Professor Andrea C. Alfaro


Marine Ecology and Aquaculture

Phone: +64 9 921 9999 ext 8197


Physical Address:
School of Applied Sciences
Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences
WL Block, level 1
31-33 Symonds Street
Auckland City

Postal Address:
Private Bag 92006
Auckland 1142
New Zealand
(Mail No C-43)

Links to relevant web pages:

Aquaculture Biotechnology Group

Mangrove Research Group

Institute for Applied Ecology New Zealand 


BSc, MSc(Hons), PhD (Auckland)

Teaching Areas:

  • Marine Ecology
  • Aquaculture

Research Areas:

  • Aquaculture – biology and ecology of cultured species, production, health and nutrition, feed development, re-circulating systems, water quality and waste management. Special interest in mussel ecology and aquaculture (largest aquaculture industry in New Zealand).
  • Estuarine/Rocky Shore Ecology – biodiversity, larval dispersal and transport, nutrient cycling, food webs, trophic interactions, shellfish reseeding. Special interests in community/ecosystem dynamics, and species-habitat ecology in New Zealand and Fiji.

Research Summary:

Dr Alfaro is an inter-disciplinary scientist with research interests in Marine Ecology and Aquaculture. Her research centres on understanding the complex interactions between organisms and their environments, in both natural (field ecology) and controlled (aquaculture) settings. Dr Alfaro's aquaculture work provides direct production benefits to industries in New Zealand and overseas. Her research on community ecology (i.e., food web dynamics) incorporates tools and approaches from a variety of fields (i.e., biotechnology, chemistry, microbiology, geology, statistics), and seeks to integrate physical and biological processes in space and time. She is particularly interested in the use of sound experimental designs and statistical approaches to construct rigorous quantitative studies in marine ecology and aquaculture production.

Current Research Projects:

  • Proteomics and cryopreservation of bivalve larvae
  • Immunology of cultivated shellfish
  • Probiotics to improve shellfish nutrition and health
  • Metabolomic applications in aquaculture production (bioinformatics)
  • Selective breeding - biochemical and genetic analyses
  • Physiological ecology of shellfish in growout environments
  • Seafood quality enhancement
  • Neurobiology and chemical receptors of invertebrates larvae
  • Hatchery production of marine invertebrate larvae, such as mussels, clams, abalone, scallops and other species of commercial importance
  • Reproductive behaviour and conditioning of marine invertebrates.
Marine Ecology:
  • Food wed dynamics and trophic interactions within estuarine and rocky shore ecosystems
  • Sediment geochemistry and physico-chemical processes in tidal estuaries
  • Hydrodynamic processes and sediment transport within estuaries
  • Nutrient cycling within mangrove ecosystems
  • Fish abundance, distribution and habitat use within mangrove stands
  • Carbon cycling and global change within mangrove ecosystems
  • Mangrove tree physiology, biomass and productivity
  • Eddy covariance data management and analyses
  • Ecology of complex biofilms on sediment surfaces




Tung, C., Alfaro, A. C. (2012). Alternative protein sources in artificial diets for New Zealand’s black-footed abalone, Haliotis iris, Martyn 1784, juveniles. Journal of the World Aquaculture Society 43:1-29.

Alfaro, A. C., Young, T., Ganesan, A. M. (2011). Regulatory Effects of mussel (Aulacomya maoriana Iredale 1915) larval settlement by neuroactive compounds, amino acids, and bacterial biofilms. Aquaculture 322-323:158-168.

Young, T., Alfaro A. C., Robertson, J. (2011). Effect of neuroactive compounds on the settlement of mussel (Perna canaliculus) larvae. Aquaculture 319:277-283.

Pino Chandra, L. A., Alfaro, A. C., Flores Aguilar, R., Godoy, M., Gutierrez Venegas, A. (2011). Histological evidence of accumulation of iron in postlarvae of red abalone, Haliotis rufescens. Aquaculture Research. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2109.2011.02969.x.

Tung, C., Alfaro, A. C. (2011). Effects of dietary protein and temperature on the growth and health of juvenile New Zealand black-footed abalone (Haliotis iris). Aquaculture Research 42:366-385.

Tung, C., Alfaro, A. C. (2011). Effects of dietary protein source and amount on shell morphology of juvenile abalone Haliotis iris. Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science 6:107-118.

Tung, C, Alfaro, A. C. (2011). Initial attachment, metamorphosis, settlement, and survival of black-footed abalone (Haliotis iris) on microalgal biofilms containing different amino acid compositions. Journal of the World Aquaculture Society 42:167-183.

Tung, C., Alfaro, A. C. (2011). Effects of dual microalgal species biofilms on New Zealand black-footed abalone (Hailotis iris) larval/post-larval processes. Journal of Applied Aquaculture 23:14-31.

Ganesan, A. M., Alfaro, A. C., Brooks, J., Higgins, C. (2010). The role of bacterial biofilms and exudates on the settlement of mussel (Perna canaliculus) larvae. Aquaculture 306:388-392.

Alfaro, A. C., McArdle, Jeffs, A. G. (2010). Temporal patterns of arrival of beachcast green-lipped mussel spat harvested for aquaculture in New Zealand. Aquaculture 302:208-218.

Alfaro, A. C., Webb, S., Phipps, C. (2008). Variability of growth rates, health, and population turnover within mussel beds, Perna canaliculus, in Northern New Zealand. Marine Biology Research 4:376-383.

Alfaro, A. C. (2008). Dietary preferences of Littoraria scabra, while vertically migrating on mangrove trees: Gut content, fatty acid, and stable isotope analyses. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 79:718-726.

Alfaro, A. C. (2007). Migration and trail affinity of snails, Littoraria scabra, on mangrove trees of Nananu-i-ra, Fiji Islands. Marine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology 40:247-255.

Alfaro, A. C., Dewas, S. E., Thomas, F. (2007). Food and habitat partitioning in grazing snails (Turbo smaragdus), northern New Zealand, Estuaries and Coasts 30:431-440.

Alfaro, A. C. (2006) Tidal migration influences the zonation of grazing snails (Turbo smaragdus) in a mangrove/seagrass estuary, northern New Zealand. Estuaries and Coasts 29: 731-736.

Alfaro, A. C. (2006). Population dynamics of the green-lipped mussel, Perna canaliculus, at various spatial and temporal scales in northern New Zealand. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 334:294-315.

Alfaro, A. C. (2006). Byssal attachment of juvenile mussels, Perna canaliculus, affected by water motion and air bubbles. Aquaculture 255:357-361.

Alfaro, A. C. (2006). Evidence of cannibalism and bentho-pelagic coupling within the life cycle of the mussel, Perna canaliculus. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 329:206-217.

Alfaro, A. C., Copp, B. R., Appleton, D. R., Kelly, S. and Jeffs, A. G. (2006).  Chemical cues promote settlement in larvae of the green-lipped mussel, Perna canaliculus. Aquaculture International 14:405-412.

Alfaro, A. C. (2006). Benthic macro-invertebrate community composition within a mangrove/seagrass estuary in northern New Zealand. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 66:97-110.

Alfaro, A. C., Thomas, F. C. M., Sergent, L. and Duxbury, M. (2006). Identification of trophic interactions within an estuarine food web (northern New Zealand) using fatty acid biomarkers and stable isotopes. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 70:271-286.



Last updated: 11-Jan-2016 11.30am

The information on this page was correct at time of publication. For a comprehensive overview of AUT qualifications, please refer to the Academic Calendar.