Evolutionary biosecurity

Rumex crispus http://www.123rf.com/profile_siur
Theme Leader: 

We are researching the role that contemporary evolution has in biosecurity threats and classical biocontrol systems.

Research in this Theme will determine the importance of adaptation and evolution in the success of invasive species in New Zealand. We have two main projects:

Project 1: Contemporary evolution in weed invasion: enemy release, niche shifts and hybridisation

We will use a unique comparative approach by assessing the ecology of several of the world’s worst weed species in their native and invaded New Zealand range, and under controlled environmental condition. These investigations will help determine the traits and environmental characteristics that increase the probability of contemporary evolution and greater invasiveness.

For more information: Prof Philip Hulme

Project 2: Loss of effectiveness of introduced biological control

The research will test a suite of alternative, but not mutually-exclusive, hypotheses for the loss of efficacy of an introduced biocontrol agent, as an example of evolutionary changes affecting biocontrol outcomes. The biocontrol agent being studied is a parasitoid wasp that was introduced to New Zealand in the early 1990s to control populations of the Argentine stem weevil, a highly damaging pest of pastures.

For more information: Prof Stephen Goldson