Joint Graduate School in Biodiversity and Biosecurity

The Joint Graduate School in the media

Find a sample of media coverage featuring the Graduate School's research, staff and students below.

James Russell: Giant leap to pest-free NZ is attainable

The New Zealand Herald, August 1 2016 

Joint Graduate School in Biodiversity and Biosecurity lecturer Dr James Russell recently published an opinion piece in the New Zealand Herald supporting the feasibility and importance of creating a pest-free New Zealand by 2050.

Read the article on the New Zealand Herald website 


How we can out-sniff a kiwi-killing predator

The New Zealand Herald, August 1 2016

Research conducted by PhD candidate Patrick Garvey within the Joint Graduate School in Biodiversity and Biosecurity has been featured in teh New Zealand Herald last week. The article discusses Patrick's finding that stoats are attracted to the scent of cats and ferrets, opening the possibility to use these scents to attract stoats in to traps.


Read the full article on the New Zealand Herald website

Why the daily bread is not good for birds

North Shore Times, June 28 2016

The research of Joint Graduate School PhD candidate Josie Galbraith was featured in the North Shore Times section 'Backyard Banter'. Joise's work foussed on the effects of bread and seed feeding on bird populations in urban backyards. She found that feeding bread and seeds massively increased the proportion of introduced birds in a backyard, and had a distinctly negative impact o the presence of one native: the grey warbler. Josie also points out that bringing a large number of birds in to a small confined area increases the risk of avian disease transmission.


Read a 2015 Stuff article on Josie's work

Visit Josie's webpage 

Emerging threats in urban ecosystems: a horizon scanning exercise

December 3 2015

A recent study led by Joint Graduate School Senior lecturer Margaret Stanley has been published in Frontiers in Ecology and Environment that posits potential future threats to biodiversity within urban areas. Bringing together researchers from New Zeaalnd, Australia and Great Britain, the study identified ten current trends in urban environments that may require mitigation in the future to protect urban biodiveristy.

The paper has been covered extensively in the media over the past few days.

Read coverage on the New Zealand Herald website

Read article on

Watch interview with Dr Stanley on TV3 news 

Visit Dr Margaret Stanley's webpage 


Ecology in action

Our Changing World, December 3 2015

Joint Graduate School Senior lecturer Bruce Burns was interviewed by Alison Ballance about a long term vegetation dataset he has been collecting with Assoc. Prof. George Perry in the Kaueranga Valley.  

You can listen to the interview on the Radio New Zealand website; Bruce's interview starts just before the 7 minute mark.

Listen to the inteview on the Radio New Zealand website 

Swanning around at the airport

Manukau Courier, September 22 2015

Research within the Joint Graduate School looking at the movement of swans around Auckland Airport was featured in the Manukau Courier this month. The research is being undertaken by MSc student Rebecca Lehrke in conjunction with New Zealand Fish and Game. Data from 20 GPS tagged black swans will be used to inform the airport's plane strike management programme.  

Stocktake of Akl's trees finds low numbers and poor protection

Radio New Zealand National, June 8 2015

Margaret Stanley of the Joint Graduate School in Biodiveristy and Biosecurity discussed Auckland's treescape on Nine to Noon today. Research conducted by Senior Lecturer Dr Margaret Stanley and Research Fellow Dr Sarah Wyse found that Auckland retains only 6% of its' area in trees, and only 15% of them have protection, leaving them vulnerable to clearance through urban intensification.

Listen to the interview on Radio New Zealand's website

Visit Dr Stanley's webpage 

Feed the Birds

Radio New Zealand National, April 2 2015

Joint Graduate School in Biodiversity and Biosecurity PhD candidate Josie Galbraith was interviewed for Radio New Zealand National's 'Our Changing World' program. She discussed her research in to New Zealand's bird feeding culture with David Steemson.

Josie says that all garden owners who feed birds should be asking the questions “Is the food I’m putting out for the birds good for them? Am I keeping the feeding area clean?" and, "should I just plant some native trees the birds will come to feed from?".


Listen to the interview on Radio New Zealand National's website

Visit Josie Galbraith's webpage

Mice take over island in months

The New Zealand Herald, February 11 2015

Joint Graduate School in Biodiversity and Biosecurity doctoral candidate Helen Nathan's research was featured in the New Zealand Herald this week. The article discusses Helen's research measuring the growth rate of an invading mouse population and has been illustrated by Rod Emmerson.

Read the article on the Herald's website

Visit Helen Nathan's webpage

THE BIG KILL: New Zealand's crusade to rid itself of mammals

The New Yorker, December 22 2014

Dr. James Russell was recently featured in an article by Elizabeth Kolbert about New Zealand's world- leading and bloody approach to conservation. James' expertise with rodent eradications are a feature of the article.

Read the full article on The New Yorker's website

Visit Dr James Russell's webpage

The private lives of weevils

One News, 27 August 2014

Joint Graduate School in Biodiversity and Biosecurity Postdoctoral Fellow Dr Chrissie Painting was recently interviewed about her research on the mating habits of New Zealand giraffe weevils (Lasiorynchus barbicornis).

Watch the interview on One News' website

Visit Chrissie's webpage


Seeing the wood for the trees: Exploring variability in the valuing of trees and biodiversity in a transforming Auckland

National Radio, 16 August 2014

What are trees worth to you? Joint Graduate School in Biodiversity and Biosecurity researchers Dr Margaret Stanley and Robyn Simcock are part of a team trying to understand what value people put on trees in New Zealand's largest city. 

This radio article focuses on the Wynyard Quarter, but relates to wider work that Dr Stanley is leading with human geographer, Professor Robin Kearns (School of Environment) and colleagues from Landcare, Massey University (SHORE) and Unitec. 

Listen to the article on Radio New Zealand's website

Visit Dr Margaret Stanley's webpage

Farmland access needed for research on alternative pollinator research to safeguard horticulture

Radio New Zealand Morning Rural News, 15 July 2014

PhD candidate Jamie Stavert has featured on Radio New Zealand seeking interest from Waikato farmers who can lend a plot of land for a few months. Jamie's research will investigate the role of pollinators other than honeybees as crop pollinators and how their role can be increased.  

Listen to the news piece on Radio New Zealand's website (from about 1.20 mins)

Read more about the project on the Plant and Food website

Visit Jamie Stavert's webpage

International survey of dune grass fungi comes to Britain

Sand Dune and Shingle Network Newsletter, June 2014

Joint Graduate School in Biodiversity and biosecurity PhD candidate Renee Johansen has had a recent article published about her trip to Britain to collect samples for her research on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. It is an excellent non-technical explanation of her work. A copy is available for download below.

Visit Renee's webpage


Sand Dune and Shingle Network Newsletter, June 2014
See the second to last page for Renee Johansen's article (4.3 MB, PDF)

Opposition fierce for tomato growers seeking to introduce a biocontrol agent

The National Business Review, 21 February 2014

JGS in Biodiversity and Biosecurity Academic Margaret Stanley discussed her opposition to the introduction of Macrolophus pygmaeus as a biocontrol agent with the National Business Review, citing the non-specificity of the control agent as a key issue.

Read the full article on the National Business Review website

Why are there so many cicadas?

The Paul Henry Show, 18 February 2014

Joint Graduate School in Biodiversity and Biosecurity Associate Professor Jacqueline Beggs appeared on The Paul Henry Show to discuss the large numbers of cicadas people are reporting calling this summer.

Watch the show on the TV3 website (from 17 min 30s)

The University of Auckland Reserves

Auckland University News, 24 Januray 2014

Joint Graduate School in Biodiversity and Biosecurity staff member Cate Macinnis-Ng was recently interviewed for a profile of the land owned by the University as reserves. Cate heads the University Reserves Advisory Group.

Read the full article on the University website (Available to University staff only)

Learn more about the University Reserves

Wasps named after Hobbit characters, 10 December 2013

Stuff recently ran an article about new Joint Graduate School in Biodiversity and Biosecurity Senior Lecturer Darren Ward's joint discovery of new wasp species and the choice of name. The new genus is called Shireplitis after the Shire, and the species are S. bilboi, S. frodoi, S. meriadoci, S. peregrini, S. samwisei and S. tolkieni, after characters Bilbo, Frodo, Merry, Pippin, Sam and Tolkien himself.

Read the article on the Stuff website

Visit Darren's website

The names were discussed on National Radio's show The Panel

Listen to the The Panel episode on National Radio's website (skip to 24 minutes)

Praying mantis peril: Native mantis losing out to an invasive cannibal

Recently the research led by Joint Graduate School in Biodiversity and Biosecurity academic Greg Holwell on the plight of New Zealand's native mantis has been in the news. Research at the University of Auckland has looked at mating behaviour interactions between the native mantis Orthodera novaezealandiae and the South African species Miomantis caffra. Their work has found that males of the native species are preferentially attempting to mate with females of the South African species, and that this generally results in them being cannibalised before they are able to mate.

Read more on the Science News website

Read more on the National Geographic website

Read more on the ABC Science website

Visit Greg Holwell's webpage

Our Changing world: Goat Island Marine Reserve


Radio New Zealand National, 9 September 2013

Joint Graduate School in Biodiversity and Biosecurity academic Dr. James Russell discussed the often overlooked ecology of Goat Island recently on Radio New Zealand National.

Episode summary

Every year more than 300,000 visitors head to the Goat Island Marine Reserve at Leigh, north of Auckland. But as they swim and snorkel their way past the little island that gives the reserve its name, how many of them give it any thought? One person who has is James Russell, winner of the 2012 Prime Minister's MacDiarmid Prize for Emerging Scientist. Alison Ballance joins him to meet some of the grey-faced petrels that live there.

Listen to the interview on Radio New Zealand National's website

Project Matauranga Ep 3 – Honeydew, the Food of the Ngahere (Dr Jacqueline Beggs)

Project Matauranga, Māori Television, Monday 9 September 2013

The Director of the Joint Graduate School in Biodiversity and Biosecurity, Dr Jacqueline Beggs, was featured on an episode of Project Matauranga that screened on 9 September.

Episode synopsis
Dr Jacqueline Beggs takes us on a journey into the life that resides below the surface in the forest. The native bugs that sustain all life there and are under threat from introduced wasps and the Ngati Awa professor walks us through attempts to control them.

Series synopsis
From protecting our national icon, the Kiwi, to working on ground-breaking new treatments in the fight against cancer, Maori scientific innovation is at the forefront of the second series of PROJECT MATAURANGA, on Maori Television. Presented by Victoria University lecturer Dr Ocean Mercier, the 13-part series is funded by Te Māngai Paho and sponsored by The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. The 2nd part of the series continues on Monday 2nd September 2013.

Watch the episode on the Maori Television website

Dr Bruce Burns discusses the impact of kauri dieback disease on New Zealand's environment

Radio Live, Sat 20 July 2013

Joint Graduate School academic Dr Burce Burns recently discussed what we know about kauri dieback and its potential impact on our environment with Radio Live's Environews segment.

Listen to the interview on the Radio Live website

PhD student helping to improve the practice of sustainability

North Shore Times, 4 April, 2013

Joint Graduate School of Biodiversity and Biosecurity PhD candidate Renee Johansen was recently interviewed by the North Shore Times about her research and the benefits of returning to University as a mature student with life experience.

Read the full article on the North Shore Times website

Visit Renee's website

Research leads to call for wild pigs to get pest status

NewstalkZB, 26 March 2013

Joint Graduate School in Biodiversity and Biosecurity Postdoctoral researcher Cheryl Krull was interviewed by Newstalk ZB about her opinion that in areas of high conservation status, feral pigs may need to be controlled to prevent negative ecological impacts. Her comments come from her PhD research, which examined the effects of feral pigs on native ecosystems and the spread of the disease PTA.

Read the full story on Newstalk ZB

Visit Cheryl's webpage

The story has also been reported by several other sites

Read the story on

Read the story on

Read the story on scoop

Critically endangered NZ storm petrel found breeding

New Zealand Herald, 25 February 2013

Joint Graduate School Postdoctoral scholar Dr Matt Rayner was interviewed by the New Zealand Herald about his successful work tracking the breeding location of the New Zealand storm petrel.

The New Zealand storm petrel was thought to be extinct its rediscovery in 2003.

Read the full story on the New Zealand Herald website

Visit Matt Rayner's web profile

Kauri dieback funding runs out

Western Leader 22 January 2013

Joint Graduate School postdoctoral student Cheryl Krull’s PhD research on feral pigs and their potential for spreading kauri dieback is highlighted in the Western Leader.

Cheryl was briefing MP Phil Twyford on the problem and the consequences if funding for research in to the disease is not renewed mid way through next year.

Read the full story on the Stuff website

Dr James Russell awarded Prime Minister's 2012 Emerging Scientist Prize

One News, 29 November 2012

Dr Russell was interviewed about his work by TVNZ.

Watch the TVNZ video here

Read about the award on the Joint Graduate School's news page

The effects of climate change on the survival of kauri

One News, 25 October 2012

Cate Macinnis-Ng, a research fellow in the Joint Graduate School in Biodiversity and Biosecurity, was recently interviewed by One News about her research in to the effects of a changing climate on the survival rates of our iconic kauri.

View the video on the One News website

Visit Cate's web page

Read about Cate's research on the Royal Society of New Zealand's website

Stoat study tracks pest migration

Scoop Regional Independent News, 21 July 2011

Auckland Council is funding research into stoats to offset a significant threat to Hauraki Gulf islands. A $30,000 grant made to the University of Auckland helps fund two years’ work by PhD student Andrew Veale to conduct research into stoat migration. His research will be used by the council to help plan eradication and surveillance programmes by identifying where stoats originate from.

Read the full article on the Scoop Regional Independent News website

Virus threatens NZ parrots, 15 June 2012

JGS PhD candidate Josie Galbraith has been involved in a collaborative study on the extent of beak and feather disease (BFDV) in New Zealand's birds. The potentially fatal disease was found in New Zealand's red-fronted parakeets on Little Barrier Island in 2008 and potentially threatens many of New Zealand's parrot species.

Josie investigated the occurence of the disease in invasive Australian Eastern rosella in Auckland for her Masters thesis at the University of Auckland.

Read the full article on the Stuff website

Rat invasion - a threat to Faroese biodiversity

Sjónvarp Føroya, 16 June 2011

James Russell demonstrates the tools used in New Zealand to prevent rat invasion of islands while on a Royal Society of New Zealand mobility grant to visit the Faroe Islands.

Watch the video clip on James Russel's website

Stoats – threat to island birdlife

The Listener, 28 May 2011

"Introduced predators – stoats, feral cats and rats – are second only to habitat destruction as the scourge of New Zealand’s native bird species. Thanks to the efforts of generations of wildlife conservators, predator-free islands such as Kapiti, Codfish and Little Barrier have allowed species like the kakapo, saddleback and stitchbird to recover and pull back from the brink of extinction. But how safe are our “predator-free” islands from recolonisation? Not very, according to new research by University of Auckland PhD student Andrew Veale, who has been studying stoat genetics while based at Landcare Research."

Read the full article on the Listener website

A visit from a biologist

Learning Hub 3 Blog from Stonefields School, Auckland, 22 May 2011

"On Friday, during the second block, Annette came over to share her insect presentation with us. Annette is a biologist from the University of Auckland and she spends a lot of time studying insects."

Read the full blog post on the Learning Hub 3 website

Climate change and weeds

Radio New Zealand, Country Live, 25 March 2011

PhD student Christine Sheppard talks about how climate change will affect the spread of exotic weeds.

Listen to the radio feature on the Radio New Zealand website

Science Up Front: Sandra H. Anderson and Dave Kelly on the Cascading Effects of Bird Extinction

Encyclopedia Britannica Blog, 8 March 2011

On New Zealand’s North Island, rolling hills and river valleys separate bays and beaches and are home to a unique collection of plants and birds. But since the introduction of nonnative bird predators—particularly cats, rats, and stoats—several species of birds have become locally extinct. And as biologists Sandra H. Anderson and Dave Kelly recently reported, this decline in bird populations has triggered a cascade of ecological change that is now reducing the density of bird-pollinated plants.

Read the full article on the Encyclopedia Britannica website