Oral Presentation NCGRT/IAH Australasian Groundwater Conference 2019

All creatures great and small - a case  study of stygofauna from an agricultural field site in Canterbury, New Zealand (161)

Annette Bolton 1 , Louise Weaver 1 , Phil Abraham 1
  1. Institute of Environmental Science and Research Limited (ESR), Ilam, Christchurch, New Zealand

Biologically, groundwater ecosystems remain one of the most understudied systems in New Zealand. As well as the nature of sampling methodologies and accessibility to suitable sampling sites, there are also challenges due to taxonomic capability. However, information and new sampling techniques are rapidly being generated from this emerging area. We present a site-specific study from Canterbury, containing several wells from the same aquifer that have been sampled for biodiversity, including traditional and molecular techniques.


To compare the biodiversity of several wells from the same aquifer, and compare with environmental and sampling parameters. 

Design and Methodology  

Groundwater samples from a number of different wells from within the same aquifer were collected using a pump or hand netting method. Samples were all collected on the same day across different seasons. Sub-samples were stored for water chemistry and stygofauna were identified using traditional and molecular techniques.

Original Data and Results

Biodiversity amongst several sites from the same aquifer is variable. There was a relationship between water chemistry and biodiversity. Sampling technique can bias the animals collected. Smaller animals are difficult to identify.


Our study suggests that several sites are required to sample groundwater biodiversity and careful consideration of environmental parameters should be determined beforehand, to prescribe representative sampling locations. Smaller meio-fauna, require further sampling protocols, and DNA-barcoding may be a more efficient way to measure their biodiversity.