PhD graduate’s research is the first holistic assessment of the ecology of ponds in Auckland

By Paul Duffin
Thursday 26 May 2022

Born and raised in Ghana, pursuing higher learning and graduating with a PhD has been a dream come true for Dr Abigail Kuranchie.

Dr Abigail Kuranchie

Last updated: Monday 13 June 2022

Dr Kuranchie grew up in a society with few educated role models to look up to, so in order to change the status quo and achieve her ambitions, the drive for change needed to start with her.

After completing high school, she attended the University of Ghana where she completed her undergraduate and Masters study before applying to undertake her PhD research at Massey.

Her thesis examined the ecology of ponds in the Auckland region by focusing on human and environmental influences on biodiversity. She studied how pond biodiversity changes temporally and spatially under different anthropogenic impacts, and how environmental variables, including human population density, influenced pond water quality and biodiversity. Her research provides valuable insights that will improve conservation in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“Ponds are the most abundant freshwater ecosystem on the planet,” she says. “They are biodiversity hotspots and provide essential ecosystem services. Understanding the ecology of ponds in urban areas provides valuable insights to enhance their ecological and social benefits.”

Dr Kuranchie says having the opportunity to undertake her PhD research in New Zealand was the icing on the cake as a conservation biologist.

“I came to New Zealand in 2016 to start my PhD journey. I was amazed by the biodiversity in this beautiful country. This study is the first holistic assessment of the ecology of ponds in Auckland, the most urbanised region in New Zealand. My research added information and valuable insights into pond ecosystems and garnered support for pond conservation.”

Dr Kuranchie says the support from her family, supervisor and university community have been amazing.

“My husband, our two boys, and our daughter, who was born one year after starting my PhD played a big part in my journey. Being a mother and authoring a thesis during a global pandemic was challenging but fulfilling. I am grateful to my supervisor Professor Dianne Bruton, my research colleagues, and the university community for their support.”