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Weed Biocontrol New Recruits

Stephanie Morton (Auckland)

Stephanie Morton

Stephanie Morton

Stephanie first joined Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research (MWLR) as a summer technician at our Tamaki site in 2018, shortly after completing her MSc in Biosecurity and Conservation through the University of Auckland. For her MSc, which focused on the chemical ecology of honeybee pollination, Stephanie was based at Plant & Food Research in Lincoln. Her research involved training bees to recognise odours and testing their learning and memory behaviours.

For her summer job with MWLR, Stephanie assisted with rearing Honshu white admiral butterflies (Limenitis glorifica), tradescantia beetles (Neolema ogloblini, Lema basicostata, N. abbreviata), privet lace bugs (Leptoypha hospita), and moth plant beetles (Freudeita cupripennis). She also assisted with field releases of some of these agents, and was involved in the Healthy Trees Healthy Future project, collecting cones from native forests for kauri dieback research.

After brief stints working on the Queensland fruit fly incursion on Auckland’s North Shore and in a commercial Good Manufacturing Practice laboratory, Stephanie joined us again in November 2020 as a weed biocontrol technician. Stephanie provides technical support on a variety of projects at Tamaki, including mass rearing moth plant beetles and Japanese honeysuckle beetles (Oberea shirahatai), and assisting with testing and rearing of the moth plant fly (Anastrepha australis).

Stephanie also provides technical support for the Managing Invasive Species for Climate Change Adaptation in the Pacific (MISCCAP) and Vanuatu projects.

Robyn White (Lincoln)

Robyn White

Robyn White

Robyn joined MWLR in November 2020 as a weed biocontrol technician at our Lincoln site. Robyn’s extensive experience with rearing insects will be put to good use for many of our weed biocontrol projects. Robyn is currently rearing Honshu white admiral butterflies (Limentis glorifica) for release against Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) and tutsan beetles (Chrysolina abchasica) for tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum). She also provides assistance with other weed biocontrol projects based at Lincoln, such as old man’s beard (Clematis vitalba) and field horsetail (Equisetum arvense), and has recently taken over as the lead for a National Biocontrol Collective project evaluating the field impact of nodding thistle agents.

Prior to joining MWLR, Robyn was based at Plant & Food Research in Lincoln, where she worked as a soils, field and laboratory technician in the Sustainable Production Group, and as a research technician in the BioProtection Group. Her roles at Plant & Food involved rearing a variety of insect pests such as leaf-mining flies (Scaptomyza sp.) and diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella) for use in testing novel pheromone and kairomone lures. She also assisted with testing lures in the field and laboratory for codling moth (Cydia pomonella), various fruit flies (Drosophila spp.), as well as important pollinator species.

Robyn has an MSc in Ecology from the University of Canterbury. Her research project involved studying anti-predatory behaviours of native and exotic birds in different environments in New Zealand. Robyn’s research interests include behavioural ecology, biological control, integrated pest management, conservation ecology and regenerative agriculture.