Biodiversity

The cross-domain area of biodiversity covers our indigenous (native) plant and animal species of the land, freshwater, and marine environments. It also considers exotic plant and animal species (pest plants and animals as well as farmed plants and animals).

Find out about the state of our biodiversity, the pressures that contribute to this state, and the impact on us.

Latest news
See Biodiversity domain updates for the latest news on biodiversity domain indicators.

  • Rare ecosystems

    Rare ecosystems either naturally cover very small areas or have very little of their original extent remaining. Their conservation priority is determined by their threat of extinction. 

  • Marine trophic index: Chatham Rise

    The marine trophic index measures the changing abundance and diversity of demersal fish species (living and feeding on or near the seabed) in fishery catches. The Chatham Rise has more than 180 species of fish.

  • Primary productivity

    Phytoplankton are primary producers of biomass and form the basis of the oceans’ food chains. They use a pigment called chlorophyll-a (chl-a) to create their own food through photosynthesis.

  • Bycatch of protected species: seabirds

    Seabirds are one of the protected species most directly affected by fisheries in New Zealand waters. Estimating seabird deaths from bycatch is one way of assessing the pressure some seabird species face from current fishing practices. 

  • Bycatch of protected species: Hector’s and Māui dolphins

    The Hector’s and Māui dolphins are endemic to New Zealand. Reporting the bycatch of protected species helps us understand the pressures our protected marine species face from fishing.

  • Bycatch of fish and invertebrates

    The bycatch, or unintended catch, of marine species other than the target species puts pressure on marine species’ populations by removing individuals or potentially modifying ecosystems.

  • Conservation status of seabirds and shorebirds

    New Zealand has 92 seabird and 14 shorebird species and subspecies (taxa) – the highest number of endemic seabirds (found only in a particular area) in the world. Decreasing bird populations can signal the ecosystem is degrading.  

  • Wetland extent

    Wetlands support unique biodiversity and provide important services. They clean water of excess nutrients and sediment, help absorb floodwaters, and act as carbon sinks (remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere).

  • Conservation status of marine mammals

    New Zealand has a diverse range of marine mammal species. Marine mammals are indicator species for the state of our marine environment.

  • State of fish stocks

    Our fish stocks are affected by commercial, customary, and recreational fishing, and environmental pressures (eg ocean temperature, acidity, and productivity).

  • Commercial catch: sharks and rays

    New Zealand waters have at least 117 species of chondrichthyans (sharks, rays, and other cartilaginous fish species). 

  • Commercial seabed trawling and dredging

    Seabed trawling is the practice of towing fishing nets near or along the ocean floor. The towing process can physically damage seabed (benthic) habitats and species.

  • Commercial coastal seabed trawling and dredging

    Seabed trawling, when fishing nets are towed near and along the ocean floor, can physically damage seabed (benthic) habitats and species. 

  • Coastal habitats

    New Zealand has a diverse coastline that is 15,000km long. Reporting on our coastal seabed habitats helps us understand the state of the marine environment.

  • Marine environments

    New Zealand has a marine area of more than 4 million km2. Reporting on the different environments within our marine waters helps us understand the overall state of the marine domain.

  • Protection in the marine environment

    New Zealand’s 4 million km2 marine environment is diverse, with a range of coastal habitats and offshore seabed environments. 

  • Marine non-indigenous species

    The potential impact of non-indigenous species on our native habitats and species means they could threaten our cultural and natural heritage, as well as economic activities such as commercial and recreational fishing.

  • Conservation status of native freshwater fish and invertebrates

    The conservation status of a species represents their risk of extinction. New Zealand has a diverse range of native freshwater fish and invertebrates, many of which are endemic (found nowhere else in the world) and have localised distributions.

  • Freshwater pests

    Freshwater plant and animal pests can reduce the indigenous biodiversity through predation, competition for food and habitat, and by damaging aquatic habitats.

  • Trends in freshwater fish

     Freshwater fish are an important component of freshwater ecosystems and have high cultural, commercial, recreational, and intrinsic biodiversity value.

  • Freshwater plants and animals

    Freshwater plants and animals are fundamental to the health of our freshwater environments.

  • Human-caused threats to marine habitats

    Human activities can harm marine habitats. These activities can affect habitats directly (eg seabed trawling) or indirectly (eg sediment or contaminant run-off from farm land or cities). Threats can be local (eg sedimentation in an estuary) or global (eg carbon dioxide emissions driving ocean acidification).

  • Land pests

    Animal and plant pests are one of the biggest threats to biodiversity in the land environment. Pest predators, other animal pests (such as deer and goats) and pest plants can dramatically change our indigenous and agricultural environments. 

  • Bird species on public conservation land

    The status of our bird communities is an important indicator of the condition of our ecosystems. Many indigenous birds play key ecological roles, including dispersing seeds and pollinating flowers.

  • Status of widespread indigenous trees

    Eight indigenous tree species, spanning a range of ecological niches, were surveyed twice between 2002 and 2014. Monitoring the status and trends of these tree species helps us detect large-scale, long-term changes and problems for our forest ecosystems.

  • Indigenous cover and protection in land environments

    New Zealand’s land area has been divided into 500 land environments, each defined by their unique climate, topography, and soils.

  • Land cover

    Land cover describes the extent of vegetation, water bodies, built environments, and bare natural surfaces (eg gravel and rock) across New Zealand.

  • Changes in conservation status of indigenous species

    The number of indigenous animal and plant species with a change in conservation status is reported as an impact of changes in the state of our freshwater, land, and marine environments.

  • Distribution of indigenous trees

    The rates of establishment (recruitment) and death (mortality) of indigenous tree species vary across New Zealand. Changes in the state of the environment may change the rates of recruitment and mortality of particular tree species.  

  • Pest impacts on indigenous trees

    Deer, goats, and possums are animal pests in New Zealand. The species of trees they prefer to eat may become locally extinct and nationally much rarer than less palatable species.

Image, Biodiversity domain.
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