What’s up with NZ sand dune habitats? Do a PhD and find out

Opportunity for PhD study: Quantifying ecosystem function in New Zealand sand dune habitats Understanding causes of variation in ecosystem function is critical for conserving and restoring ecosystems in the face of global change processes, such as climate change, land use change and species invasions. Key functions of sand dune ecosystems…

What’s up with alpine tussock grasslands? Do a PhD and find out!

A great deal of our ecological understanding of community patterns and processes is based on ‘snap-shot’ and short-term datasets. Research using long-term and time series data shows that community datasets collected over longer periods of time can be critical for predicting change. We are looking to recruit one or more…

Balancing the risks and benefits of biological control

Biological control against introduced pests in New Zealand have been used constantly since the late 19th century. However, it is much harder to introduce new agents now due to regulations set by the New Zealand Governments Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), previously known as the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA). Biological control…

Bonzer! Feratox poison controls Dama Wallaby populations in New Zealand

Since their introduction to New Zealand in 1870, Dama Wallabies (Macropus eugenii, endemic to Australia) have been responsible for the degradation of large tracts of native habitat. Concerns about the destruction of native ecosystems have become so severe that scientists working with the New Zealand Government have been working on…

The invasion of Californian Thistle (and how to fight back!)

Since 1878, the dreaded Californian thistle has caused mayhem throughout New Zealand farms! It is very problematic to the country’s pastoral farming systems, costing close to $700 million each year. The invaders have been subjected to a continuous battle with herbicides. This has been an effective, if costly, method of control…

Don’t disturb the New Zealanders: our effect on native plants

Although the 40-hour long flight to New Zealand was long and tiring, it took me no longer than an hour to be surprised by how many European plants there were in Christchurch. Some of my favorite plants from home flower were here in abundance. At the same time, it is…

Pickling pork: control of feral pigs with sodium nitrate

Killing animals is certainly not what comes to mind first when you think about nature conservation. Sometimes, however, killing a certain species is necessary to conserve another. One of the species which is killed for the sake of conservation is the feral pig, Sus scrofa. Feral pigs are omnivorous which…

Identifying the killers’ next of kin: stoats, ferrets and weasels

The title of number 1 killer in New Zealand is a fairly well fought over position. There are numerous introduced species that could enter this competition. Possums, even though not especially big predators, have, through sheer weight of number, a huge impact. Cats, wild and domesticated, are super effective killers…

Habitat invasion in the Southern Alps: why no forest-orcs in Middle-earth?

I guess I was always destined to spend my life in evolution and ecology. I distinctly remember from an early age, as I read through The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, worrying about the orcs. Not whether they are scary and nasty, that was a given, but rather how they…

Kate Bush and the mongoose: character displacement and release

When my sons look back on their childhoods they will likely remember many things. Lots of cricket. Great holidays in the Catlins full of boogie boards and board games. Our big old house that could hold as many friends as they cared to bring home. And too much Kate Bush. As…