Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Conservation science

New Zealanders want all types of indigenous ecosystems, habitats and species to be secure, and for the ecological processes required for the long-term persistence of the biota to be mantained in the face of threats such as invasive pests and weeds and detrimental land use. We undertake a diverse range of research that ultimately contributes to the development of practical strategies to conserve terrestrial and wetland biodiversity. We have skills in survey, monitoring, description and classification of the plant and animal communities of wetlands, drylands, tussock grasslands, shrublands, forest fragments, and critically rare and highly modified habitats and ecosystems. We undertake research and monitoring to assess conservation status, ecological history and likely future trajectories, essential ecological processes, key threats, and pest and weed impacts on diverse habitats, ecosystems, and species groups. Through our work in the fields of systematic conservation planning and biodiversity inventory and monitoring, we develop conceptual frameworks and practical tools to help agencies efficiently plan their work, and to measure progress towards conservation goals. We also identify and study species with strong effects on ecosystem performance (e.g. that maintain important mutualisms, distinctive communities, and key ecosystem processes). Some of our highest-profile research is the development of recovery strategies for birds, lizards, plants and invertebrates. In particular, our leadership in the recovery of endangered birds has been based on extensive research into the ecology of native birds and exotic pests, and the impacts of pests and pest control strategies on bird populations.


  • Tanentzap AJ, Walker S, Stephens RTT, Lee WG 2012. A framework for predicting species extinction by linking population dynamics with habitat loss. Conservation letters 5(2): 149-156. <Go to ISI>://CABI:20123160095
  • Walker S, Stephens RTT, Overton JM 2012. A unified approach to conservation prioritisation, reporting and information gathering in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 36(2): 243-251.
  • McGlone M, Walker S 2010. Potential effects of climate change on New Zealand’s terrestrial biodiversity and policy recommendations for mitigation, adaptation and research. Science for Conservation 312. 77 p.
  • Tanentzap AJ, Lee WG, Dugdale JS, Patrick BP, Fenner M, Walker S, Coomes DA 2011. Differential responses of vertebrate and invertebrate herbivores to traits of New Zealand subalpine shrubs. Ecology 92(4): 994-999. <Go to ISI>://WOS:000290533700019
  • Walker LR, Bellingham P 2011. Island environments in a changing world. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. 324 p.
  • McGlone M, Walker S, Hay R, Christie J 2010. Climate change, natural systems & their conservation in New Zealand. 6 6. Climate change adaptation in New Zealand : future scenarios and some sectoral perspectives. Wellington, N.Z., New Zealand Climate Change Centre. Pp. 82-99.
  • Peltzer DA, Wardle DA, Allison VJ, Baisden WT, Bardgett RD, Chadwick OA, Condron LM, Parfitt RL, Porder S, Richardson SJ, Turner BL, Vitousek PM, Walker J, Walker LR 2010. Understanding ecosystem retrogression. Ecological monographs 80(4): 509-529.
  • Bottrill MC, Joseph LN, Carwardine J, Bode M, Cook C, Game ET, Grantham H, Kark S, Linke S, McDonald-Madden E, Pressey RL, Walker S, Wilson KA, Possingham HP 2009. Finite conservation funds mean triage is unavoidable. Trends in ecology & evolution 24(4): 183-184.
  • McDonald-Madden E, Gordon A, Wintle BA, Walker S, Grantham H, Carvalho S, Bottrill M, Joseph L, Ponce R, Stewart R, Possingham HP 2009. Environment: "True" Conservation Progress. Science 323(5910): 43-44.
  • Walker S, Brower AL, Stephens T, Lee WG 2009. Why bartering biodiversity fails. Conservation letters 2: 149-157.
  • Walker S, Cieraad E, Monks A, Burrows L, Wood J, Price R, Rogers G, Lee W 2009. Long-term dynamics and rehabilitation of woody ecosystems in dryland South Island , New Zealand. In: Hobbs RJ, Suding KN ed. New models for ecosystem dynamics and restoration. Washington D.C., Island Press. Pp. 99-111.
  • Bottrill MC, Joseph LN, Carwardine J, Bode M, Cook C, Game ET, Grantham H, Kark S, Linke S, McDonald-Madden E, Pressey RL, Walker S, Wilson KA, Possingham HP 2008. Is conservation triage just smart decision making? Trends in ecology & evolution 23(12): 649-654.
  • Walker S, Brower AL, Clarkson BD, Lee WG, Myers SC, Shaw WB, Stephens RTT 2008. Halting indigenous biodiversity decline: ambiguity, equity, and outcomes in RMA assessment of significance. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 32(2): 225-237.
  • 2008. New Zealand's remaining indigenous cover: recent changes and biodiversity protection needs 284. Wellington, Department of Conservation. 82 p.
  • Walker S, Price R, Rutledge D 2008. New Zealand's remaining indigenous cover: recent changes and biodiversity protection needs. Science for conservation. 284. Wellington, New Zealand, Department of Conservation. -82 p.
  • Walker S, Price R, Stephens RTT 2008. An index of risk as a measure of biodiversity conservation achieved through land reform. Conservation biology 22(1): 48-59.
  • Craine JM, Lee WG, Walker S 2006. The context of plant invasions in New Zealand: evolutionary history and novel niches. In: Allen RB, Lee WG ed. Biological invasions in New Zealand. 168 ed. Ecological Studies. 11. Berlin, Springer. Pp. 167-177.
  • Ewers RM, Kliskey AD, Walker S, Rutledge D, Harding JS, Didham RK 2006. Past and future trajectories of forest loss in New Zealand. Biological conservation 133(3): 312-325.
  • Lloyd KM, Lee WG, Walker S 2006. Takahe Valley Hut: a focal point for weed invasion in an isolated area of Fiordland National Park, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 30(3): 371-375.
  • Ohlemuller R, Walker S, Wilson JB 2006. Local vs regional factors as determinants of the invasibility of indigenous forest fragments by alien plant species. Oikos 112(3): 493-501.
  • Walker S, Price R, Rutledge D, Stephens RTT, Lee WG 2006. Recent loss of indigenous cover in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 30(2): 169-177.
  • Walker S, Rogers GM, Lee WG, Rance B, Ward D, Rufaut C, Conn A, Simpson N, Hall G, re MC 2006. Consequences to threatened plants and insects of fragmentation of Southland floodplain forests. Science for Conservation. 265. 1-86 p.
  • Bellingham PJ, Peltzer DA, Walker LR 2005. Contrasting impacts of a native and an invasive exotic shrub on flood-plain succession. Journal of vegetation science 16(1): 135-142.
  • Rogers G, Walker S 2005. Evolution of the New Zealand vascular flora: regional and provincial patterns of richness, radiation, and endemism. New Zealand journal of botany 43: 381-414.
  • Rogers G, Walker S 2005. Is Pittosporum patulum Hook. f. threatened by pest herbivory in eastern South Island, New Zealand? New Zealand Journal of Ecology 29(1): 11-28.
  • Rogers G, Walker S, Lee B 2005. The role of disturbance in dryland New Zealand: Past and present. Science for Conservation. 1-106 p.
  • Walker S, Wilson JB, Lee WG 2005. Does fluctuating resource availability increase invasibility? Evidence from field experiments in New Zealand short tussock grassland. Biological invasions 7(2): 195-211.
  • Ohlemüller R, Bannister P, Dickinson KJM, Walker S, Anderson BJ, Wilson JB 2004. Correlates of vascular plant species richness in fragmented indigenous forests: assessing the role of local and regional factors. Community ecology 5: 45-54.
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