Ecology and Biodiversity
Victoria researchers work on a range of projects in marine biology, conservation biology, reproductive biology, evolutionary genetics, and more. Many of these projects involve collaboration with other organisations, including the nearby National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).
The School of Biological Sciences is a southern hemisphere leader in several areas of conservation biology including large mammal and reptile conservation. Researchers have study sites on nearby islands in Cook Strait and as far afield as Antarctica, South Africa and South America.
Our biodiversity and ecology researchers work to identify and restore depleted populations, species and communities in ecosystems that have been impacted by human activity.
Researchers in our marine biology programme have strengths in pure and applied research in areas such as aquaculture, coral reefs, fish population dynamics, coastal protection, biodiversity and conservation. Our excellent coastal ecology laboratory, at Wellington’s south coast, overlooks spectacular exposed rocky reef systems typical of Cook Strait.
Victoria is one of five universities participating in the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution, which brings together researchers working on projects in molecular biology, ecology and evolution. Victoria researchers specialise in using ecological and molecular techniques to investigate New Zealand’s biodiversity, focusing on species like tuatara, kiwi and native frogs.
Find out more about specific research projects in ecology and biodiversity:
Angry Wasps Deal to their Competitors
Victoria ecologists have identified a surprising and previously unknown animal behaviour by studying interactions between native ants and invasive wasps in South Island beech forests.
Video taken at bait stations shows that wasps frustrated by having to compete for food with ants will pick up the ants in their mandibles, fly off and drop them away from the food.
Small Sea Snail Damaging World’s Coral Reefs
Coral reefs are dying all over the world. While corals are known to be threatened by warming seas, pollution and overfishing, a Victoria University marine ecologist has found that their biggest threat could come from a small marine snail.
Dr Jeff Shima, an Associate Professor in Marine Ecology and Director of Victoria’s Coastal Ecology Laboratory, is studying the worm snail Dendropoma maximum at Moorea, French Polynesia.
Award Winning Ecology Photographs
Benjamin Magana-Rodriguez, who has recently submitted his PhD in ecology and biodiversity, has won an international photography competition.
Magana-Rodriguez, a self-taught photographer, was overall winner of the 2011 British Ecological Society Photographic Competition. He also won the Ecology and Society, Ecology in Action and Whole Organisms and Populations categories.
Invasive Yellow Crazy Ant Up Against Supercomputer
The yellow crazy ant, Anoplolepis gracilipes, is an invasive pest in many parts of South-east Asia, Australia and the Pacific. Monica Gruber, a PhD candidate in Victoria’s School of Biological Sciences, is using genomics, along with the Science Faculty’s new high performance computer, to determine if there is a genetic basis for the ant’s invasion success.
On Christmas Island, yellow crazy ants have reached densities of more than 2000 ants per square metre – the highest density of foraging ants ever recorded.