Joint Graduate School in Biodiversity and Biosecurity

Who we are


Mark J. Costello (Associate Professor in Marine Science)

Email: an ecologist involved in biodiversity data management and analysis. He has been closely involved in over 9 European Commission biodiversity research projects; the World Register of Marine Species, the Ocean Biogeographic Information System; Global Biodiversity Information Facility, Society for the Management of Electronic Biodiversity Data Council, MARINE-B (biodiversity) email list, International Association of Biological Oceanography (part of IUBS and ICSU), and the Scientific Committee on Ocean Research.

Publications include how to develop biodiversity data infrastructures and analyses of such data, including predicting global species diversity. He has over 90 peer-reviewed publications, and has supervised over 30 graduate students.



Mick Clout (Professor in Conservation Biology)


…is a conservation ecologist. He has published widely in applied ecology and conservation and has provided scientific leadership in research on the ecology of New Zealand vertebrates for many years.

His main fields of research are the ecology and conservation of native birds, and the behaviour and management of invasive mammals.

Early work, carried out when he was with the DSIR Ecology Division, included research on the effects of plantation forestry on birds and the role of birds as seed dispersers. More recent research at the University of Auckland, has included the application of sex allocation theory to kakapo conservation, and studies on the behaviour and management of invasive mammals. He chaired the IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group from 1994 to 2008.

Mick was the recipient of the Charles Fleming Award from RSNZ in 2007, the IUCN Sir Peter Scott Award in 2008, and was elected as Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2010.


Shyama Pagad (Program Manager Invasive Species Information Management)


…manages the Information Services of the Invasive Species Specialist Group –ISSG of the Species Survival Commission –SSC of the International Union for Conservation of Nature –IUCN. The ISSG aims to reduce threats to natural ecosystems and the native species they contain by increasing awareness of invasive alien species, and of ways to prevent, control or eradicate them. The group has developed and manages and maintains the Global Invasive Species Database –GISD and the Island Biodiversity and Invasive Species Database- IBIS. It also hosts the Global Islands Invasive Vertebrate Eradications Database.

Shyama is working towards developing a Centre for Invasive Species Information Management. Her research interest is in the area of assessing the impact of biological invasions on threatened species and vulnerable habitats.



Todd Dennis (Lecturer in Movement and Spatial Ecology)


... research interests fall within the domains of movement, spatial, and behavioural ecology: how do animals use space, map their environments, and why and how do they respond to internal and external cues as they move through the space-time continuum? Using as model systems a variety of species inhabiting diverse environments (terrestrial, marine, and aerial), mathematical/empirical models, and geostatistical/geospatial analyses he investigates various questions (both basic and applied) relating to spatial cognition, navigation, migration, dispersal, translocation and other movement phenomena. Data in these studies are obtained mostly by remote-tracking technologies (GPS & ARGOS satellite telemetry, light-based geolocators). In all my research he relies heavily on methods of Geographic Information Science.

Publications include characterization and development of methods for analysing animal-movement trajectories, theoretical studies on navigation, and conservation-related questions.



Zhi-Qiang Zhang (Senior Researcher, Landcare Research)


... is a systematist and ecologist. He is based in the New Zealand Arthropod Collection, Landcare Research on the University of Auckland Tamaki campus. Zhi-Qiang's research is centred around the systematics, diversity and ecology of the Acari. He has published over 200 peer-reviewed papers and numerous books, most of them on mites. Zhi-Qiang is the president of the Systematic & Applied Acarology Society, a Commissioner of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, and a member of the Top 10 Species International Committee. He is the chief editor/founder of several international journals in biology, including the largest taxonomic journal Zootaxa.


Hanieh Saeedi (PhD candidate)


…is a PhD student on marine biogeography and using data from GBIF, OBIS, WoRMS, as well as contributing to the development of their content. She was a top student in her university MSc programme, has published 5 papers in peer-reviewed international journals and 10 in local journals on the biology, ecology, and metal concentration in clams, phytoplankton, and crustaceans.



Zeenatul Basher (PhD candidate)


…has an MSc in tropical coastal management, fisheries and aquaculture; over 6 years experience of working with organisations in Asia and Europe in the field of RS & GIS in marine environment, aquaculture planning, environmental assessments and corporate ICT Infrastructure management. He is a PhD student working on marine species habitat and distribution modelling using regional and global marine environmental data.


Eliot Crafton (PhD candidate)

Email: a PhD student working on the development of a model to assess invasion risk for non-native species that combines species distribution modelling and introduction likelihood.

He is visiting from the University of California, Davis, on a fellowship hosted by the United States National Science Foundation and the Royal Society of New Zealand. He has an MSc from the MESPOM programme, an Erasmus Mundus Masters Course in Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management operated by Central European University, the University of Manchester, Lund University, and the University of the Aegean.


Marcella Garcia Carrillo (MSc candidate)

Email: a MSc in Environmental Science student working on marine biogeography comparing major regional marine species inventories using data from WoRMS. Her research is focused on richness and endemism patterns with conservation purposes. She has degrees in Biology and Microbiology and her area of interest is biodiversity conservation.


Cherrys Abrigo (MSc candidate)


… is pursuing a Masters degree in Environmental Science, focusing on marine and coastal environment. She is currently working on connectivity analyses of marine reserves in New Zealand. After completing the degree, she is hoping to continue being involved in local and international coastal and marine projects and reapply some of the best practices to her own country, the Philippines, which is known for its vast marine biodiversity and coastal environment. She has been volunteering for different environmental and humanitarian activities for the past 8 years and also has a background in Chemical Engineering and agro-industrial waste management, which prove complimentary to her interests.


Aron Katona (Postgraduate student)

Email: a postgraduate student. His proposed MSc research will provide an ecological baseline of the intertidal estuarine habitat at the Te Matuku Marine Reserve, against which possible future changes such as reserve management, coastal development, sedimentation, pollution, introduced species and climate change can be assessed.