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Marine climate refugees: will NZ reefs be a refuge?

Past Event
Wed 27 Sep, 6pm
Auditorium, Free

Celebrate 150 years of the Royal Society of New Zealand and learn about the ever-increasing effects of climate change in this lecture from scientists Dr David Aguirre and Dr Libby Liggins.

New Zealand’s coast currently spans the sub-Antarctic to the sub-tropical, but can we expect these marine environments to retain their biodiversity in the face of climate change? Globally there is evidence for the increasing ‘tropicalisation’ of cooler waters, as tropical and sub-tropical marine species extend their ranges into higher latitudes. However, for some species, will these new high latitude homes provide a refuge against the hostile conditions they are currently experiencing in the tropics?

Kermadec Islands

Kermadec Islands

Irene Middleton

Coral reefs are one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, and provide valuable services for hundreds of millions of people around the world. For coral reef ecosystems to persist in the future, they may rely on high latitude locations that provide a safe haven. Our own Kermadec Islands host one of the highest latitude coral reef communities in the world, and could become a stronghold for some of these coral species.

Join Dr David Aguirre and Dr Libby Liggins to hear about the impacts of climate change on coral reefs and the distribution of marine species, including our own marine biodiversity in the Kermadec Islands and northeast New Zealand. They will share their views on what changes we are likely to witness in our shallow reef communities, for instance, will brightly coloured fishes, tropical urchins and sea stars become more common place along New Zealand’s coastlines?

The lecture will be preceded by a presentation by Professor Richard Bedford, President of the Royal Society Te Apārangi, on the significance of the Society’s 150 years of Discovery.

Dr. David Aguirre is a lecturer in marine ecology at Massey University in Albany. After years living and studying overseas he returned to New Zealand to make a contribution to advancing our understanding of the forces governing the distribution of marine organisms surrounding our island nation.

Dr. Libby Liggins grew up with the coastal waters of Northland, New Zealand as her playground. She has lived in Australia and the USA working on tropical reefs of the Indo-Pacific Ocean. She is now a Rutherford Foundation New Zealand Postdoctoral Fellow at Massey University, Auckland where she is conducting research studying the tropical-subtropical-temperate transitions of marine communities and populations into New Zealand waters.

This lecture is a part of the Royal Society Te Apārangi 150th Anniversary Regional Lectures - Future Focused Local Experts.

Booking information

Bookings via the RSNZ Website.