Team Leader – Restoration Ecology
Role at Cawthron
Dana is a marine ecologist and leads the Restoration Ecology Team at Cawthron. Her research aims to understand the drivers of change in coastal ecosystems to enable better management and thus protect or restore the commercial, social and environmental services these ecosystems provide.
She uses statistical, molecular and GIS methods to develop applied tools for coastal management. Recent work includes the development of the National Benthic Health Models for estuary health assessment; eDNA-based biomonitoring tools; a cumulative impact index for Tauranga Harbour; and spatially explicit models to map ecosystem service provision. She is also developing new approaches for low impact seagrass restoration in Aotearoa.
Dana has roles within several Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge projects: Communicating Risk and Uncertainty, Building a Seaweed Sector, Tipping Points, Measuring Ecosystem Services and Synthesis of Tasman and Golden Bay Research. Within the Risk and Uncertainty project, she is assessing the suitability of risk assessment tools to support decision-making in an Ecosystem-Based Management context and leading a case study with a Māori-owned fishing company. As part of the Tipping Points project, she led the Top of the South component of Aotearoa’s first national-scale marine experiment, which assessed the cumulative effects of multiple stressors in estuaries.
She was a key researcher in two cross-cultural, multi-disciplinary research programmes that collectively spanned 10 years (Manaaki Taha Moana and Oranga Taiao Oranga Tangata). Through partnerships with Manaaki Te Awanui and Taiao Raukawa, these projects developed tools to empower tangata whenua in the co-management and restoration of coastal areas. Dana’s role was to provide the ecological expertise to underpin tool development, delivering western science that gave voice to the te ao Māori worldview.
Dana also carries out work for a range of commercial clients including environmental impact assessments and monitoring associated with aquaculture, ports, power companies, and outfalls. She has expertise in both soft-sediment and rocky reef environments and is a certified New Zealand Occupational Diver.
Technical skills, experience and interests
- Linkages between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning
- Multiple stressor effects on soft-sediment and rocky reef communities
- Development of coastal health indicators
- Design and implementation of ecological monitoring programmes
- Marine and coastal ecosystem service valuation
- Environmental Impact Assessments
- Marine Spatial Planning
- Effects of aquaculture on benthic habitats
- Senior Editor, New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research
- Immediate Past Secretary of the New Zealand Marine Science Society
- New Zealand Coastal Society member
- PhD (Biological Sciences), University of Waikato, 2021
- MSc (Distinction, Marine Science). University of Otago, 2009
- BSc (Zoology). University of Otago, 2007