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Biosystematics of New Zealand Fishes

Te Papa researchers: Dr Clive Roberts, Andrew Stewart, Carl Struthers, Jeremy Barker, Salme Kortet (Te Papa Fish Team); Peter McMillan (Honorary Research Associate)

Fishes occupy a significant place in our nation’s psyche, from a day out fishing, playing in rock pools, through to commercial fishing, and to fishing programmes on TV. However, with increasing pressure on the aquatic environment from climate change, ocean warming, marine pollution, and over-exploitation of fish stocks, research that delivers full and accurate taxonomic documentation of biodiversity and species richness around the world, including under-studied areas such as New Zealand, is becoming ever more urgent in order to successfully monitor, mitigate and manage these major problems.

The main aim of our project is to carry out biosystematic investigations on New Zealand EEZ/ECS fishes in order to facilitate their accurate identification. This is done through collection based systematic research and understanding of the origins and distributions of fishes in NZ EEZ/ECS and surrounding oceans. Our work will provide scientific descriptions of new species and new records of fishes for New Zealand region; research papers, popular articles, identification workshops, conference presentations. This will culminate in future updates to the award winning The Fishes of New Zealand, a comprehensive illustrated guidebook to all known New Zealand fishes published by Te Papa Press in 2015. 

Main collaborators: Wendy Nelson and other NIWA taxonomists, and further specialists from New Zealand and overseas.

Funding: NIWA–Te Papa Research Contract: Strategic Science Investment Fund, Coasts and Oceans Programme 2, Biological Resources.

Representative publications:

Gill AC, Roberts CD. 2020. Plectranthias cruentus, a new species of anthiadine perchlet (Teleostei: Serranidae) from the Lord Howe Rise, Tasman Sea. Zootaxa 4750: 560-566.

Eme D, Liggins L, Struthers CD, Roberts CD, Anderson MJ. 2019. An integrated pathway for building spatially explicit phylogenies for ecological studies. Global Ecology and Biogeography 28: 1899-1911.

McMillan PJ, Francis MP, James GD, Paul, LJ, Marriott P, Mackay EJ, Wood BA, Stevens DW, Griggs LH, Baird SJ, Roberts CD, Stewart AL, Struthers CD. 2019. New Zealand Fishes: a field guide to common species caught by bottom, midwater, and surface fishing. NZ Aquatic Environment & Biodiversity Report 208: 1-295.