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16th Annual Geoff Baylis Lecture: Living in the rainshadow: New Zealand’s most distinctive and threatened ecosystems

Wednesday 20th September, 2017

Start time: 5:15 PM

Finish time: 7:00 PM

Speaker: Dr Susan Walker. Castle 1, University of Otago (drinks and nibbles starting from 5.15 pm in the concourse). The Geoff Baylis Lecture is held annually by the Botanical Society of Otago, in conjunction with the Department of Botany. It is named in honour of Dr Geoff Baylis, the first Professor of Botany at the University of Otago. This year's lecturer is Dr Susan Walker, an ecologist with Manaaki Whenua—Landcare Research in Dunedin. For the last 20 years her research has focussed on the past and present ecology of some of New Zealand's driest, and most invaded and modified terrestrial ecosystems. These mixtures of short tussock grasslands, shrublands, cushionfields and mat vegetation are the interface between high producing pasture and "our golden tussock grasslands" in the inland eastern South Island. Two realisations grew simultaneously, that: (1) these habitats have special ecological character, representing the last remaining examples of the evolutionary response of the native biota to protracted arid conditions in New Zealand, and (2) they are rapidly disappearing under irrigated pasture and wilding conifers. Susan will describe the cryptic ecology of a disappearing biome, focusing on the fauna and flora of the Mackenzie Basin.

Contact Robyn Bridges, phone: (03) 472 7330.