Professor Conrad Pilditch

Professor (Biological Sciences)

Qualifications: MSc Otago PhD Dalhousie

Personal Website:

About Conrad

Since joining the Department of Biological Sciences I have lectured primarily in the area of marine ecology and oceanography. In addition to coordinating the marine ecology courses (see below) I also contribute to undergraduate courses in environmental science (ENVS101) and ecology (BIOL212).

I maintain an active student research laboratory and really enjoy helping them develop as scientists.  I am looking for new students to join the laboratory and welcome inquires.

When not working I enjoy traveling with my family and outdoor activities. I am a keen (but not very good) surfer, enjoy diving, sailing and hiking.

Honours and Disctinctions

  • ASLO DIALOG III Participant (1999)
  • Elected New Zealand Marine Sciences Society elected council member (1999-2002, 2006-)
  • Editorial advisory board for New Zealand Journal of Marine & Freshwater Research

Membership of professional and learned societies

  • New Zealand Marine Sciences Society since 1989
  • American Society for Limnology and Oceanography since 1991
  • Oceanography Society since 1998

Contribution to wider community

  • Independent expert in various technical working groups co-ordinate by Environment Waikato, Auckland Regional Council and Department of Conservation to assess impacts of human activities on coastal environments.
  • Provide expert reviews of research proposals for funding agencies in the UK, USA and Chile, regular reviewer for leading marine ecology journals.
  • Assisted iwi groups to establish coastal monitoring programs and provided advice on environmental issues.
  • Participated in national workshops on marine conservation and classification of the marine environment.
  • Communicated the results of scientific research to the general public via numerous talks to community groups (e.g. Forest and Bird Society, high school students) and publication of popular articles.
  • Co-convener of the New Zealand Marine Sciences Society annual meeting in 2000 & 2007.

Research Interests

My area of speciality is benthic oceanography/ecology focusing on the processes that influence the structure and function of soft-sediment communities. Specifically, I am interested in how hydrodynamics and benthic organisms interact to affect sediment transport, recruitment, nutrient fluxes and food supply. Together with colleagues and students, research has been conducted in a wide range of environments ranging from the inter-tidal to the deep sea, a reflection of the extensive occurrence of soft-sediment habitats.

Research Supervised


  • Douglas, Emily (in progress). Resilience and response of estuaries to nutrient enrichment.
  • Drylie, Tarn (in progress). The effects of low level disturbances on coastal soft sediment biodiversity and ecosystem function.
  • Gladstone-Gallagher, Rebecca (submitted). The role of cross-boundary subsides of macrophyte detritus in soft sediment ecosystem function.
  • Monahan, Bradley (in progress). Dispersal and ecological connectivity of Austrovenus stutchburyi and Paphies australis larvae in Tauranga Harbour.
  • Niemand, Clarisse (in progress). The impact of macroalgal mats on the biodiversity and ecosystem functioning of benthic communities.
  • Harris, Rachel (2015). The effects of benthic organisms on intertidal sediment erodibility.
  • Pratt, Daniel (2014). Changes in benthic ecosystem properties and functions across sedimentary gradients in estuaries.
  • Needham, Hazel (2011). The context-specific roles of a bioturbating crab (Austrohelice crassa) on ecosystem functioning.
  • Ross, Phillip (2011). The genetic structure of New Zealand's coastal benthos: using the estuarine clam Austrovenus stutchburyi, to determine rates of gene flow and population connectivity.
  • Knox, Matthew (2012). Diversity of New Zealand deep-sea amphipoda.
  • Jones, Hannah (2011). The ecological role of the suspension feeding bivalve, Austrovenus stutchburyi, in estuarine ecosystems.
  • Dos Santos, Virginie (2011). Impacts of black swans grazing and anthropogenic contaminants on New Zealand seagrass meadows.
  • Burger , David (2006). Dynamics of internal nutrient loading in a eutrophic, polymictic lake (Lake Rotorua, New Zealand).
  • Giles, Hilke (2006). Dispersal and remineralisation of biodeposits: Ecosystem impacts of mussel aquaculture.

MSc (Research)

  • Hughes, Ryan (2016). The coupled effects of shading and nutrient loading on the morphology, growth, and association macrofauna of seagrass meadows.
  • Cooper, Jordan (2015). Does seagrass influence the behavioural and physiological response to flow in juvenile snapper (Pagrus auratus)?
  • Hines, Laura (2015). Effects of macrofauna diversity on porewater nutrient concentrations following enrichment.


  • Gladstone-Gallagher, Rebecca (2013). Production and decay of mangrove (Avicennia marina subsp. australasica) detritus and its effects on coastal benthic  communities.
  • McCartain, Lisa (2013). The effects of terrigenous sediment on the behaviour of Macomona liliana (Bivalvia) in permeable sediments: implications for porewater exchange.
  • Greenfield, Barry (2013). Spatial variation in functional group diversity in a sandflat benthic community: implications for ecosystem resilience.
  • Gibson, Aimee (2009). Seasonal variation in bivalve antioxidant enzymes: can they be used as indicators of heavy metal contamination?
  • Niemand, Clarisse (2009). The application of elemental fingerprinting techniques to identify population connectivity using Austrovenus stutchburyi recruits.
  • Simpson, Julia (2009). Effects of heavy metal contamination on burial rates of Austrovenus stutchburyi: implications for sediment transport.
  • Hailes, Sarah (2006). Contribution of seagrass (Zostera muelleri) to estuarine food webs revealed by carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analysis
  • Sandwell, Dean (2006). Austrovenus stutchburyi, regulators of estuarine benthic-pelagic coupling.

Teaching Commitments

Recent Publications

  • Houlihan, E. P., Cornwall, C. E., Lamare, M., & Pilditch, C. (2019). The effects of coralline-algal diffusion boundary layers on juvenile sea urchin, Pseudechinus huttoni, under ocean acidification. In 12th Annual New Zealand Ocean Acidification Community Workshop. Conference held at Otago Museum, Dunedin, New Zealand.

  • Drylie, T. P., Pilditch, C., Needham, H. R., Hartland, A., & Lohrer, D. M. (2019). Calcium carbonate alters the functional resilience of coastal sediments to eutrophication-induced acidification. In 12th Annual New Zealand Ocean Acidification Community Workshop. Conference held at Otago Museum, Dunedin, New Zealand.

  • Vopel, K., Laverock, B., Pilditch, C., & Cary, S. C. (2019). Effect of experimental seawater CO2 enrichment on pH in subtidal, net-heterotrophic silt deposits. In 12th Annual New Zealand Ocean Acidification Community Workshop. Conference held at Otago Museum, Dunedin, New Zealand.

  • Brandt, S., Marshall, A., Lee, C., Hartland, A., Laverock, B., Vopel, K., . . . Cary, S. C. (2019). The effects of ocean acidification on microbial nutrient cycling and productivity in coastal marine sediments. In 12th Annual New Zealand Ocean Acidification Community Workshop. Conference held at Otago Museum, Dunedin, New Zealand.

View All research publications by Conrad Pilditch

Contact Details

Room: R.2.20
Phone: +64 7 838 4466 ext 6132