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Published 4 July 2019

2019 Charles Fleming Fund awardees

Professor Wendy Nelson FRSNZ has been awarded the 2019 Charles Fleming Fund Senior Scientist Award to study New Zealand coralline algae.

The $10,000 awarded will allow Wendy to travel to collections in Europe that hold type specimens of New Zealand coralline algae that were collected from in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Research completed in the past year shows that there are likely to be about 140 coralline algae in New Zealand but, at present, we have valid names for fewer than 10 of these. Microscopy and molecular sequencing of these type specimens held in European herbariums will allow steps to be taken towards solving the taxonomic naming issues.  

Coralline algae are found from the intertidal zone to the extreme depths of light penetration in the ocean, on rocky shores, seagrass meadows, coral reefs, soft sediment habitats on cobbles and shells. They are referred to as 'ecosystem engineers' for the way in which they can modify the surrounding marine environment and the critical functional roles they perform, including harbouring high biodiversity, providing habitat, refuge and grazing areas for numerous fish and invertebrates. Yet, as calcified organisms they are vulnerable to changing global climate and ocean acidification. 

In addition, three recipients have received a 2019 Charles Fleming Publishing Award:

Dr Philip Simpson, Director of the Project Janszoon Trust, was awarded $4,000 to assist with the publication of a book entitled “Remarkable Plants of Aotearoa New Zealand” which will provide an accessible introduction to the distinctive plant life of New Zealand by introducing readers to 20-25 of our most remarkable plants. 

Dr Carl Wardhaugh, SCION, was awarded $3,000 to assist with the publication of a comprehensive photographic guide on New Zealand beetles, covering at least one species from every beetle family (85 in total) and subfamily (215) that occurs in New Zealand.

Dr Bridget Stocker, Victoria University of Wellington, was awarded $1,000 to assist with the  publication of a collection of fictional short stories based on fact called “Radium—a love story”  focusing on women in science covering a variety of disciplines.


Source: Royal Society Te Apārangi