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ECO SYSTEM: Research on Lyttelton Harbour’s reefs has unearthed some interesting results.

A JAPANESE algae which invaded Lyttelton Harbour in the mid-80s has not had the negative effect it could have.

That is one of the outcomes of research into the harbour’s reefs, carried out by Dr Tommaso Alestra and Dr Mads Thomsen of Canterbury University’s marine ecology research group.

Dr Thomsen researched the seaweed Undaria pinnatifida and looked at how it effected other marine organisms as it is considered an invasive algae. “We found that Undaria is not so terrible to the other algae and they co-exist quite nicely, so it’s interesting to see such an abundance of Undaria that doesn’t seem to have a great impact on other algae,” Dr Alestra (left) said. Last year, Environment Canterb kdh i l i bury asked the marine ecologists to write a report on intertidal reefs, which is the area above water at low tide and under water at high tide.

The pair went around the harbour’s rocky reefs looking at what was there, what species were there like algae and animals and how abundant they were. “Extensive research on these reefs have never been done before,” Dr Alestra said. Dr Alestra also looked at how Undaria interacted with mussels.

“Undaria seems to be there and very abundant, but it doesn’t seem to do much, which is quite a surprising result and contrasts to other research out there,” he said.

They’ll be sharing their surprising discoveries in a public meeting next week. The ecologists will discuss the biodiversity on the reefs, with special emphasis on marine organisms they say are often overlooked but are essential to the ecosystem.

It will also be an opportunity for residents to hear about the marine life on their doorsteps and to ask informal questions. “It’ll be good to see how our research is welcomed by the community.

I think people will take a lot out of it and maybe they’ll get a better understanding and appreciation of what’s out there because we were really surprised with the diversity of the harbour – we didn’t expect to find so much,” Dr Alestra said. The meeting will be held at the Governors Bay Fire Station on October 25 from 7 to 8.30pm.