Biosecurity Bonanza 2018

I had the opportunity to present on a new project – developing a data resource of NZ’s introduced flora – at the 2018 Biosecurity Bonanza on Monday in Christchurch. The Biosecurity Bonanza is an annual event hosted by Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research to provide a forum for researchers across our institute to present ongoing research projects to a wide array of stakeholders, land managers and end-users. Continue reading


Bryophyte ID Workshop

With my Marsden project studying physiological stress and interactions in bryophytes, I’m delving into a completely new group of plants and had the opportunity this week to learn about how to identify several common mosses and liverworts of the New Zealand forest. David Glenny, an AI on my project, hosted Gretchen Brownstein and me for a 3-day workshop in the Lincoln office of Manaaki Whenua. On the first day, we travelled over Arthur’s Pass to collect bryophytes from the Hohonu Scenic Reserve, a lovely podocarp forest on the West Coast. Continue reading

Wilding conifers research programme

A recent note on the ‘Winning Against Wildings’ research programme in which I’m involved with others from Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, other CRIs, and universities describes some of the environmental and economic costs resulting from non-native conifer invasions in New Zealand. This integrative research programme aims to make advances in detection, control, and mitigation of spread and impact by synthesizing knowledge and investigations across different disciplines. Part of my role in this programme is contributing to a review paper on pine invasions in NZ and overseas.

Invited seminar in Auckland

I had a lovely visit to the University of Auckland yesterday to give a seminar in the School of Biological Sciences about my work exploring how dispersal, environmental conditions, and species interactions influence community assembly in California grasslands, patchy soil environments, and New Zealand forests. Jacqueline Beggs kindly tweeted about the seminar, too. Continue reading

Invasion impacts working group meeting

I spent a productive week in Arthur’s Pass with a stellar group of ecologists studying plant invasions, with a focus on wilding conifers. It’s impossible to beat the combination of stimulating discussion and beautiful location! We are developing a focused review to help advance research approaches to understanding, predicting, and managing invasive species impacts, as well as designing cross-continental experiments, compiling data from across the globe, and outlining additional synthesis papers. It was a great opportunity to better connect and build our collaborative network for both the ‘Winning Against Wildings’ project funded by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment and other work I’m currently involved in regarding the role of species traits in predicting invasion risk and impact. Continue reading

Dunedin research site funding success reported in Otago Daily Times

My Marsden Fund proposal success was reported this week in our local paper, the Otago Daily Times, along with the success of two of my office colleagues. Our office houses researchers from both Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research and GNS Science, both Crown Research Institutes, and winning three funding bids is quite the success rate for a research staff of about 20!

Marsden proposal funded – bryophyte interactions along stress gradients

I’m very excited to announce the success of my project proposal to the Marsden Fund of the NZ Royal Society, entitled Friends on the forest floor: do facilitative interactions dominate in New Zealand’s unique bryoflora? I’ll be working with Associate Professor David Burritt of the University of Otago and Dr. David Glenny of Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research to explore species interactions and physiological stress in NZ bryophytes over the next 3 years. Here is a summary of this Marsden Fast-Start project:

Competitive species interactions underpin modern theory on how plant communities are structured and which species are present. Facilitation, where the presence of a neighbouring species benefits rather than hinders a plant’s growth, is considered important mainly in harsh environments, where the neighbour could ameliorate the impact of stressful conditions. Bryophytes (mosses and liverworts) are the oldest land plants. They lack roots and internal transport vessels, making them fundamentally different from flowering plants. Because bryophytes obtain nutrients and water directly from the atmosphere, they may be more likely to share than compete for resources, and thus may be especially reliant on facilitation between species to acquire and maintain water in their cells. To determine whether facilitative interactions increase in strength under stressful conditions or occur along the entire environmental gradient, we will measure the stress and performance responses of bryophytes grown in monoculture and with other species along experimentally-imposed temperature and moisture gradients. This will allow us to test the generality of current ecological theory derived from studies of flowering plants.