CDT x EDG seminar series #12: Dr. Ronny Groenteman
2 for 1: New Zealand’s weed biocontrol in a nutshell plus a close-up examination of a case study on what we could do to overcome biocontrol scepticism
Ronny Groenteman1, Simon Fowler1, Jon Sullivan2, Yvonne Buckley3, Rob Salguero-Gómez4
1Landcare Research, 2Lincoln University, 3Trinity College Dublin, 4University of Queensland.
Biological control of weeds research in New Zealand is primarily done by a small group at the Crown Research Institute Landcare Research. In this talk I will give an overview of how our science works hand in hand with operative programmes, and will touch on why our regulatory system works well. I will then dwell on the successful programme against St. John’s wort, Hypericum perforatum – a case study selected to demonstrate the connection between biocontrol and weed populations decline. Demonstrating cause and effect in biological control is no easy undertaking yet it is crucial for us to provide strong scientific evidence of biocontrol effectiveness. The St. John’s wort project includes an intensive field experiment, multi-model inference approach to data analysis, and finally, periodic Integrated Projection Modelling approach to describe the population demography of the weed in the presence and absence of biocontrol. How effective will this undertaking be in convincing sceptics that biocontrol can work is yet to be seen. What is clear is that the resources required for such studies are vast and we must think carefully about the circumstances where this approach will advance decision making not only in a given programme, but in biocontrol science & practice a whole.