Publications in a nutshell

Welsh T, Stringer LD, Caldwell R, Carpenter JE and Suckling DM 2017. Irradiation biology of male brown marmorated stink bugs: is there scope for the sterile insect technique? International Journal of Radiation Biology

In a nutshell:

  • We irradiated newly moulted adult male brown marmorated stink bugs and mated them with virgin female bugs of the same age.
  • 97% of eggs from non-irradiated females mated to irradiated males (16 Gy) did not produce adults.
  • Fewer adults were produced when the parent male bugs were exposed to higher radiation doses.
  • It appears technically feasible to irradiate male stink bugs for a sterile insect release programme, yet questions remain around male fitness, optimal dose and operational requirements, such as, mass rearing and transport logistics for a release programme.

Stringer LD, Kean JM, Beggs, JR and Suckling, DM. Management and eradication options for Queensland fruit fly. Population Ecology, 59 (3): 259-273 full text-view only

In a nutshell:

  • We developed a population growth model for Queensland fruit fly ‘Qfly’, Bactrocera tryoni (Diptera: Tephritidae).
  • We estimated the effective sampling area of cuelure traps and protein baits.
  • The effect of different population management tools, trap, baits and the sterile insect technique used alone and in combination, impacted Qfly population growth differently.
  • Tools that interfered with female mating success, such as, the sterile insect technique and protein baits, reduced populations, while the killing of male flies only shifted the timing for population growth.
  • The mass killing of male flies and the sterile insect technique (male release) were not compatible.


Stringer LD, Corn JE, Roh H-S, Jiménez-Pérez A, Manning LM, Harper AR, and Suckling DM 2017. Thigmotaxis mediates trail odour disruption. Scientific reports 7:1670.

In a nutshell:

  • We investigated the ability of Argentine ants Linepithema humile to switch from chemotaxis (trail pheromone) to thigmotaxis (touch) as their primary means for following a trail.
  • We supplied an increasing amount of trail pheromone to disrupt their trail following ability, but provided them with a length of string as a guide to offset the disruption effect.
  • Ants that had the physical stimulus of the string were harder to disrupt, but eventually could not overcome the super-abundance of trail pheromone, providing further evidence that odour is the primary sensory system for trail following in the Argentine ant.

Bassett IE, Horner IJ, Hough EG, Wolber FM, Egeter B, Stanley MC, Krull CR. 2017. Ingestion of infected roots by feral pigs provides a minor vector pathway for kauri dieback disease Phytophthora agathidicida. Forestry (Lond) 2017 1-9. doi: 10.1093/forestry/cpx019

In a nutshell:

  • We investigated P. agathidicida survival of pig gut passage in a captive feeding experiment, and assessed P. agathidicida incidence in feral pig stomachs from DNA.
  • We detected viable P. agathidicida from pig faeces, but only in one sample, and none from the stomach sampling.
  • Ingestion of contaminated material by feral pigs is probably a minor pathway for P. agathidicida.

KENDALL L, WARD DF. 2016. Habitat determinants of the taxonomic and functional diversity of parasitoid wasps. Biodiversity & Conservation. 25(10), 1955-1972

In a nutshell:

  • Vegetation type, plant diversity, and coarse woody debris were the most important factors affecting the abundance and diversity of parasitoid wasps.
  • Different parasitoid groups showed different patterns to habitat variables. So, a wide range of different micro-habitats is required to adequately conserve total diversity.
  • Kauri conifer forest supported a specialised parasitoid community, with lower abundance and species richness than broadleaved forest, but with higher functional evenness.

Sheppard CS, Burns BR, Stanley MC. 2016. Future-proofing weed management for the effects of climate change: is New Zealand underestimating the risk of increased plant invasions? New Zealand Journal of Ecology 40:

In a nutshell:

  • Subtropical and tropical plant species will be more successful and invasive in New Zealand under climate change conditions.
  • There is very little current management action directed towards addressing climate change impacts on weeds; the vast number of environmental weeds is overwhelming for managers.
  • Actions that could be taken include: incorporating a ‘climate change factor’ into predictions of future weed distributions and prioritisation processes; increasing funding for surveillance and early detection; banning plants that have weedy potential under climate change; and educating the public about their plant choices.

MACINNIS-NG C, ZEPPEL M, PALMER A, EAMUS D. 2016. Seasonal variations in tree water use and physiology correlate with soil salinity and soil water content in remnant woodlands on saline soils. Journal of Arid Environments, 129: 102-110.

In a nutshell:

  • Dryland salinity is a significant problem in semi-arid regions of the world where land has been cleared of vegetation.
  • Remnant woodlands combat salinity by lowering groundwater, reducing soil surface salt.
  • We measured seasonal carbon uptake and water use of trees, soil salinity and water content.
  • Some plant functional measurements were correlated with some soil measurements but seasonal changes in meteorology drove unexpected plant-soil relationships.
  • We found that trees that appeared unhealthy were functioning as well as those that were in better health.

Krull CR, Stanley MC, Burns BR, Etherington TR, Choquenot D. 2016. Reducing Wildlife Damage with Cost-Effective Management Programmes. PLoS One DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0146765

In a nutshell:

  • It is often assumed that a reduction in feral pig density will result in an equal reduction in ground disturbance impacts.
  • We measured ground disturbance (rooting) by pigs throughout the Waitakere Ranges (Auckland, NZ) over a 3-year control programme (hunting).
  • The control operation reduced the pig population by a third, but it reduced ground disturbance by more than half.
  • Simulating various hunting regimes via models showed that hunting teams must be deployed no more than 3 months apart to achieve a constant reduction in ground disturbance.
  • Managers should consider carefully both the level of investment and the level of damage that are acceptable, and decide on the damage trigger point for control to ensure biodiversity outcomes are achieved.

Suckling DM, Stringer LD, Jiménez-Pérez A, Bunn B and Vander Meer RK 2016. Communication disruption of red imported fire ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and reduced foraging success. Myrmecological news. 23: 25-31.

In a nutshell:

  • Red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, trail following ability was disrupted with an over-supply of their orientation trail pheromone.
  • Trail following integrity, measured as r-squared, was reduced under pheromone disruption, as was the speed at which ants found and returned food to the nest.
  • Trail pheromone disruption has the potential for reducing the fire ant’s competitive ability in the field if low cost commercially available disruptants become available.

Stanley, M. C., J. R. Beggs, I. E. Bassett, B. R. Burns, K. N. Dirks, D. N. Jones, W. L. Linklater, C. Macinnis-Ng, R. Simcock, G. Souter-Brown, S. A. Trowsdale, and K. J. Gaston. 2015. Emerging threats in urban ecosystems: a horizon scanning exercise. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 13:553-560.

  • Early identification and mitigation of threats to the biota of urban ecosystems is important for both people and wildlife
  • We conducted a horizon scanning exercise to identify emerging (new and poorly known) threats to urban ecosystems, to facilitate planning and encourage prompt, proactive responses from policy makers and managers
  • Among the 10 potential threats identified were risks associated not only with rapid technological advances but also with increasing human demands on nature