• Academic publication

The Kaikōura earthquake in southern New Zealand: Loss of connectivity of marine communities and the necessity of a cross‐ecosystem perspective

Schiel DR, Alestra T, Gerrity S, Orchard S, Dunmore R, Pirker J, Lilley S, Tait L, Hickford M and Thomsen M (2019)
Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems

  • The Mw 7.8 earthquake that struck the north‐east coast of the South Island of New Zealand in November 2016 caused extensive upheaval, of up to 6 m, over 110 km of coastline. Intertidal habitats were greatly affected with extensive die‐off of algal communities, high mortalities of benthic invertebrates, and greatly reduced ecosystem functioning, such as primary productivity. Only isolated pockets of key species remained in these areas, many of which were within protected areas around Kaikōura.
  • The loss of key species of algae and invertebrates fragmented marine populations and compromised connectivity and recovery processes because of the large dispersal distances needed to replenish populations. Severe sedimentation from terrestrial slips and erosion of newly exposed sedimentary rock compromised settlement and recruitment processes of marine species at many sites, even if distant propagules should arrive.
  • The combination of habitat disruption, loss of species and their functioning, and impacts on commercial fisheries, especially of abalone (Haliotis iris), requires multiple perspectives on recovery dynamics.
  • This paper describes these effects and discusses implications for the recovery of coastal ecosystems that include the essential involvement of mana whenua (indigenous Māori people), fishers, and the wider community, which suffered concomitant economic, recreational, and cultural impacts. These community perspectives will underpin the protection of surviving remnants of intertidal marine populations, the potential use of restoration techniques, and ultimately a successful socio‐ecological recovery.

Coastal, connectivity, earthquake, ecology, impact, kelp, marine