the frequency range of 1.5 to > 24 kHz.  Snapping shrimp have a stereotypical acoustic behaviour where they tend to produce more sound during the night than the day.  They also exhibit seasonal differences, more snaps in summer compared to winter.  However, recent research using high temporal resolution recordings and newly developed analytical techniques has shown that snapping shrimp acoustic behaviour is considerably more complex than first thought.  This research has highlighted that water temperature is playing a key role in their acoustic behaviour.  The aim of the present study is to begin to understand the effects of temperature on the acoustic activity of snapping shrimp.  The summer scholarship will involve collecting animals, designing the experiment and analysing the results.


Craig Radford


Global patterns of biodiversity

Project code:  SCI156

Our research group is working with international collaborators to build on world databases of all marine species and their distribution. Recent and current research is one latitudinal gradients in species richness, mapping marine realms (areas of species endemicity), ecosystems (based on environmental gradients), and biomes (biogenic habitats of plant life-forms). This knowledge is currently being used to design where marine reserves should be located in the Coral Triangle and globally, and predict the effects of climate change on biodiversity. New projects will predict what species are more or less likely to be introduced or become invasive.  By adding species traits to the databases the number of potential analyses and insights is multiplied. Examples of traits are body size, habitat, habit (life-form), pelagic-benthic, diet and trophic level (Costello et al. 2015. Biological and ecological traits of marine species. PeerJ 3:e1201  We’d welcome a student interested in biological diversity and/or working with biological databases to help develop these databases by adding additional information which they would gather from the literature and scholarly online resources. There would also be opportunities for data analysis and working with individual PhD students.


Mark Costello