Integrated Catchment Management

Ecosystem models of Tasman & Golden Bays

 Research Status: Ongoing
Looking across Tasman Bay

Looking across Tasman Bay


Sustainable management of the coastal environment of Tasman Bay is the primary driver for research. The ultimate aim of environmental studies is to develop the ability to predict ecosystem responses to particular events. This can be achieved through the use of predictive models.

The work presently underway in the Motueka ICM programme involves acquiring data describing inflows and ecosystem responses in Tasman Bay. Analyses of these data will reveal functional relationships between events and responses. In other words, a conceptual model of how marine communities in the Bays respond to different events will be determined. For example, it is likely that inflows from the major rivers in the catchments of Tasman and Golden Bays act as a pathway for nutrients to enter the coastal food web. The waters of the Bays are often nutrient depleted, hence additional nutrients from terrestrial sources are likely to result in added biological productivity. The response of suspended phytoplankton and seafloor benthic microalgae is difficult to predict without some understanding of the dominant ecological processes occurring in the Bays. However, these relationships are complex and the result of intricate interrelationships. In most cases a complex numerical model is required in order to aid in unravelling these relationships. Modelled relationships determined for Tasman Bay will also provide insights to catchment implications for the adjoining Golden Bay river plume ecosystems. The model predictions can also be used to guide management of aquaculture management areas that are`positioned within plume-affected areas.

Research Approach

A coupled hydrodynamic circulation and ecosystem model will be configured for the Tasman Bay. The application of the generic models can be performed relatively quickly. However, a significant level of effort is required to incorporate the relationships derived from analyses of the data into the modelling system. Once this has been performed the model must be validated against the known behaviour of the Bay.

Research Results

The major output of this project would be a working, validated ecosystem model of Tasman Bay. This model could be used to elucidate the response of the river plume ecosystem to particular environmental events, for example terrestrial inflows. An additional output would be an operational forecasting system able to predict the response of the Nelson Bays to predicted events.

Delta sampling Paul Gillespie discussing coastal issues at Puketawai

Delta sampling

Paul Gillespie discussing coastal issues at Puketawai

Recent Publications

Year Title File Size
2012 A Summary of Outcomes and selected formal publications from the Integrated Catchment Management (ICM)research programme:2000 – 2011
pdf       1.08MB
2011 Integrated Catchment Management – Special Issue of the NZ Journal of Marine & Freshwater Research  
2010 Spatial Delienation of the Motueka River Plume Influence in Tasman Bay based on Seabed Characteristics pdf       2.33MB
2008 Faecal Indicator Organism Modelling (FIO): Application to Motueka River pdf       1.40MB
2008 Nutrient Loading from the Motueka River into Tasman Bay, 2007 pdf       965KB
More publications on this topic »
All ICM Publications »

Recent Presentations

Year Title File Size
2008 Modelling catchment indicators in the coastal environment pdf       2806KB
2007 Photo of the Motueka plume 597KB
2006 Fine Scale Assessment and River-Sea Links in the Motueka Catchment.  
2005 Coastal Modeling Update pdf       654KB
More presentations on this topic »
All ICM presentations »

BMPs, BEPs and Guidelines

Title Description
Tonga Island Marine Reserve: Proposed protocol for ongoing subtidal biological monitoring This document presents a proposed protocol for ongoing monitoring of the Tonga Island Marine Reserve...More »  
All BMPs, BEPs & Guidelines »

Primary Contacts:

Image - Chris  Batstone Chris  Batstone  EmailSend email to chris.batstone
More details»
Cawthron Institute
resource economics
Image - Paul Gillespie Paul Gillespie  EmailSend email to paul
Phone: 03 548 2319
Fax: 03 546 9464
Cawthron Institute
Estuarine & marine microbial ecology
Image - Ben Knight Ben Knight  EmailSend email to paul
More details»
Cawthron Institute
Biophysical systems specialist
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Page last updated Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Related areas

Tasman Bay productivity