Find out more about the people behind Cawthron Institute.

David Kelly

Team Leader – Freshwater Fisheries

Qualifications

  • PhD (Freshwater Ecology and Environmental Sciences). University of Alberta, Canada, 2001
  • BSc (Biology). University of Victoria, Canada, 1994

Role at Cawthron

David is a senior scientist in Cawthron’s Coastal and Freshwater Group. His key areas of expertise include:

  • water quality monitoring and modelling 
  • lake ecology • native fisheries ecology and foodwebs 
  • benthic community ecology. 

David has been a key member of central government programmes to effectively manage and monitor freshwater. He has served on lake ecosystem technical advisory groups, science advisory panels and steering committees for National Environmental Monitoring and Reporting (NEMaR). He also played a central role in setting environmental limits – as part of the Land and Water Forum projects – and National Environmental Standards (draft National Environmental Standard on Ecological Flows and Water Levels).

He has considerable experience presenting technical evidence in court (including large cases) such as:

  • Horizons Regional Council’s One Plan 
  • proposed Mokihinui Hydro Project (Meridian Ltd) 
  • Matihina Dam re-consenting (TrustPower Ltd) 
  • Maitai Dam re-consenting (Nelson City Council) 
  • Upper Waitaki Basin land-use intensification applications. 

David is a very keen outdoorsman. He became a biologist because of his love of the outdoors and his conviction that we must manage our environment sustainably for future generations to enjoy. His non-work pursuits are mostly based around enjoying water, including fly fishing, kayaking, scuba diving and boating.

Before joining Cawthron in 2012, he worked for the Department of Conservation’s research and development group and in NIWA’s freshwater ecosystems team in Christchurch.

Technical skills, experience and interests

  • Water quality  
  • Freshwater monitoring and indicators 
  • Fisheries and foodwebs 
  • Ecological modelling
  • Invasive species 
  • Stable isotope analyses 
  • Benthic ecology 
  • Scientific diver – Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (since 2003) 
  • Qualified skipper – Maritime NZ Master of small research vessel 
  • Qualified electric fishing machine operator 
  • Field first aid provider 

Professional affiliations 

  • New Zealand Freshwater Sciences Society 
  • Society for Freshwater Sciences 

Publication links