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Associate Professor Candida Savage

Contact detailsCandidaSavage

Office Portobello Marine Laboratory, room 210
Tel +64 3 479 8324
Email candida.savage@otago.ac.nz

Academic qualifications

MSc (Cape Town)
PhD (Stockholm)

Research interests

  • Marine ecology
  • Coastal and Estuarine ecosystems
  • Nutrient cycling
  • Palaeoecology

I am a marine ecologist with a focus on human impacts in coastal and estuarine ecosystems. My research group investigates drivers of change in marine ecosystems and combines field and laboratory studies to understand how multiple stressors affect food web structure and biogeochemical cycling in coastal ecosystems.

I am also a member of the Coastal People: Southern Skies collaboration that connects communities with world-leading, cross-discipline research to rebuild coastal ecosystems.
Coastal People: Southern Skies

Courses

  • MARI 301 Marine Ecology and Ecosystems (course co-ordinator)
  • MARI 450 Special Topic: Applied Estuarine Ecology (course co-ordinator)

Research projects

Land-coast coupling

Investigating linkages between land-use changes (in particular intensification of farming practices), in South Island, New Zealand, and ecological and biogeochemical shifts in recipient estuaries.

We have constructed nitrogen loading models for the South Island to estimate nutrient flux to estuaries based on different land use practices in the catchment. Stable isotope ratios in an opportunistic seaweed species reflected these different nitrogen loading regimes, providing a good indicator of local nutrient sources. We also documented shifts in growth rates of select bivalves and fishes and recorded changes in organic matter sources that support secondary consumers in the estuaries with greater nitrogen loads. To groundtruth the field surveys and transplant experiments, we have conducted laboratory experiments to quantify nutrient uptake and tissue turnover rates in select organisms. This research was supported by a Ministry of Fisheries Biodiversity Research grant.

Nutrient cycling

We currently investigate spatial and temporal variation in rates of benthic denitrification in estuaries subject to different nitrogen loading regimes. This research aims to quantify nitrogen removal rates in pristine as well as nutrient enriched estuaries in South Island, New Zealand, and to investigate physicochemical and biological factors that correlate with coupled and direct denitrification. This research is supported by PBRF money made available to C. Savage.

Our research team also conducts work on nutrient fluxes and oxygen dynamics in subtidal sediments impacted by high organic matter loading from mussel farm deposits. In particular, we have a project on the potential of a bioturbator (sea cucumber) for the remediation of mussel impacted sediment. This work forms a component of a larger integrated aquaculture project with NIWA.

Palaeoecology

In order to understand the influence of humans against a background of natural variability in marine ecosystems, we have employed palaeoecological techniques to reconstruct historical changes in pristine and impacted coastal systems. In Fiordland, we use biomarkers (e.g., stable isotopes, pigments, lignin, BIT index), in water column samples and sedimentary records to reconstruct long-term change in productivity and organic matter sources to the fjords.

Part of this research involves identifying suitable biomarkers as proxies of refractory terrestrial organic matter and marine organic matter. Research is also underway to understand mechanisms that affect these proxies (particularly phytoplankton pigments) as they settle out of the water column and are incorporated into the sedimentary record. This research has been supported by University of Otago Research Grants and PBRF funds.

Coral reef ecosystems

My research has recently expanded to the tropical Pacific, where I am interested in how multiple stressors affect coral reef ecosystems. In particular, I am interested in how alterations in physicochemical factors (temperature, salinity, light environment), individually and combined, affect carbon cycling and implications of this for climate change.

Current postgraduate students

  • Saskia Foreman, MSc: How multiple anthropogenic stressors impact the feeding and reproductive fitness of an estuarine amphipod
  • Elli Leinikki, PhD: Influence of shellfish on recovery dynamics in intertidal estuaries in New Zealand
  • Daniel Smart, PhD: The biology and ecology of early life stages of marine invertebrates living within diffusion boundary layers and the potential impacts of climate change

Completed postgraduate students

  • Josie Crawshaw - Thesis Title (PhD): Sinks of agriculturally derived nitrogen in coastal lagoons
  • Ben Robertson - Thesis Title (PhD): Development of a cost-effective trophic state assessment protocol for shallow, temperate, tidal lagoon estuaries
  • Sam Thomas - Thesis Title (PhD): The effects of multiple stressors on ecosystem functioning across a changing turbidity gradient in South Island estuaries

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Publications

Thomas, S., Pilditch, C. A., Thrush, S. F., & Savage, C. (2022). Ecosystem function responses to nutrient enrichment mediated by mud content in soft sediment habitats. New Zealand Journal of Marine & Freshwater Research. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/00288330.2022.2102043

Källberg Normark, L., Liénart, C., Pillay, D., Garbaras, A., Savage, C., & Karlson, A. M. L. (2022). Isotopic niche size variability in an ecosystem engineer along a disturbance gradient in a South African lagoon. Marine Environmental Research, 173, 105541. doi: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2021.105541

Robertson, B. P., & Savage, C. (2021). Thresholds in catchment nitrogen load for shifts from seagrass to nuisance macroalgae in shallow intertidal estuaries. Limnology & Oceanography, 66, 1353-1366. doi: 10.1002/lno.11689

Thrush, S. F., Hewitt, J. E., Gladstone-Gallagher, R. V., Savage, C., Lundquist, C., O'Meara, T., … Pilditch, C. (2021). Cumulative stressors reduce the self-regulating capacity of coastal ecosystems. Ecological Applications, 31(1), e02223. doi: 10.1002/eap.2223

Karlson, A. M. L., Pilditch, C. A., Probert, P. K., Leduc, D., & Savage, C. (2021). Large infaunal bivalves determine community uptake of macroalgal detritus and food web pathways. Ecosystems, 24(2), 384-402. doi: 10.1007/s10021-020-00524-5

Snowball, I., Lehoux, A. P., Crawshaw, J., Savage, C., Hipsey, M. R., Ghadouani, A., … Oldham, C. E. (2019). Pollution from land-based sources. In E. J. Techera & G. Winter (Eds.), Marine extremes: Ocean safety, marine health and the blue economy. (pp. 106-122). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Chapter in Book - Research

Savage, C. (2009). Marine sources of Omega-3: Is their future in aquaculture? In T. K. Nakamura (Ed.), Aquaculture research progress. (pp. 169-197). New York: Nova Science.

Chapter in Book - Research

Ballagh, R. J., & Savage, C. M. (2000). The theory of atom lasers. In C. M. Savage & M. P. Das (Eds.), Proceedings of the Thirteenth Physics Summer School: Bose-Einstein Condensation: Atomic Physics to Quantum Fluids. (pp. 153-188). Singapore: World Scientific.

Chapter in Book - Research

Källberg Normark, L., Liénart, C., Pillay, D., Garbaras, A., Savage, C., & Karlson, A. M. L. (2022). Isotopic niche size variability in an ecosystem engineer along a disturbance gradient in a South African lagoon. Marine Environmental Research, 173, 105541. doi: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2021.105541

Journal - Research Article

Thomas, S., Pilditch, C. A., Thrush, S. F., & Savage, C. (2022). Ecosystem function responses to nutrient enrichment mediated by mud content in soft sediment habitats. New Zealand Journal of Marine & Freshwater Research. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/00288330.2022.2102043

Journal - Research Article

Karlson, A. M. L., Pilditch, C. A., Probert, P. K., Leduc, D., & Savage, C. (2021). Large infaunal bivalves determine community uptake of macroalgal detritus and food web pathways. Ecosystems, 24(2), 384-402. doi: 10.1007/s10021-020-00524-5

Journal - Research Article

Robertson, B. P., & Savage, C. (2021). Thresholds in catchment nitrogen load for shifts from seagrass to nuisance macroalgae in shallow intertidal estuaries. Limnology & Oceanography, 66, 1353-1366. doi: 10.1002/lno.11689

Journal - Research Article

Thomas, S., Pilditch, C. A., Thrush, S. F., Baltar, F., Crawshaw, J. A., Thomson, B., & Savage, C. (2021). Does the size structure of venerid clam populations affect ecosystem functions on intertidal sandflats? Estuaries & Coasts, 44(1), 242-252. doi: 10.1007/s12237-020-00774-5

Journal - Research Article

Thrush, S. F., Hewitt, J. E., Gladstone-Gallagher, R. V., Savage, C., Lundquist, C., O'Meara, T., … Pilditch, C. (2021). Cumulative stressors reduce the self-regulating capacity of coastal ecosystems. Ecological Applications, 31(1), e02223. doi: 10.1002/eap.2223

Journal - Research Article

Hope, J. A., Hewitt, J., Pilditch, C. A., Savage, C., & Thrush, S. F. (2020). Effect of nutrient enrichment and turbidity on interactions between microphytobenthos and a key bivalve: Implications for higher trophic levels. Frontiers in Marine Science, 7, 695. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2020.00695

Journal - Research Article

Crawshaw, J. A., Schallenberg, M., & Savage, C. (2019). Physical and biological drivers of sediment oxygenation and denitrification in a New Zealand intermittently closed and open lake lagoon. New Zealand Journal of Marine & Freshwater Research, 53(1), 33-59. doi: 10.1080/00288330.2018.1476388

Journal - Research Article

Crawshaw, J. A., Schallenberg, M., Savage, C., & Van Hale, R. (2019). Hierarchy of factors controls denitrification rates in temperate intermittently closed and open coastal lakes/lagoons (ICOLLS). Aquatic Ecology, 53, 719-744. doi: 10.1007/s10452-019-09721-4

Journal - Research Article

Crawshaw, J., O'Meara, T., Savage, C., Thomson, B., Baltar, F., & Thrush, S. F. (2019). Source of organic detritus and bivalve biomass influences nitrogen cycling and extracellular enzyme activity in estuary sediments. Biogeochemistry, 145, 315-335. doi: 10.1007/s10533-019-00608-y

Journal - Research Article

Savage, C. (2019). Seabird nutrients are assimilated by corals and enhance coral growth rates. Scientific Reports, 9, 4284. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-41030-6

Journal - Research Article

Douglas, E. J., Pilditch, C. A., Lohrer, A. M., Savage, C., Schipper, L. A., & Thrush, S. F. (2018). Sedimentary environment influences ecosystem response to nutrient enrichment. Estuaries & Coasts, 41(7), 1994-2008. doi: 10.1007/s12237-018-0416-5

Journal - Research Article

Robertson, B. P., & Savage, C. (2018). Mud-entrained macroalgae utilise porewater and overlying water column nutrients to grow in a eutrophic intertidal estuary. Biogeochemistry, 139, 53-68. doi: 10.1007/s10533-018-0454-x

Journal - Research Article

Robinson, G., MacTavish, T., Savage, C., Caldwell, G. S., Jones, C. L. W., Probyn, T., … Stead, S. M. (2018). Carbon amendment stimulates benthic nitrogen cycling during the bioremediation of particulate aquaculture waste. Biogeosciences, 15(6), 1863-1878. doi: 10.5194/bg-15-1863-2018

Journal - Research Article

Savage, C., Thrush, S. F., & Pilditch, C. A. (2018). Tipping points in coastal ecosystems. Junctures, 2018(19), 12-14.

Journal - Research Article

Bierschenk, A. M., Savage, C., & Matthaei, C. D. (2017). Intensity of catchment land use influences biological traits of benthic invertebrates along a freshwater-marine continuum. Limnology & Oceanography, 62(S1), S292-S308. doi: 10.1002/lno.10584

Journal - Research Article

Cui, X., Bianchi, T. S., & Savage, C. (2017). Erosion of modern terrestrial organic matter as a major component of sediments in fjords. Geophysical Research Letters, 44(3), 1457-1465. doi: 10.1002/2016GL072260

Journal - Research Article

Cui, X., Bianchi, T. S., Kenney, W. F., Wang, J., Curtis, J. H., Xue, K., & Savage, C. (2017). Carbon dynamics along a temperate fjord-head delta: Linkages with carbon burial in fjords. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 122(12), 3419-3430. doi: 10.1002/2017JG003891

Journal - Research Article

Cui, X., Bianchi, T. S., Hutchings, J. A., Savage, C., & Curtis, J. H. (2016). Partitioning of organic carbon among density fractions in surface sediments of Fiordland, New Zealand. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 121(3), 1016-1031. doi: 10.1002/2015JG003225

Journal - Research Article

Cui, X., Bianchi, T. S., Savage, C., & Smith, R. W. (2016). Organic carbon burial in fjords: Terrestrial versus marine inputs. Earth & Planetary Science Letters, 451, 41-50. doi: 10.1016/j.epsl.2016.07.003

Journal - Research Article

Gongol, C., & Savage, C. (2016). Spatial variation in rates of benthic denitrification and environmental controls in four New Zealand estuaries. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 556, 59-77. doi: 10.3354/meps11865

Journal - Research Article

Karlson, A. M. L., Niemand, C., Savage, C., & Pilditch, C. A. (2016). Density of key-species determines efficiency of macroalgae detritus uptake by intertidal benthic communities. PLoS ONE, 11(7), e0158785. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0158785

Journal - Research Article

O'Connell-Milne, S. A., Poulin, R., Savage, C., & Rayment, W. (2016). Reduced growth, body condition and foot length of the bivalve Austrovenus stutchburyi in response to parasite infection. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology & Ecology, 474, 23-28. doi: 10.1016/j.jembe.2015.09.012

Journal - Research Article

O'Connell-Milne, S., Savage, C., & Rayment, W. (2016). The influence of commercial harvesting on parasite infection in the bivalve Austrovenus stutchburyi. Canadian Journal of Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences, 73, 982-989. doi: 10.1139/cjfas-2015-0401

Journal - Research Article

Ramirez, M. T., Allison, M. A., Bianchi, T. S., Cui, X., Savage, C., Schüller, S. E., … Vetter, L. (2016). Modern deposition rates and patterns of organic carbon burial in Fiordland, New Zealand. Geophysical Research Letters, 43, 11768-11776. doi: 10.1002/2016GL070021

Journal - Research Article

Robertson, B. P., Savage, C., Gardner, J. P. A., Robertson, B. M., & Stevens, L. M. (2016). Optimising a widely-used coastal health index through quantitative ecological group classifications and associated thresholds. Ecological Indicators, 69, 595-605. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2016.04.003

Journal - Research Article

Robertson, B. P., Gardner, J. P. A., & Savage, C. (2015). Macrobenthic–mud relations strengthen the foundation for benthic index development: A case study from shallow, temperate New Zealand estuaries. Ecological Indicators, 58, 161-174. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2015.05.039

Journal - Research Article

Schüller, S. E., Bianchi, T. S., Li, X., Allison, M. A., & Savage, C. (2015). Historical reconstruction of phytoplankton composition in estuaries of Fiordland, New Zealand: The application of plant pigment biomarkers. Estuaries & Coasts, 38(1), 56-71. doi: 10.1007/s12237-014-9771-z

Journal - Research Article

Smith, R. W., Bianchi, T. S., Allison, M., Savage, C., & Galy, V. (2015). High rates of organic carbon burial in fjord sediments globally. Nature Geoscience, 8, 450-453. doi: 10.1038/NGEO2421

Journal - Research Article

Thrush, S. F., Hewitt, J. E., Parkes, S., Lohrer, A. M., Pilditch, C., Woodin, S. A., … Savage, C., & Van Colen, C. (2014). Experimenting with ecosystem interaction networks in search of threshold potentials in real-world marine ecosystems. Ecology, 95(6), 1451-1457. doi: 10.1890/13-1879.1

Journal - Research Article

Lill, A. W. T., Schallenberg, M., Lal, A., Savage, C., & Closs, G. P. (2013). Isolation and connectivity: Relationships between periodic connection to the ocean and environmental variables in intermittently closed estuaries. Estuarine, Coastal & Shelf Science, 128, 76-83. doi: 10.1016/j.ecss.2013.05.011

Journal - Research Article

Schüller, S. E., Allison, M. A., Bianchi, T. S., Tian, F., & Savage, C. (2013). Historical variability in past phytoplankton abundance and composition in Doubtful Sound, New Zealand. Continental Shelf Research, 69, 110-122. doi: 10.1016/j.csr.2013.09.021

Journal - Research Article

Bierschenk, A. M., Savage, C., Townsend, C. R., & Matthaei, C. D. (2012). Intensity of land use in the catchment influences ecosystem functioning along a freshwater-marine continuum. Ecosystems, 15(4), 637-651. doi: 10.1007/s10021-012-9536-0

Journal - Research Article

Dufour, C., Probert, P. K., & Savage, C. (2012). Macrofaunal colonisation of stranded Durvillaea antarctica on a southern New Zealand exposed sandy beach. New Zealand Journal of Marine & Freshwater Research, 46(3), 369-383. doi: 10.1080/00288330.2012.676557

Journal - Research Article

Lill, A. W. T., Closs, G. P., Schallenberg, M., & Savage, C. (2012). Impact of berm breaching on hyperbenthic macroinvertebrate communities in intermittently closed estuaries. Estuaries & Coasts, 35(1), 155-168. doi: 10.1007/s12237-011-9436-0

Journal - Research Article

MacTavish, T., Stenton-Dozey, J., Vopel, K., & Savage, C. (2012). Deposit-feeding sea cucumbers enhance mineralization and nutrient cycling in organically-enriched coastal sediments. PLoS ONE, 7(11), e50031. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0050031

Journal - Research Article

Savage, C., Thrush, S. F., Lohrer, A. M., & Hewitt, J. E. (2012). Ecosystem services transcend boundaries: Estuaries provide resource subsidies and influence functional diversity in coastal benthic communities. PLoS ONE, 7(8), e42708. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0042708

Journal - Research Article

Lill, A. W. T., Closs, G. P., Savage, C., & Schallenberg, M. (2011). Annual secondary production of two estuarine mysid species (Mysidacea: Mysidae) inhabiting an intermittently closed estuary, south-eastern New Zealand. Marine & Freshwater Research, 62(7), 823-834. doi: 10.1071/mf10274

Journal - Research Article

Schüller, S. E., & Savage, C. (2011). Spatial distribution of diatom and pigment sedimentary records in surface sediments in Doubtful Sound, Fiordland, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Marine & Freshwater Research, 45(4), 591-608. doi: 10.1080/00288330.2011.561865

Journal - Research Article

Savage, C., Leavitt, P. R., & Elmgren, R. (2010). Effects of land use, urbanization, and climate variability on coastal eutrophication in the Baltic Sea. Limnology & Oceanography, 55(3), 1033-1046. doi: 10.4319/lo.2010.55.3.1033

Journal - Research Article

Smith, R. W., Bianchi, T. S., & Savage, C. (2010). Comparison of lignin phenols and branched/isoprenoid tetraethers (BIT index) as indices of terrestrial organic matter in Doubtful Sound, Fiordland, New Zealand. Organic Geochemistry, 41(3), 281-290. doi: 10.1016/j.orggeochem.2009.10.009

Journal - Research Article

Hammond, M. P., & Savage, C. (2009). Use of regenerated scales and scale marginal increments as indicators of recent dietary history in fish. Estuaries & Coasts, 32(2), 340-349. doi: 10.1007/s12237-009-9134-3

Journal - Research Article

Heggie, K., & Savage, C. (2009). Nitrogen yields from New Zealand coastal catchments to receiving estuaries. New Zealand Journal of Marine & Freshwater Research, 43(5), 1039-1052. doi: 10.1080/00288330.2009.9626527

Journal - Research Article

Koenig, S., Savage, C., & Kim, J. P. (2009). Two novel non-destructive biomarkers to assess PAH-induced oxidative stress and porphyrinogenic effects in crabs. Biomarkers, 14(7), 452-464. doi: 10.1080/13547500903123026

Journal - Research Article

Koenig, S., Savage, C., & Kim, J. P. (2008). Non-destructive assessment of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) exposure by fluorimetric analysis of crab urine. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 56(12), 2003-2008. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2008.08.010

Journal - Research Article

Castillo, L. E., Martínez, E., Ruepert, C., Savage, C., Gilek, M., Pinnock, M., & Solis, E. (2006). Water quality and macroinvertebrate community response following pesticide applications in a banana plantation, Limon, Costa Rica. Science of the Total Environment, 367, 418-432.

Journal - Research Article

Taylor, A. G., & Savage, C. (2006). Fatty acid composition of New Zealand green-lipped mussels, Perna canaliculus: Implications for harvesting for n-3 extracts. Aquaculture, 261, 430-439.

Journal - Research Article

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