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Source: GNS Science

At least 24 of Waikato’s lakes will be sampled over the next fortnight as part of the nationwide Lakes380 research project designed to better understand the environmental, social and cultural histories of approximately 10% of New Zealand’s 3800 lakes.

This will be the largest sampling campaign of lakes in the Waikato region ever, and project co-leader Dr Susie Wood of Nelson’s Cawthron Institute said the sampling will provide extremely important base-line data that will help us to understand the state of the region’s lake health.

“This is one of the Lakes380 team’s largest sampling efforts yet and we’ll be collecting vital base line data that can be used to shape freshwater policy, catchment management and environmental planning,” Dr Wood said.

Project co-leader Dr Marcus Vandergoes from GNS Science says the sampling process involves collecting both water samples and sediment cores from the lakes.

In our sampling efforts this week, we will be engaging with local Iwi. Iwi are important partners in this project because one of our major goals is to ensure our lakes are valued and protected – now and for generations to come and our ability to do so is greatly enhanced by incorporating mātauranga Māori and indigenous knowledge into the research

Dr Susie Wood

“Lake sediments are natural archives that continuously record environmental history, providing measures of current and historical aquatic communities and water quality. The Lakes380 team use these sediment cores to explore historical shifts in lake health and this is equivalent to centuries of environmental monitoring.

“Because we are capturing 1000 years of lake history with each sample, we are gaining incredible amounts of new knowledge about how and why our lakes have changed over time,” Dr Vandergoes said.

Dr Susie Wood said another important goal of the project is to learn more about the history of the lakes from a social and cultural perspective.

“The results tell us really interesting things like what kinds of plants have grown in and around the lake in the past 1000 years, what kind of animals have lived in them and still live in them, and how human arrival impacted the lake ecosystem.

“In our sampling efforts this week, we will be engaging with local Iwi. Iwi are important partners in this project because one of our major goals is to ensure our lakes are valued and protected – now and for generations to come and our ability to do so is greatly enhanced by incorporating mātauranga Māori and indigenous knowledge into the research,” Dr Wood said.

The research team will also be hosting a school group at Lake Waahi and running a lake sediment analysis workshop with the Partnership Through Collaboration Trust that aims to support Māori youth in the pursuit of science and technology.

MIL OSI