Butchers Dam, Central Otago. Photo courtesy of Cynthia Winkworth

Catchments Otago researchers span four sub-themes: biodiversity, health, water movement, and society.


Where there is water, there is life. This sub-theme focusses on plant and animal biodiversity within catchments, how they relate to their catchments, are affected by their catchments and alter their catchments. 

Barbara Barratt

Carolyn Burns

Gerry Closs - Steering Committee representative

Nicolas Cullen

Kath Dickinson - Steering Committee representative

Peter Dillingham

Claire Freeman

Stephanie Godfrey

Travis Ingram

Jenny Jandt

Simone Langhans

Janice Lord

James Maclaurin

Christoph Matthaei

Ralf Ohlemuller

Marc Schallenberg

Phil Seddon - Steering Committee representative

Yolanda van Heezik

Peter Whigham

Health and Water quality

This sub-theme encompasses research on environmental stressors and how they can impact widely on health; animal, human, ecosystem and environmental. Clearly human and environmental health issues result from contaminated water and our goal is to minimise these negative human health effects using innovative and multidisciplinary solutions. Similarly though, animals and overall ecosystem health can also be impacted from contaminated water, leading to altered states of environmental health that may or may not be problematic in a catchment. By understanding specific contaminant effects on animals and ecosystems we can work towards implementing strategies beneficial to overall catchment health and thus, a healthy environment. 

Michael Baker

Stephanie Godfrey

Rhonda Rosengren - Steering Committee representative

Cynthia Winkworth - Steering Committee representative

Water movement

Water underpins the state, health, and sustainability of the Clutha catchment – from atmospheric water vapour to liquid in soils and rivers, and frozen water in snow and glaciers. Effective catchment management requires a sound understanding of how water cycles between these different forms in time and space. Towards this goal, this sub-theme of Catchments Otago is focused on several aspects of the water cycle in the Clutha catchment, with the aim of characterising and understanding the spatio-temporal distribution of this resource. This involves cross-disciplinary expertise leveraging modern observational and modelling techniques to link climatology, glaciology, snow science, hydrology, soil and vegetation science.

Nicolas Cullen

Christina Hulbe

Daniel Kingston 

Sarah Mager

Candace Martin

Pascal Sirguey - Steering Committee representative

Mick Strack - Steering Committee representative

Peter Whigham


The river, lakes and catchments of the South hold a special place in the history, society and economy of Aotearoa New Zealand. This sub-theme focuses on the relationship between people and the catchments of Otago and its surrounding regions, and supporting balanced choices for the future. This relationship is exemplified in tourism in the southern catchments; the expectations of public access to rivers and lakes in the catchments; the legal recognition of rights and responsibilities, and the competing claims and interests, to or in water in the southern rivers and lakes; Ngāi Tahu claims and Treaty of Waitangi settlements including rivers, lakes, and other treasured places in the southern catchments; and planning approaches to waterway and watershed management.

Anna Carr 

Lisa Ellis

David Eyers - Steering Committee representative

Claire Freeman

Simone Langhans

Brent Lovelock 

Damien Mather - Steering Committee representative

Antoni (Tony) Moore

Jacinta Ruru

Phil Seddon - Steering Committee representative

Janet Stephenson

Mick Strack - Steering Committee representative

Yolanda van Heezik

Sara Walton

Nicola Wheen - Steering Committee representative

Peter Whigham

Mara Wolkenhauer