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Symposium honours science achiever's memory

Symposium honours science achiever's memory

Leading researchers from New Zealand and around the world are gathering this week in Queenstown for a symposium in memory of internationally respected AgResearch scientist Dr Nigel Barlow, who died in June last year after a courageous battle with cancer.

Over the last 25 years, Dr Barlow made an enormous contribution to New Zealand wildlife management and ecology through the use of computer models to understand how and why animal populations fluctuate – in particular, insect pests such as grassgrub, and vertebrate pests such as possums. His bovine Tb model has played a central role in current strategies for preventing the spread of this disease from possums to cattle herds. Among his many other achievements, Dr Barlow’s work helped predict the number of pest wasps from year to year, and he also developed models to assess the impacts of RHD on rabbits and introduced predators on native birds. The Animal Health Board, the Department of Conservation, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Landcare Research and many other agencies used Dr Barlow’s work. He received numerous national and international awards, including two prestigious Marsden awards. The Australasian Wildlife Management Society posthumously awarded him the coveted Caughley Medal for a lifetime contribution to wildlife management and ecology.

Landcare Research ecologist John Parkes is one of the main organisers of the symposium. Mr Parkes says the symposium has brought together about 14 high-profile overseas researchers and an equal number of New Zealanders to give papers in areas that Nigel had an interest. They profile wildlife diseases in general, Tb transmission, and key biosecurity topics. Highlights include papers on wasp dynamics, biocontrol of varroa mites using a competing strain of varroa, and making North Island kokako safe. Dr Barlow’s models contributed to the research to be reported in many of the papers.

Mr Parkes says the scope of the papers reflects Dr Barlow’s diverse interests and wide ranging influence. “Nigel was highly respected by his colleagues, and his research yielded high quality results that were particularly useful in solving practical problems.”

AgResearch ecologist Dr John Kean also helped to organise the symposium. “Nigel was not only a great scientist, mentor, and friend, but also an enthusiastic mountaineer, so it is particularly fitting that a symposium in his honour be held in Queenstown amid the mountains he loved,” Dr Kean says.

The symposium was made possible through the support of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology and the Royal Society of New Zealand’s International Symposium Fund, provided by the Ministry for Research, Science and Technology.

Nigel Barlow Memorial Symposium: Practical Applications of ecological theory and modelling.

11 am Wednesday, 15 September – 12.30 pm 17 September, Mercure Resort, Sainsbury Rd, Queenstown.

Media are welcome to attend part or the entire symposium. The symposium programme is available on: http://www.improvedbiosecurity.org/BarlowSymp/Programme.htm

For more general information,

>http://www.improvedbiosecurity.org/BarlowSymp/Welcome.htm

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