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The portfolio focuses on improving the measurement, management and protection of New Zealand’s plant-based terrestrial biodiversity and ecosystems.  

The research and partnerships seek to enhance the representation, functioning and utilisation of indigenous biodiversity through evidence-based information and tools to enable management, regulatory and policy agencies, iwi and community groups. 

This portfolio spans conservation genetics / genomics of threatened species, ecosystem dynamics, reconstruction and trajectories (including paleo-ecological), and weed invasion and impacts through to management solutions, primarily via biological control.  

We also work closely with the Wildlife Management & Conservation Ecology Portfolio on issues such as browser impacts on ecosystems, and with the Climate Change Adaptation & Mitigation and Managing Land & Water Portfolios on the influence of below-ground communities on above ground processes including carbon sequestration.  

The portfolio has a high degree of engagement and activity working with Tangata Whenua across the motu on a variety of topics. These projects range from interactions with individual hapū or iwi on specific issues, to national-scale interactions on broader topics. 

This portfolio has strong links with the New Zealand Biological Heritage National Science Challenge, especially Ngā Raukau Taketake (myrtle rust and kauri dieback theme), with substantial aligned funding to the challenge. 

Key local research partners include the University of Auckland, University of Canterbury, Massey University, University of Waikato (all are partners in various aspects of terrestrial biodiversity management), and Plant and Food Research. We have international collaborations with Biosecurity Queensland, Stanford University, the University of New South Wales, CABI International and the University of Arizona amongst others.  

Research priorities 

  • Molecular ecology
  • Ecosystem resilience  
  • Interpreting biodiversity change  
  • Beating weeds 
  • Applied weed control 
  • Weed invasion ecology