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Biosecurity Bonanza 2022

Biosecurity Bonanza 2022

Find out about the latest biosecurity research being undertaken at Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research.

Due to the continued success of our virtual Biosecurity Bonanza over the past few years, we are returning with the same bite-sized webinar sessions over the course of a week that will cover weed and predator control research updates from our researchers across the country.

Dates

7-10 June

Registration

Please register for each session you want to attend – full agenda below.

Webinar tips

If this is your first time signing up for a webinar, we have this handy webinar guide to make joining us online easy.

 

AGENDA

The PCE’s call to action on native ecosystem weeds

Tuesday 7 June, 10:30am.
Presented by Angela Brandt

Last November, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment shone a light on the management of weeds that threaten native ecosystems in Aotearoa New Zealand with the release of his Space invaders report. The report focuses on the need to strengthen post-border weed management through coordinated efforts among all the system’s players to address both the current and future risks weeds pose.

While the report’s recommendations primarily suggest action central government should take, they also emphasise the important role that researchers and practitioners have in these system improvements. This presentation aims to open the conversation about how we can work together to input into the uptake of these recommendations.

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Factors leading to successful island rodent eradications

Tuesday 7 June, 2pm.
Presented by Araceli Samaniego

Araceli will take us through the findings that she and her colleagues outlined in a recent review on rodent eradications. They compared environmental and operational factors using global cases where rodent eradication initially failed and subsequent attempts succeeded. Can operational factors (e.g. poor baiting strategy) explain the initial failures? How can we maximise our chances of success?


Araceli is a conservation biologist with 20 years of international experience, always combining biodiversity conservation projects and applied research. She has seen much of the world by leading and assisting with island rodent eradications. Witnessing the resulting rewilding process is what keeps her going.

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Metabolomics – what has it got to do with weed biocontrol?

Wednesday 8 June, 10:30am.
Presented by Ronny Groenteman

Metabolomics is the newest kid on the ‘omics’ block. Metabolomics is different from its older siblings, genomics & transcriptomics, in that it doesn’t look for the mechanisms regulating plant response at the genome level. Instead, it analyses the metabolite profile (metabolome) of the plant tissue of interest. The metabolome is the end result of how the plant responds to the biotic and abiotic conditions in its environment – the sum of all processes.

In this presentation, Ronny will outline several potential applications of metabolomics that can contribute to a safer and more effective weed biocontrol. Metabolomics could help us match the collection site in the native range and suitable release site/s in New Zealand; It could help us identify the agent/agent-combination that stresses the target weed the most and; it could affect which plant species we include in our host range testing lists. While this technology is still in its infancy, it is worthwhile imagining the ways we could use it in the future in order to shape the next phases of research in this discipline.

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Movements of feral cats in the eastern beech forests of South Island

Wednesday 8 June, 2pm.
Presented by Ivor Yockney

Recent evidence of confirmed predation of adult kea at high altitude by feral cats prompted us to examine the movement of feral cats in two catchments east of the Main Divide. Little is known about feral cat habitat use, distribution, density, movement ecology, or impacts on native biota in these eastern beech forests.

Anecdotal reports of increased feral cat abundance and distribution in these areas would point towards greater threats to native fauna through feral cat predation.We live-captured and fitted GPS/VHF collars to a total of 20 feral cats in the upper Hope River (Lewis Pass) and Hawdon River (Arthur’s Pass). The collars fitted were of two different weights and configurations and were set to take GPS fixes either hourly or 4-hourly for up to 1-year. Data were collected from the collars at regular intervals via remote VHF download (helicopter, foot, or fixed-wing aerial tracking).This is an internally funded Manaaki Whenua initiative, we will discuss the project, collar deployment and upload configuration and performance. We will present only preliminary GPS data as this study is still ongoing.

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Predicting invasiveness using high priority exemplar species

Thursday 9 June, 10:30am.
Presented by Amy Vaughan

Invasive species threaten native biota, putting fragile ecosystems at risk and having a large-scale impact on primary industries. Growing trade networks and the popularity of personal travel make incursions a more frequent risk, one only compounded by global climate change. Predicting biological incursion and targeting high-risk pathways would allow Aotearoa New Zealand to have the upper hand in preventing establishment of unwanted pest species. The ability to predict invasion pathways or potential biological incursions before detection at the border provides preventative rather than corrective action.

As climate change continues to rapidly affect the environment, such changes will naturally influence the ability of species to establish within a new niche that previously would have been inhospitable. By detecting genomic traits associated with invasiveness, we can identify traits under selection that benefit an organism when it arrives in a new habitat. By utilising large population resequencing data of known invasive and non-invasive insect species to develop a trained machine-learning pipeline we seek to classify signatures from various datatypes for priority species that are currently a threat to New Zealand’s border, and in the future for those that are yet to arrive.

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Thermal cameras on helicopters or drones:  Some pros and cons of new technology

Thursday 9 June, 2pm.
Presented by Bruce Warburton

Thermal cameras and UAVs are getting increasing exposure and being seen as technologies that can provide more cost-effective methods for monitoring invasive species.  Manaaki Whenua has been carrying out some pilot trials of both technologies, and this talk is to share our initial results and the pros and cons of using these tools.

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Did the authors of the Flora of New Zealand Vol. IV get it wrong? - Changes in the adventive flora of New Zealand documented by herbarium collections

Friday 10 June, 10:30am.
Presented by Ines Schonberger

Since the first comprehensive treatment of the naturalised plants in New Zealand was published more than 30 years ago, the number of naturalised plant species in New Zealand has doubled, there have been approx. 900 range extensions and hundreds of taxonomic changes.The Allan Herbarium of Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research is documenting these changes, making these available through databases and online resources.

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Establishment of two biocontrol agents on old man’s beard in the Canterbury Region

Friday 10 June, 12pm.
Presented by Arnaud Cartier

Recent efforts to get two agents established on old man’s beard (Clematis vitalba), one of New Zealand’s worst invasive weeds, have proved successful. Following the importation of the old man’s beard sawfly in 2018, and mite in 2019, the weed biocontrol group has been closely monitoring these new populations which have since increased size and widely spread in the Canterbury Region. This is a promising step to reduce the impact of the weed on the environment.

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Stoats, genetics and the prospects of 'Predator Freedom'

Friday 10 June, 2pm.
Presented by Andrew Veale

Aotearoa is currently attempting to eradicate a suite of small, introduced pest mammals as part of it's ambitious 'predator free 2050' goal. We do not yet have the tools to do this, and one research area promoted as a possible solution are genetic tools. In this webinar, Dr Andrew Veale from Manaaki Whenua will discuss his research on the topic, looking at ways genetics can be used in applied conservation.

We now have high quality genomes for our most challenging pests, and these are already being used within various research programs. In Taranaki and on Waiheke Island, mustelid (stoat, weasel and ferret) population genomics is being used to understand how these animals move across the landscape, helping inform trap density and placement. Similarly, on the West Coast and in Taranaki, population genomics is showing what constitutes a barrier for possum movement, providing support for how we can break up the landscape into eradication units. Forensic markers are being developed to identify trace samples to individuals and inform incursion responses. Genomes are being mined to see if we can create new species specific toxins, and entirely novel genetic tools such as gene-drives are being discussed as a way to permanently eradicate these species. All of these novel research areas are helping us better plan and execute eradication plans, getting us closer to a predator free NZ.

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