Protecting our ecosystems from invasive pests
"The challenge ahead is to promote national collaboration on a high-level strategy for biosecurity surveillance which would identify the key areas on which to focus research."
New Zealand is renowned globally as a leader in biosecurity and for its understanding and management of biological introductions. Biosecurity is inextricably linked with the University's focus on bio-heritage, restoration ecology, stream and lake health, as well as the monitoring of the coastal marine environment through the Tauranga-based Coastal Marine Field Station.
Our work crosses all aspects of the invasion process, from prevention through to pest and disease management. This is demonstrated by the research conducted into understanding the risks of new species arrivals through vessel activity, the development of a world-first early detection test for the invasive algal species didymo that is now used throughout New Zealand, and the management of pest species such as stoats, koi carp and other pest fish.
The challenge ahead is to promote national collaboration on a high-level strategy for biosecurity surveillance which would identify the key areas on which to focus research. The strategy would aim to identify the most likely pathways of pest entry into New Zealand waterways; the potential pest invaders; and the invasive species that could have the most negative impact, for example, species that could significantly impact regional aquaculture development.
At a regional level, the University works closely with the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Port of Tauranga and Waikato Regional Council in ecological monitoring and pest management research. Professor Chris Battershill heads the Coastal Marine Field Station and leads the Rena Long-term Environmental Monitoring Programme as part of the recovery plan following the 2011 Rena oil spill. His team also works closely with the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to eradicate incursions of the invasive pest, Mediterranean Fanworm, which is threatening to take hold in Tauranga Harbour and is among six of the most unwanted saltwater pests in New Zealand.