Risk Assessment & Ecosystem Impacts

This research team are developing standardised measures to quantify the impact both kauri dieback and myrtle rust are having on the wider ecosystem.


At A Glance:

This research team are developing standardised measures to quantify the impact both kauri dieback and myrtle rust are having on the wider ecosystem. They are incorporating existing work and increasing the integration of kaupapa Māori (Māori approaches), so they can increase the relevance of the mahi to a wider community. 

An ecosystem-level approach has long been advocated for by Māori, so this investment aims for a kaupapa Māori approach focused at site-to-landscape scales. 

This work builds heavily on myrtle rust work previously funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries. For kauri dieback, it is creating a more holistic approach in the battle to save our taonga (treasured) trees. 


Co-leads:

Dr Luitgard Schwendenmann

University of Auckland


Simon Wegner

Scion


Māori advisor:

Dr Nick Waipara

Rongawhakaata, Ngāti Ruapani

Plant and Food Research


Projects:

1. Field host susceptibility/resistance testing 

This research is co-led by Dr Julia Soewarto (Scion) and Dr Robert Beresford (Plant & Food Research).  Two field trial sites, in Rotorua and Auckland, are using the same seed-lots that have already been tested in the lab against the pandemic strain (present in NZ) and other overseas strains. 

For the first time in the world, the same plant material is being tested under controlled experimental conditions and then in the field.  This is providing information on strain virulence and how similar lab results are to those in the field. 

2. Reproductive rate, of infected and non-infected Lophomyrtus trees 

This research is determining what percentage of flowers on infected plants can successfully produce mature fruit with viable seeds. This project is led by Roanne Sutherland (Scion) and follows on from the DOC-funded project that looked at seed viability.


Upcoming Activities:

  • Monitoring of field sites for the myrtle rust projects will continue until at least July 2020 (subject to Covid-19 restrictions), at which time these projects will merge with others under the ‘Risk Assessment/Ecosystem Impacts’ research theme.
  • Use mātauranga Māori and Western science frameworks to measure ecosystem health and resilience.  Identify where risk lies – geographically for kauri and possible host species for myrtle rust. Examine broader ecological impacts of pathogens on flora and fauna that are associated with infected trees.     

Updated April 2020

Research Partners

University of Auckland

Scion

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