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Sea Keeper Profile: Dr. John Stark

Senior Consultant / Research Scientist Cawthron Institute, Nelson.


Dr. Stark is one of New Zealand's leading authorities on monitoring the health of rivers and lakes by using freshwater macroinvertebrates and fish. He has helped industries and local governments determine how their activities have affected rivers, streams and lakes in many areas of New Zealand.

To give you some idea of the extent of problems faced by New Zealand waterways, some of the activities Dr. Stark has monitored or investigated include the effluent from an Ammonia-Urea Plant, Petralgas, onshore oilwells, oilfield production stations, dairy factories, tanneries, fell-mongeries, Southern Ocean Salmon farm, municipal oxidation pond discharges (e.g. Stratford, Eltham, Inglewood, Hawera, Kaponga, Waverley, Blenheim), landfill leachates and seepages, effects of fine sediments from quarries, alluvial gold-mining and river pipeline crossings.

John is very active and has traveled all over New Zealand surveying the health of water resources. Some of the surveys he has done include documenting macroinvertebrate, fish, algal and macrophyte communities for resource management plans (Waingongoro, Waiwakaiho, Stony, Patea, Waitara, Kapuni, Waimea, Motueka, Riwaka) and a survey of 17 South Island lakes

He developed the first comprehensive biotic index for New Zealand streams and rivers and has examined how current velocity, water depth, substrate, season and flow variation affect biotic index values.

John's innovative methods for determining river health attracted the attention of "Beyond 2000" and they produced an excellent video on how to sample rivers which was shown on New Zealand TV on 19 July 1993.

He has written extensively on the subject of New Zealand's fresh water habitats and the creatures living in them. Of particular interest to serious secondary level students who wish to learn more about water quality monitoring, are the following selected publications

Stark, J.D. 1994. Aquatic entomology and its contribution to sustaining the natural environment. New Zealand Entomological Society Symposium: Entomology for Sustainable Land Use, Auckland 17 May 1994.

Stark, J.D. 1994. Water quality monitoring using the macroinvertebrate community index and the impacts of forestry on aquatic communities. p24-33 in Hira Forest Field Trip Handout, New Zealand Institute of Forestry Conference "NZ Plantation Forestry - a sustainable resource". April 1994.

Stark, J.D. 1993. Performance of the Macroinvertebrate Community Index: Effects of sampling method, sample replication, water depth, current velocity, and substratum on index values. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 27:463-478.

Stark, J.D. 1985. A macroinvertebrate community index of water quality for stony streams. Water & Soil Miscellaneous Publication No.87: 53pp.

Stark, J.D. 1980. A cylinder-sampler for collecting the invertebrate fauna of submerged aquatic vegetation. Mauri Ora 8: 45-53.


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