Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Past Research Students

Recent Graduates

Supervisor Graduated
Luke Easton PhD Kath Dickinson
Trent Rasmussen MSc Haseeb Randhawa
Romana Salis PhD Tina Summerfield
Jaz Morris PhD Tina Summerfield 2018
Bryce Kahlert MSc David Orlovich
Anusha Beer MSc Haseeb Handhawa
James Boucher MSc Honours Janice Lord
Max Buxton MSc Janice Lord
Jocelyn Chua Griffith PhD Tina Summerfield
Tim Crawford PhD Tina Summerfield
Rachael Lawrence-Lodge PhD Botany David Burritt
Olivia McPherson, MSc Haseeb Randhawa
Alexandra Rozhkova MSc David Burritt
Pablo Leal Sandoval PhD Botany Catriona Hurd
Roland Taylor MSc Tina Summerfield
Samantha Walmsley-Bartlett Honours David Burritt
Cecilia Wang MSc David Orlovich

Gretchen Brownstein, PhD

brownsteinPhysiological mechanisms for guild-based assembly rules in a lawn community.

The physiological mechanisms behind plant assembly rules are unknown. We are investigating possible mechanisms in a lawn community where assembly rules have been convincingly demonstrated. To do this, I am defining the functional niches of selected species in relation to their acquisition and use of light and responses to defoliation. I am assessing leaf placement ability and sensitivity to light quality and quantity using novel photogrammetry techniques to record leaf movement and conventional morphological measures including petiole lengths, leaf area, chlorophyll a/b ratio and biomass. As mowing is a major environmental component, the temporal niche of species during the defoliation/regrowth cycle is also being investigated by examining changes in carbon: nitrogen ratio, stored carbohydrates, and above and below ground growth after clipping.

Supervisors

  • Bastow Wilson
  • David Burritt
  • Albert Chong (University of Southern Queensland)

Amadou Camara, PhD

camaraThe role of native and exotic shrubs in the restoration of southern NZ drylands

The ‘fertile islands’ and the ‘nurse plant’ effects are suggested mechanisms for plant interactions in arid and semi-arid environments worldwide. Similarly, some indigenous plants in the drylands New Zealand are postulated to have grown under woody canopy and may benefit from the restoration of the woody habitat. Amadou’s research investigates the ‘fertile islands’ and the ‘nurse plant’ effects in a dry grassland at Luggate, Central Otago. The results of the study will assist formulation of management options that could be applied to enhance the restoration of indigenous dryland mixed herbaceous and woody vegetation.

Supervisors

  • Prof. Bastow Wilson
  • Dr Peter Espie (AgScience Consultants)

Britt Cranston, PhD

Community Dynamics of Alpine Cushion Plants: A biogeographical comparison

cranstonCushion communities can occur in one of two distributions: mosaic, where cushions grow in close proximity to one another, forming a continuous mat; and discrete, where cushions grow as independent units. Both can contain multiple cushion species. Until now research has focused almost exclusively on facilitation provided by discrete communities; the role of cushion mosaics in structuring alpine communities has yet to be investigated. This is a glaring oversight as mosaics are relatively common in oceanic southern hemisphere alpine systems. The objective of this study is to determine how these distribution patterns differ and how these differences translate to ecosystem functions, driving community structure in New Zealand, the United States, and Australia.

Supervisors

  • Prof. Katharine Dickinson
  • Assoc. Prof. Peter Whigham (Information Science Department)
  • Prof. Ragan Callaway (University of Montana)
  • Dr Adrian Monks (Landcare Research)

YuanYuan Feng - PhD, 2015

Global change control on phytoplankton in New Zealand coastal and Antarctic waters.feng

Understanding how global climate change will affect our planet is obtaining more and more attention nowadays. To predict the response of marine phytoplankton to the human-induced changes in the environment, it is important to consider multiple global change factors, including ocean acification, changes of nutrient supply, temperature and irradiance. Some recent research has confirmed that these factors may alter, enhance or weaken the impacts of the individual factors in a complex way.

A major objective of my project is to experimentally examine the effects of projected future pCO2 and temperature increases, in addition with changing of irradiance, nutrients availability on different marine phytoplankton functional groups in the New Zealand coastal and Antarctic waters, including: coccolithophores, Phaeocystis sp., and diatoms. These groups have been observed to be major bloom formers and dominant in the New Zealand coastal or Antarctic waters.
This research will try to answer the following questions:

What will be the effects of ocean acidification on the physiology of these different functional groups? Will the responses be significantly different due to their different carbon concentrating mechanisms?

What will be the irradiance /nutrient availability in addition with pCO2 and temperature effects on these different phytoplankton groups?
How will the natural phytoplankton community in the New Zealand coastal waters will respond to the global change factors? How will the consequent sea water biogeochemistry change?

Supervisors

  • Dr. Catriona Hurd
  • Dr. Michael Roleda
  • Dr. Philip Boyd
  • Prof. Kath Dickinson

Konstanze Gebauer, PhD

Metapopulation dynamics of the endangeres Grand skink (Oligosoma grande)

gebauerThe threatened Grand skink (Oligosoma grande) is one of New Zealand's largest skink species only occurring at two sites in Central Otago, New Zealand. The Department of Conservation has established intensive monitoring and predator control programs to ensure the continued survival of Grand skinks within their natural geographic range. Spatially explicit population models (SEPM) can be used to model responses of populations to different management strategies incorporating presence-absence data, home range size estimates and estimates on predation risk. I will compare the metapopulation dynamics in two different habitat types: native tussock grasslands and exotic pasture grasslands.

Supervisors

  • Katharine Dickinson
  • Phil Seddon (Zoology Department)
  • Peter Whigham (Information Science Department)

Jill Hetherington, PhD

Invasive species led ecological rehabilitation

Field site: Kaitorete Spit, Canterbury

The invasion of Lupinus arboreus across a large area of the Kaitorete Spit dune system has lead to a desire to eradicate this shrub from the landscape. The establishment of L. arboreus has modified the floristic diversity, substrate structure and sediment movement, nutrient cycling and habitat of several indigenous species.
The Canterbury Conservancy is initiating a large scale aerial eradication programme, with the intention of removing this plant from the dune system and restoring its former state.

Ecological restoration (ER) projects are often the result of a desire to eradicate invasive flora. The practice of ER currently is directed by identifying the perceived end target and then determined to be achieved by a comparison of species composition to an identified reference system. ER is seen as a real time test of certain ecological theories and rules, which has lead to the development of the field of restoration ecology. The inclusion of ecological science to ER projects from the outset and as a guide throughout is a controversial topic. The reality is that like species conservation, ER is science in a hurry and without some understanding of ecological science practitioners can not make informed decisions when problems arise.

The intention of this work is to take several key concepts of ER practice and develop them to incorporate certain ecological theories and rules from the outset. The current situation at Kaitorete Spit provides an opportunity to work through these concepts and identify an approach to eradication and the eventual rehabilitation of the dune system that will exclude L. arboreus.

Supervisors

  • Prof. Bastow Wilson
  • Prof. Peter Holland (Geography)

Rocio Suarez Jimenez, PhD, 2015

The ecology of the invasive kelp Undaria pinnatifida: functioning at an ecosystem level

Introduction of exotic species are a major reason for biotic impoverishment and biodiversity loss of ecosystems worldwide, process known as “Biotic Homogenization”. In the marine environment, this process is main cause for loss in biodiversity and resource values of marine ecosystems. Invasive seaweeds play an important role in marine invasions, not only because they are in a good number but also because they are defined as “ecosystem engineers”, which means they can modify, create and maintain habitats. Consequently, the potential of invasive seaweed species to introduce significant changes on both ecosystem structure and function is expected to be great. The kelp Undaria pinnatifida (Harvey) Suringar is high profile seaweed considered one of the world’s most invasive species. In New Zealand, U. pinnatifida has been spreading since first recorded at Wellington Harbour in 1987 and populations can now be found around the coasts of both islands, including Fiordland, Stuart Island and some sub Antartic Islands.

My research aims to highlight implications of the presence of U. pinnatifida in the ecosystem structure and food web within the East Otago coast of New Zealand. In order to achieve this aim I will try to determine 1) biomass contribution of Undaria to the intertidal and subtidal zones, 2) preferences of native invertebrates to eat and live on Undaria over native seaweeds and 3) role that Undaria plays as an ecosystem engineer in the subtidal zone. Ultimately, a thorough understanding of the role that U. pinnatifida plays in invaded ecosystems might effectively contribute to the development of future management actions in these environments and also to the conservation of areas with economic, cultural and environmental importance for which the presence of Undaria can be a hazard.

Supervisors

  • Catriona Hurd
  • Glenn Hyndes (Edith Cowan University, Australia)
  • Chris Hepburn (Marine Science)

Teresa Konlechner, PhD

The marine dispersal and invasion of Ammophila arenaria (maram grass)

konlechnerMarram grass is a significant weed of coastal dunes in New Zealand. It is now the major threat to remaining dune systems of national conservation significance. Marine dispersal provides amechanism by which marram grass can invade remote dune systems. Initial findings indicate that marine dispersal is a more important process than previously recognised. Marram rhizome can remain viable after 70 days in sea water and buoyant after 175 days in seawater. The final stage of this research is to assess the probable exposure of key dune systems in New Zealand to marram grass dispersal and invasion, including dune systems in Northland and Fiordland.

Supervisors

  • David Orlovich
  • Mike Hilton (Geography Department)

Louise Kregting, PhD

kregtingAfter finishing a PhD in 2006 with Dr. Catriona Hurd in the Botany Department, Louise has worked as a postdoctoral researcher investigating the effects of different hydrodynamic regimes on sea urchin fertilization. This work was carried out at the University of New England in Maine in conjunction with the University of Hawaii (USA) and combined laboratory studies using controlled environments with diving field work.

At the beginning of 2009, Louise started her dream job at Queens University Belfast (QUB) in Northern Ireland. This work is funded by SUPERGEN marine energy consortium and Louise is a member of the work stream 10 group determining the ecological consequences of tidal and wave energy conversion. This group is examining the potential impact of energy conversion on the growth and productivity of kelp forests, namely Laminaria hyperborea and L. digitata.

Louise has several projects on the go at present, two are field based, examining how physical factors (water motion, seawater nutrients, temperature and light) influence the growth rate of the kelps. In addition, Louise is using a tank set up for growing juvenile kelps in different hydrodynamic regimes, this work is in collaboration with Dr. Chris Hepburn (Marine Science, University of Otago). Later this summer, in collaboration with engineers at QUB Louise will examine the extent to which kelp canopies actually absorb wave energy.

Louise says her research career, “has given me the opportunity to travel to awesome places, and go to a variety of conferences to present my work and meet many interesting people, it’s been a blast so far.”

Supervisors

  • Assoc. Prof. Catriona Hurd

Lars Ludwig, PhD, 2015

The reproductive ecology of Icmadophila splachnirima - a rare Australasian lichen exhibiting sexual and asexual reproduction.

The lichen Icmadophila splachnirima is restricted mainly to subalpine peat-bogs in southern New Zealand, and within those primarily to very scarce areas of exposed peat. These habitats are of primary conservational importance (amongst others on Stewart Island and the Sub-Antarctic islands) and I. splachnirima is thought to be in decline or have become locally extinct from several such areas. During a mapping project of Icmadophila splachnirima between December 2008 and March 2009 near the city of Dunedin (Swampy Summit and Silver Peaks) the surprising discovery of a formerly unknown asexual reproductive mode via marginal soralia (Ludwig 2011) gave rise to new questions regarding the reproductive ecology of this species, in particular whether individuals are capable of both modes of reproduction, what intrinsic or extrinsic factors trigger the switch from one mode to the other and whether asexual reproduction may be a factor in the persistence of small populations.

The study is of importance because of:

  • the endemism of the species to the Australasian region, with distributional focus in southern New Zealand
  • the geographical restriction to endangered peat-bog habitats
  • the rather exceptional co-occurrence of sexual and asexual propagation within one lichen species
  • a general lack of studies concerning lichen ecology in New Zealand.

Objectives of this study:

  • Determine environmental factors and conditions affecting the reproductive strategy, preferably throughout its known geographical range. Environmental factors include: moisture and light conditions, macro- and micro climate, substratum characteristics, associated cryptogams and vascular plants, age structure, …
  • Determine morphological and physiological differences between both reproductive states. For example: quantification of various anatomical thallus parameters, photosynthetic capacity, tissue macro nutrient content and tissue secondary metabolite content.
  • Establishment and observation of long term monitoring plots in field sites, both in natural and modified conditions. The monitoring will cover the whole study period, and could also exceed beyond it (in further studies). Modifications are for example artificial shading, drainage, irrigation, removal of shading plants, fertiliser application and transplants.
  • Determine the incidence of either way of propagation and their ecological relevance for population persistence, dispersal and establishment.

Christa Miller, PhD, 2015

‘An investigation into pollination assemblages at different elevations on the Remarkables mountain range, Otago’

Climate warming is a particular threat to alpine ecosystems. The high level of species endemism and the adaption to extreme conditions make alpine ecosystems very vulnerable to any climate changes as they are geographically and climatically restricted. As most pollinators are insects, temperature is critical for their lifecycle development and activity, as is the availability of nectar and pollen as food resources. It is thought that climate warming will have an effect on the phenology and distribution of not just alpine plants, but also their associated pollinators, and that this may create a mismatch in this mutualistic relationship.

The alpine area is also vulnerable to changes brought about by non- indigenous flora and fauna. The New Zealand indigenous insect biota does not include social bees or bumble bees, only primitive short tongued bees. However, these more advanced bee species have been introduced to New Zealand. Evidence from studies worldwide has been inconclusive as to whether introduced bees are affecting wild bee populations, and it may be that competition is only revealed when there are changes in environmental conditions or large increases in population numbers. The composition of pollinator assemblages could change with climate warming, and introduced insect pollinators may have a competitive effect on native insects. It is not known what impact increased distribution and abundance of introduced bees could have on other native insects such as flies, which are common alpine pollinators.

Using the Remarkables alpine area as a study site, I aim to study pollination assemblages at different elevations, using the change in temperature at different elevations to model climate warming. I will be recording differences in the phenology of both plants and insect pollinators, the composition of pollinator assemblages and investigating possible competition between introduced and native species.

Supervisors

  • Dr Janice Lord
  • Prof. Katharine Dickinson
  • Honorary Prof. Barbara Barratt (Department of Botany/AgResearch)

Victor Cubillos Monras, PhD

Photo-protection and photo-damage in intertidal organisms of the New Zealand coast

cubillosmonrasIntertidal ecosystems are characterized by periodical variations in the water column throughout tidal cycles, a situation that induces changes in the physiological balance of organisms that live there. If low tide occurs at noon, intertidal organisms are exposed to the atmosphere, a stressful situation that can coincide with high radiation (UVR) levels. Direct exposure to UVR induces DNA damage, for example pyrimidine dimmers (CPDs), that interfere with the natural processes of replication and transcription of DNA, or through indirect mechanisms where the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) results in molecular, cellular and physiological damage. However, marine organisms have developed through adaptative processes, effective defense mechanisms against the detrimental action of UVR, based on the use of secondary metabolites with sunscreen properties (preventive mechanisms) or palliative mechanisms against UV damage for example through the use of antioxidant molecules. My research aims to understand how intertidal organisms, with different phylogenetic relationship, deal with temporal and spatial changes in UVR on the Otago Peninsula and some areas of the New Zealand coast respectively, to allow them to live under periodical UVR stress. To carry out this objective, estimations of sunscreen compounds such as mycosporine like amino acids (MAAs) and phenolic compounds (PC) are contrasted with DNA damage (CPDs) and the generation of ROS using chromatographic, spectrometric, enzymatic and immunological techniques.

Supervisors

  • Dr David Burritt
  • Dr Miles Lamare (Marine Science)
  • Assoc. Prof. Barry Peake (Chemistry)

Jacqui Nielsen, PhD

An Above- and Belowground study of the chemical ecology of Thymus vulgaris in Central Otago

nielsenMy question is whether monoterpenoids produced by Thyme leach into the soil and alter the soil chemistry in favour of certain plant species that will grow alongside Thyme and not others. I am comparing North and South Facing Slopes as Thyme tends to be monocultural on North facing slopes but not South facing ones. My hypothesis is that monoterpenoids leached by Thyme into the soil either directly or indirectly promote a higher Ammonium/Nitrate ratio under Thyme than away from Thyme and this determines which species co-exist with Thyme.

Supervisors

  • Prof Katharine JM Dickinson
  • Assoc. Prof. Peter Whigham (Information Science Department)
  • Associate Professor Russell D. Frew (Department of Chemistry)
  • Professor Ragan Callaway (University of Montana)

Daniel Pritchard, PhD

The ecophysiology of Anotrichium crinitum: An assessment of the energetic requirements for growth

pritchardPrimary productivity is determined by light availability balanced against the energetic requirements for physiological processes associated with nitrogen and carbon uptake and assimilation. My research focuses on Anotrichium crinitum (Rhodophyta): a dominant component of subtidal rocky reefs below 10 m along the coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Specifically, my research focuses on the capacity of Anotrichium to take up “energetically expensive” forms of nitrogen (as nitrate) and carbon (as bicarbonate). It is hypothesised that the preferential use of less abundant, but energetically less expensive, forms of inorganic carbon (as carbon dioxide) and nitrogen (as ammonium) might support growth of Anotrichium during periods of light limitation. Light attenuation in temperate coastal waters is highly variable due to weather patterns, wave action and terrestrial runoff. These effects are magnified by anthropogenic activities such as land clearance, dredging and eutrophication. This research will help determine if Anotrichium is “living on the edge” of its capacity to grow in these important, but potentially threatened deep-water habitats.

Supervisors

  • Catriona Hurd
  • Chris Hepburn (Marine Science Department)
  • John Beardall (Monash University, Melbourne)

Graham Strong, PhD

strongAs a student in the Department of Botany, Graham investigated the ecophysiology of native mistletoes on a range of hosts. This included examining plant water relations, photosynthetic performance and heterotrophy. On completing his PhD, Graham applied the same methodologies to the problems faced by organic rice farmers in California.

As a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Davis, Graham worked on eradicating invasive weeds in commercial organic rice crops without using chemical herbicides. Graham’s research investigated the ecophysiological and morphological traits of rice and invasive weeds and the impact of manipulating the water level in the field. By understanding the different responses of rice and the invasive weeds, this research resulted in a management tool to eradicate weeds without impacting on rice yields and without using chemical herbicides.

Graham returned to New Zealand in 2003. Working for the Dunedin City Council, Graham has been supporting businesses and cluster development in agriculture, forestry and commercial fishing. He has been involved in the development and implementation of the Dunedin City Research Support Fund, this helps build stronger grant applications to external funders. This award-winning programme has helped to attract $22.4 million in grant funding for Dunedin researchers. Graham has found his ability to relate to researchers and scientists an important asset in his current role. In addition, the methodological approach to work that Graham developed as a PhD student has enabled him to build business programmes for the benefit of a range of sectors (e.g. Research and ICT).

Supervisors

  • Prof. Peter Bannister

Ed Waite, PhD

The role of isolated trees in supporting urban bird communities

Ed_up_tree_smallMy research is focused on the resources isolated trees offer birds and invertebrates in the urban environment. This is being examined on both a local and landscape scale. On the local scale, resources such as food availability are being assessed, while at the landscape scale the role of isolated trees as stepping stones for dispersal is being studied with the aid of GIS tools.

View Ed's blog, Southern Bird Geek, at Blogspot.

Supervisors

  • Kath Dickinson
  • Yolanda Van Heezik (Zoology)
  • Gerry Closs (Zoology)

Cory Anderson, MSc

Effects of UV radiation on antioxidant systems in lettuce

andersonLeafy green vegetables are an important food source, valued for their high
antioxidant content. I am investigating how an environmental stressor (UV
radiation) affects the antioxidant content of lettuces. Tunnel houses, a
production environment that commonly blocks UV light have been shown to
reduce the content of beneficial phenolics in lettuce, and it is possible
that other antioxidants and polyamine levels are also affected. The effect
of various UV light regimes on antioxidant systems and polyamine levels will
be the subject of my experiments.

Supervisor

  • David Burritt

Max Crowe, MSc

Influence of arbsucular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) on Hieracium lepidulum.

croweAMF are widespread symbiotic soil fungi which form intimate associations with plant roots. Many plants have been shown to gain significant competitive advantages as a result of AMF colonisation. My research includes the culture and detection of AMF, and investigating AMF roles on aspects of the growth of the invasive plant H. lepidulum.

Supervisors

  • David Orlovich
  • Kath Dickinson

Diego Urrutia Guevara, MSc

Effects of different snow accumulations on the alpine plant communities and soil composition of the Old Man Range

guevaraI studied the responses of New Zealand alpine plant communities and soil composition to changes in snow cover in the Old Man Range. In 1959, a snow fence was built on the windward side of these mountains, causing a larger accumulation of snow than its surrounding areas. As a consequence, the snow fence has induced changes in the vegetation on its leeward side, and it is expected that soil composition may have been altered. As a model of how is the natural soil and plant composition of the area, I studied two nearby natural snow banks that share a similar aspect, altitude and weather conditions. In addition to this, three vegetation surveys were done around this snow fence in 1991, 2002 and 2003. The vegetation survey in 2011 will let me study how the vegetation has changed over the last 20 years.

Supervisor

  • Prof Katharine JM Dickinson
  • Dr Adrian Monks (Landcare Research)

Rebecca James, MSc

The effects of ocean acidification on macroalgal communities

My project is aimed to examine how algal communities may be affected by ocean acidification. I will survey the community composition of algal communities around Otago, and by manipulating the pH of lab-based communities and looking at the basic carbon physiology of some algal species, I will investigate how different algal communities may respond to ocean acidification.

Supervisors

  • Catriona Hurd
  • Keith Hunter (Chemistry)
  • Chris Hepburn (Marine Science)

Rebecca Lawrence, MSc

lawrenceRebecca Lawrence completed her final year of high school in Denmark on exchange. Before she went she had been undecided about what to study at university, but while she was away Rebecca realised that she really missed the outdoors of New Zealand, and was really interested in finding out more about the natural environment. So when she came back to New Zealand she decided to study ecology at the University of Otago. She completed a BSc in Ecology with a minor in Statistics in 2007, and went on to do a Master’s of Science (Ecology), graduating in 2011.

“ I started work for Golder Associates, a Ground Engineering and Environmental Services company, as their Ecological Technician in January 2011. My job involves lots of field work, collecting and entering data and helping to write reports for clients. Usually Golders works for clients to enable them to meet their Resource Consent conditions. We look at freshwater rivers and streams, sometimes we’ll be doing vegetation surveys or tracking NZ falcons, or even sampling from closed landfill sites – it’s really varied!”

Rebecca really loved her Ecology studies, and says the range of possibilities is huge. Students can choose between a Zoology or Botany emphasis, or lean into Geography, or Marine Science – the statistics is really important as well, across all of those options.
“ We were always learning new things about animals and plants, and how they interact with each other and with us … we learned about the big processes in nature, and how particular species fit into that bigger picture. “

Rebecca says the fieldwork she did for her Masters was the best preparation for her current job – giving her experience with planning and organising field work, including the logistics of getting places and making sure she had everything she needed for the job, and also undertaking her own independent research whilst also working as part of a team.

“Just being capable of doing the work by yourself, being comfortable on your own in remote locations – it was the best training I could have for what I do now.”

And the final word?

“I think, if anyone asked me for advice, I’d say follow your passion! Take the time to consider what you really want to do, then do it. I loved what I studied at University and I love my job… if you study something you’re really keen on, you will most likely end up with a job you really enjoy, it makes sense!“

Supervisors

  • Prof. Kath Dickinson
  • Dr. Deb Wilson (Landcare Research)
  • Dr. Roger Pech (Landcare Research)

Vicky McGimpsey, MSc

Breeding systems and genetics of Euphrasia dyeri

mcgimpseyEuphrasia dyeri is a hemi-parasitic, alpine plant that has white and purple flowers on the same plant, the reason for this is currently unknown. It could be a stress response, or a response to a pollinator, but it is most likely related to age. From my work last year purple Euphrasia dyeri flowers have stigma and anthers that touch, showing that the breeding system is either autogamous, xenogamous, or both, and if so do they still produce nectar. The main study population is on the Blue Mountains Eastern Otago, but Euphrasia dyeri can be found on other mountains. This created even more questions; about the populations genetics with geographical barriers between populations, and the possibility of new sub-species appearing. This research is only at the preliminary stages, but I hope to solve the mystery about why they have purple and white flowers.

Supervisor

  • Dr Janice Lord

Olivia Sawrey, MSc

Does environment affect Wahlenbergia albomarginata reproductive success and petal colour?

sawreyMy project focuses on Wahlenbergia albomarginata, an alpine New Zealand native bell flower. I have two main interests. 1) Flower colour can range blue to white. I am testing whether some environmental factors determine flower colour. I am looking at aspect, temperature, soil nitrogen content and altitude in relation to flower colour, which is quantified using a spectrometer. 2) Do the flowers and insects near W. albomarginata affect its reproductive efficiency? Insects that specialise their visits to one flower species are efficient pollinators whereas insects that visit a number of plant species are less efficient as they are likely to deliver the wrong pollen type to a stigma. I intend to relate seeds per pod and pollen load per stigma to nearby plant species composition. This project will show whether competition for pollinators affects W. albomarginata reproduction.

Supervisor

  • Dr Janice Lord