Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Biosecurity Bonanza Presentations 2020

This year's Biosecurity Bonanza was presented as a series of bite-sized webinars.

Date: Monday 18 May 2020 11:00am

Weeding in Paradise: biocontrol of invasive weeds in Rarotonga

Presenter: Quentin Paynter – Researcher, Biocontrol & Molecular Ecology

Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Reserch weed biocontrol work has recently branched out into the tropical Pacific. In this talk with Quentin, you will be transported to the island paradise of Rarotonga, where a programme that started in November 2013 has been delivering biocontrol against a range of tropical weeds that threaten agriculture and the islands forested interior.

Date: Monday 18 May 2020 2:30pm

Uncovering the Achilles heel: Animal behaviour in pest management

Presenter: Patrick Garvey - Scientist, Wildlife Ecology & Management

New Zealand has set itself the ambitious goal of eradicating the most destructive invasive species from the mainland. Achieving eradication requires that all pests are removed, but despite our best efforts, control operations always leave behind a subset of animals that fail to respond to management. In this presentation, Patrick will discuss insights from behavioural ecology that can be applied for invasive species management.

Behaviour-based approaches suggests that instead of targeting the ‘average’ pest, we should instead target the ‘individual’, to improve population level control. In recent years, research in animal behaviour has revealed that all animals possess different ‘personalities’, with some individuals being risk averse (‘shy’), which will reduce the likelihood that they will interact with control tools (traps or baits). Accounting for these individual differences can improve the efficacy of control tools and reduce the cost of mopping-up survivors.

Patrick will discuss approaches that exploit individual variation based on four core motivations: feeding, fleeing, fighting, and fornication. He will also provide suggestions for cue-based tools to manipulate these motivations, thus improving pest management outcomes.

Date: Tuesday 19 May 2020 11:00am

Discovery of viruses in New Zealand native plants

Presenter: Ana Podolyan – Molecular Technician

Many novel viruses have been discovered in asymptomatic plants by next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies. There is growing evidence that these viruses are beneficial – from attracting pollinators to increasing plants’ tolerance to abiotic stress like drought, cold, and hot soil temperature. Little is known, however, about the plant virus spectrum in native/endemic NZ flora. Using NGS, one novel Ilarvirus, a member of the family Bromoviridae, was found in the asymptomatic New Zealand native plant Hebe/Veronica sp. These types of discoveries have huge implications for biosecurity – discovering what is already there might affect our understanding of what is a ‘new organism’.

Date: Tuesday 19 May 2020 2:30pm

Using cameras and artificial intelligence for monitoring invasive species

Presenter: Al Glen - Researcher, Wildlife Ecology & Management

Camera traps are widely used to monitor the abundance, distribution, and behaviour of wild animals, including rare and cryptic species. However, cameras are often triggered by non-target animals (e.g. livestock) or by moving vegetation. This can create huge numbers of ‘junk’ images that are expensive and time consuming to process. Using artificial intelligence, image recognition software can automate this process, making camera trapping much more cost-effective.

Join Al as he discusses how they ‘trained’ computer models to improve accuracy with our collaborators at the University of New England and Trap.NZ. Al will also discuss other emerging developments, such as thermal cameras and ‘smart traps’.

Date: Wednesday 20 May 2020 11:00am

How microbes affect interactions between plants and invertebrates

Presenter: Claudia Lange – Molecular Ecologist

Microbes are omnipresent in the environment. They provide essential services to other organisms and orchestrate the communication between them. Research on the genetics of microbe-invertebrate-plant interactions is rapidly progressing and our team is interested in how we can apply this knowledge to protect New Zealand’s biodiversity and improve our biosecurity when dealing with introduced organisms. Join Claudia as she summarises the latest publications on research conducted in this area, with a focus on the effect that symbiotic gut microbes have on the invertebrates’ diet, fitness, and ability to spread plant diseases.

Date: Wednesday 20 May 2020 12:30pm

Rolling out dung beetles in New Zealand

Presenter: Simon Fowler – Researcher, Biocontrol & Molecular Ecology

New Zealand has large numbers of stock that produce 100 million tonnes of dung per year. Dung beetles can bury fresh dung in pastures, providing valuable ecosystem services. Dung Beetle Innovations is now mass-rearing seven species for widespread release across NZ and bringing in four additional species. Australia has also revitalised its pioneering research and development programme and has recently invested A$25 million in the Dung Beetle Ecosystem Engineers (DBEE) Project.

Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research and Waikato University are researching dung beetles and their environmental benefits in New Zealand.

New Zealand needs to ensure dung beetles are rolled out rapidly and effectively across the country. Join Simon as he discusses the process required to facilitate this and the research being carried out here in New Zealand.

Date: Wednesday 20 May 2020 2:30pm

Rabbit biocontrol – changing impacts of RHDV viruses

Presenter: Janine Duckworth – Researcher, Wildlife Ecology & Management

In autumn 2018, a new strain of rabbit calicivirus called RHDV1 K5 was released nationwide to improve the efficacy of RHDV-based biocontrol of rabbits in New Zealand. RHDV1 K5 was hand laid as carrot bait at over 180 sites and was subsequently confirmed present in 35 dead rabbits at 26 locations throughout New Zealand between March and December 2018. Night counts undertaken 6–8 weeks after release indicate a decrease in rabbit numbers of about 35–40%, reflecting the combined impacts of RHDV1 K5 and Czech, as well as of conventional control over this time.

While monitoring the spread of RHDV1 K5, another type of RHDV called RHDV2 was also identified. The strain of RHDV2 in New Zealand is different from the strain present in Australia and how it arrived here is unknown, but it has now been detected in wild rabbits from Waikato, Otago, Bay of Plenty, Marlborough, Wellington, Wairarapa, and Canterbury. The long-term impacts of RHDV2 on wild rabbit populations in New Zealand is uncertain, as the lethality of the New Zealand strain of RHDV2 is currently unknown. Janine will cover current knowledge about RHDV1 K5 and RHDV2 and their potential impacts in New Zealand during this webinar.

Date: Thursday 21 May 2020 11:00am

Hieracium biocontrol – 20 years on

Presenter: Paul Peterson – Technician, Biocontrol & Molecular Ecology

Several biocontrol agents have been introduced and released onto hieracium (Hieracium and Pilosella spp.) in New Zealand since 1999. These include the plume moth (Oxyptilus pilosella), gall wasp (Aulacidea subterminalis), gall midge (Macrolabis pilosellae), root feeding hover fly (Cheilosia urbana), and the crown feeding hover fly (Cheilosia psilophthalma). While the gall wasp and the gall midge have established, recoveries of the other three have not been made and it is unlikely that they have established. Recent field checks looked at how well each of the established agents have spread and impacts were investigated. Join Paul as he discusses the latest findings of his research, including the impact land management changes have had in the South Island.

Date: Thursday 21 May 2020 2:30pm

Optimising control and surveillance for invasive predator management

Presenter: Andrew Gormley - Quantitative Wildlife Ecologist

Controlling a species at a land-scape scale requires many decisions to be made in order to best achieve the management aims of eradication or sustained control.

Managers must specify a range of factors, such as spacing between control devices, capacity of devices (e.g. single capture vs multiple kill), frequency of device checking, and control duration.

Furthermore, if the goal is eradication, then eventually surveillance will be required to try to prove there are no survivors – but what level of surveillance is required and for how long?

Computer simulation modelling can be used to explore scenarios and compare relative effectiveness of various control and surveillance strategies. To make such models more accessible, we have developed two web-based and freely available decision support tools, TrapSim and JESS4Pests, which managers can easily use to help them make decisions and refine their plans. In this talk, Andrew will describe the rationale and intended use of both tools, illustrating their utility with examples of actual applications.

Date: Friday 22 May 2020 11:00am

The pathway to the new classical biological control of invasive Vespula in New Zealand

Presenter: Bob Brown – Researcher, Biocontrol & Molecular Ecology

With new knowledge of the origins of the invasive common and German wasp populations present in New Zealand, we have gone back to the geographical source to survey for natural enemies. These surveys in the UK have shown that over 90% of Vespula nests were parasitized by at least one species, albeit at varying degrees of severity. In German and common wasp nests 6 different parasites were found. In this webinar, Bob will describe the journey searching for potential new biological control agents in the native range, how we’ve narrowed down the list of agents, and finally how we plan to go about seeking approval for releasing the selected agents in New Zealand.

Date: Friday 22 May 2020 2:30pm

Landscape control and eradication of Mustelids – what do we know and what do we need to know?

Presenter: Andrew Veale - Vertebrate Pest Ecologist

Three mustelids (ferrets, stoats, and weasels) were introduced to New Zealand in the late 19th Century in a failed attempt to control rabbits. All three are now malignant invasive species and scaling up their control to landscape levels is an important goal for conservation in New Zealand. Across all three species we need to better understand their population ecology, and their detection and trapping parameters in order to scale up to the ambitious goals set for predator free 2050. In this webinar, Andrew will discuss the current state of play for mustelid control at landscape scales and consider where the knowledge gaps are preventing the scaling up of operations.