Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 

Identifying insect species crucial

Identifying insect species crucial to protect the environment

Students at Lincoln University are covering the length and breadth of New Zealand to discover new insect species and keep ahead of potential threats to agriculture and the environment.

Bio-Protection Research Centre students, Francesco Martoni, Samuel Brown and Hamish Patrick have visited mountains, grasslands and forests to collect insect specimens. They have identified about 50 new species.

“This research, to understand what [insects] are present in New Zealand, is vital for us to recognise any change. Especially if it involves the introduction of species that may become pests, or spread disease,” says Dr Karen Armstrong, a Senior Researcher at Lincoln University, and the students’ supervisor.

“The only way to stay ahead of this, and to detect damaging interactions, is to know what is here. And for that, we need to produce experts in traditional taxonomy who are also trained to use modern technological approaches to describe and discover [insect species],” says Dr Armstrong.

Martoni has collected psyllids from more than 200 locations, identifying more than 60 different species. Brown has described more than 40 species of native weevil. Patrick, besides having found and identified one new species of picture wing fly during a Lincoln Summer Scholarship, and four new species of New Zealand’s rare black mountain ringlet butterflies during his honours degree at Lincoln, is now researching how species that are very closely related to the highly invasive Queensland fruit fly can be distinguished.

Expertise in taxonomy is vital for the future acknowledges Dr Armstrong. While most of the insects identified by the students are native to New Zealand, one weevil is a relatively recent introduction from Europe not previously known to occur here. By comparing this weevil with unidentified specimens held in local collections, Brown discovered that it first arrived in New Zealand in 1996. This research was published recently in the “New Zealand Journal of Zoology.

Brown explains that predicting the impact of a newly introduced species is difficult. “This introduced weevil is only found in low numbers, but is already widely dispersed in the eastern South Island. It feeds on native species, so its numbers should be monitored in conservation areas.”

New Zealand has stringent biosecurity, but it is impossible to prevent every incursion. While most species are not harmful, some insects that have established in the country, such as the Argentine stem weevil, clover root weevil and tomato potato psyllid, are damaging to the country’s economy and environment.

“These discoveries highlight how important it is to have experts out collecting, accurately identifying, and cataloguing insects,” explains Brown “By depositing specimens in insect collections we can quickly identify new species in the future.”

The students have archived specimens of their identified insects in national insect collections held at Lincoln University, Landcare Research Manaaki Whenua and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

RNZ: Porirua Most Expensive Region To Rent, According To Trade Me

A rental website shows this town is now New Zealand's most expensive region to rent a house, ahead of Wellington and Auckland cities. More>>

ALSO:


Stats NZ: Nearly 1,000 More Big Businesses Now Than Two Decades Ago – Media Release

There are now 2,690 big businesses in New Zealand employing more than 100 staff – nearly 1,000 or 58 percent more than 20 years ago, Stats NZ said today. Over the 20 years to February 2020, the total number of enterprises in New Zealand increased ... More>>

ALSO:

RNZ: Housing Boom Could Get Worse, Economist Warns

Economists are calling on the Reserve Bank to reinstate lending restrictions, warning the housing market is spiralling out of control. More>>

ALSO:

Westpac: Sets Out Plan To Go Cheque-Free

Westpac NZ has announced details of its plan to phase out cheques, after signalling in May that it would be supporting a move to other forms of payment. Cheques will cease to be available as a means of payment after 25 June 2021. Westpac NZ General ... More>>

ALSO:

NZTA: Major New Zealand Upgrade Programme Projects Go To Tender

Two major New Zealand Upgrade Programme projects are beginning tenders for construction. The New Zealand Upgrade Programme is a $6.8 billion investment to get our cities moving, to save lives and boost productivity in growth areas. The first Auckland ... More>>

Reserve Bank: RBNZ Seeks To Preserve Benefits Of Cash

The Reserve Bank – Te Pūtea Matua is taking on a new role of steward of the cash system “to preserve the benefits of cash for all who need them”, Assistant Governor Christian Hawkesby told the Royal Numismatics Society of New Zealand annual conference ... More>>

ALSO:


CERT NZ: Malicious Computer Virus Targeting New Zealanders

CERT NZ, the government agency which supports organisations and individuals affected by cyber security incidents, says a recent surge of increasingly sophisticated malware attacks is affecting everyday New Zealanders as well as large organisations. The ... More>>

ALSO:

Economy: NZ Small Business Recovery Continues In September

Xero, the global small business platform, today released its Small Business Insights (XSBI) for September revealing an uptick in small business jobs and year-on-year revenue growth in New Zealand. Nationwide, the average number of jobs in the small ... More>>

ALSO:


Courts: Businessman Eric Watson Sentenced To A Four-Month Jail Term

New Zealand businessman Eric Watson has been sentenced to a four-month jail term in the UK for contempt of court, TVNZ reports. More>>

OECD: Area Employment Rate Falls By 4.0 Percentage Points, To 64.6% In Second Quarter Of 2020

The OECD area employment rate – the share of the working-age population with jobs – fell by 4.0 percentage points, to 64.6%, in the second quarter of 2020, its lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2010. Across the OECD area, 560 million persons ... More>>

Spark: Turns On 5G In Auckland And Offers A Glimpse Into The Future Of Smart Cities

Spark turned on 5G in downtown Auckland today and has partnered with Auckland Transport (AT) to showcase some of the latest in IoT (Internet of Things) technology and demonstrate what the future could look like for Auckland’s CBD with the power of 5G. 5G is ... More>>

Stats NZ: Monthly Migration Remains Low

Since the border closed in late-March 2020, net migration has averaged about 300 a month, Stats NZ said today. In the five months from April to August 2020, overall net migration was provisionally estimated at 1,700. This was made up of a net gain ... More>>