Ecosystem models

Depth layer mapping of Tasman and Golden Bays. © Vidette McGregor, NIWA

We are developing simulation models for the Tasman and Golden Bays marine ecosystem to test what is likely to happen in different scenarios. 

Project leader: Ian Tuck, NIWA

Duration: May 2016 – June 2019 
Budget: $1,495,000 
Status: Ongoing 

We have put together and validated an ecosystem model using the Atlantis framework. The Atlantis model is a computer representation of the Tasman and Golden Bays area that can be used to mimic, and help understand, dynamics and flow-on effects from changes in the environment or its management. It encompasses everything from sunlight and nutrients through to predators and fisheries. It allows researchers and decision-makers to test different scenarios to understand effects on the whole ecosystem.  

We have engaged with regional council representatives, Māori, marine managers, and a range of stakeholders, to understand their concerns relating to the marine environment in Tasman and Golden Bays. The model has been used to explore the implications of a range of environmental and management scenarios. For example, our results suggest that the collapse of scallop populations in the region is not associated with scallop harvesting, but changes in habitat suitability. 

We have also built a food-web model and are developing a size-based ecosystem model for exploring scenarios. We will investigate ways to compare these modelling approaches and explore which are the most useful to answer specific questions. When our project is complete we will be able to advise which model to use depending on the criteria. 

This work is strongly linked with the Participatory Tools project which is developing web-based tools so people can interface with model outputs to support decision-making. 

Journal articles

 

Latest news and updates

Interview: Stew Robertson, Abel Tasman Ecotours/Tasman Bay Guardians

Stew Robertson has been a participant in research workshops for projects focused in Tasman-Golden Bay. He is involved with the Nelson Biodiversity Forum and founded the Tasman Bay Guardians in 2017.

Understanding food webs to help manage coastal resources

A study of coastal food webs has revealed how ecosystem-based approaches to marine management could improve management of fish stocks and biodiversity in our changing coastal ocean.

Sharing our latest sedimentation science

In a workshop hosted in Wellington in early May, NIWA and Victoria University of Wellington researchers shared their latest findings on the effects of sediment on both shallow water and deep-sea species with iwi and stakeholders.