Brenda Bartels

Senior Freshwater Ecologist

Brenda Bartels

Senior Freshwater Ecologist


Brenda has been employed as a senior freshwater ecologist at Kessels Ecology since September 2014. Brenda has been working as a freshwater ecologist for 10 years, during this time she has assessed the environmental impact of development, water takes, wastewater treatment plant discharges and drainage on aquatic environments. Brenda has also been involved in a number of research projects looking at fish passage issues and how to retrofit structures, as well as enhancement and restoration of aquatic habitats with the aim of protecting key native species. Brenda’s MSc thesis “Restoring giant kokopu population in Hamilton’s urban streams” gave her an understanding of the pressures of urban development on the natural environment and provided tools to work with and enhance these pockets of natural environments in built up areas. This research provided a valuable case study on the survival of a farm reared threatened species, in a natural environment and has real world implications for the conservation of threatened species. Results of this research were presented nationally and internationally. Brenda was also involved in the research group who successfully identified and published the first recorded spawning of giant kokopu. Brenda has an interest in restoration projects, where outcomes for development and the environment can be successfully balanced to achieve desirable outcomes. Brenda has experience designing and implementing monitoring programs, undertaking literature reviews, collecting and analysing data and report writing. She has conducted extensive, detailed freshwater surveys within the lower Waikato River catchment and as a result, has detailed knowledge and understanding of the aquatic of the Waikato River catchment. Brenda was previously employed at NIWA for 5 years and has also worked as a tutor, technical support staff for the Department of Conservation and the Auckland Regional Council and a laboratory technician testing water quality parameters.

Brenda is currently on maternity leave until November 2018.


  • Master of Science (First Class Honours) (University of Waikato, 2008)
  • Bachelor of Science (University of Waikato, 2006)

Key Skills

  • Assessment of river, stream, and lake ecosystem health including water quality and flow, fish and macroinvertebrate communities, and fish passage
  • Assessment of Ecological Effects
  • Data analysis and interpretation
  • Implementing monitoring regimes using a wide range of methods
  • Fisheries monitoring and management
  • Report preparation including literature review
  • Management, mitigation and restoration plans



LinkedIn: Brenda Bartels

“I grew up in a small rural town next to the Waikato River. Freshwater has always been part of who I am and protecting freshwater environments is my passion. Freshwater systems are an essential resource, and striking the balance between resource modification or use and environmental protection and enhancement is vitally important, and I’m lucky enough that I get paid to do it.”


  • Freshwater and Restoration Ecology
  • Assessment of Ecological Effects
  • Ecological Significance Assessments
  • Freshwater Fisheries

Society Memberships

  • NZ Freshwater Sciences Society
  • New Zealand Botanical Society
  • Golden Key International Society
  • Forest and Bird

Technical Qualifications and Training

  • Current Workplace First Aid Certificate
  • Backpack electrofishing certification
  • New Zealand Driver’s Licence
  • Off-road four-wheel drive training
  • Stream Ecological Valuation course (2009)
  • NIWA fish identification course (2007)
  • Open Water Dive Certificate
  • Boatmaster certificate.