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News and Events - 2011

  • Seminars in 2011
  • News in 2011

Seminars in 2011

December 2011

Invasive Species in Natural Ecosystems

Dr Margaret Stanley, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland.

Wednesday 21st December, 12 Noon.
Union St Lecture Theatre, Cnr Union St West & Great King St

All welcome!

November 2011

Ecosystems in waiting or a bright new future?

Dr John Ogden.

Wednesday 9 November 2011 12 noon
Student Learning Centre Seminar Room GW3, Information Services Building access via Cumberland or Albany Sts

Mixed plant and animal communities are now widely established in New Zealand. Will the forests of yesteryear eventually re-establish, or should we welcome a new species mixture dictated by a new disturbance regime? Work on the dynamics of the scrub communities on Great Barrier Island will be discussed.
Mountain earthquakes and their ecological effects: the case of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.

Prof Qian Wang, Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Wednesday 16 November 12 noon
Union St Lecture Theatre, Cnr Union St West & Great King St

October 2011

Differential Susceptibility to Ocean Acidification.

Associate Professor Catriona Hurd, Department of Botany, University of Otago

Tuesday 4 October 2011 4pm
Marine Science Seminar room

My Place in the World: An Update on the Electron Microscopy Facilities at the University of Otago.

Allan Mitchell, Technical Manager, Otago Centre for Microscopy

Wednesday 5 October 2011 12 noon
Union St Lecture Theatre, Cnr Union St West & Great King St

Orokonui Landmark Lecture - The Meaning of Eco: Science or Brand?

Professor Kath Dickinson, Department of Botany, University of Otago

Wednesday 12 October 2011 7.30pm
St David’s Lecture Theatre

MSc proposals:

Aiko Lignon: MSc Plant Biotech proposal- genetic variation in Alfalfa mosaic virus
Max Corral: MSc Botany proposal- Can we use virus infection to manipulate secondary metabolites in economically important plants?

Wednesday 19 October 2011 12 noon
Phys Ed Seminar Room #213-4, 55 Union St

September 2011

Friendly Forest Fungi: mycorrhizae of NZ native forest trees

Wednesday 21th September 2011,12:00 PM - 12:50 PM
Union St Lecture Theatre

A talk by Dr David Orlovich in celebration of International Year of Forests 2011. I will discuss the importance of fungus-root symbioses in NZ forests and describe recent research on native mycorrhizal fungi. A Department of Botany Lunchtime Seminar. Note: Special time and Venue: Union St Lecture Theatre, Cnr Union St West & Great King St. Venue is subject to change, so please check back here for an update closer to the day.

10th Annual Geoff Baylis Lecture: Complex relationships with friends and foes: How native plants manage the risks

Wednesday 14th September 2011, 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM
Castle 1 Lecture theatre

Speaker Dr Bill Lee Landcare Research, Dunedin; Joint Graduate School of Biodiversity and Biosecurity, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland.

Plants share a world with many other organisms that represent both potential enemies and possible allies. For their enemies plants are a food source, but plants have developed numerous defences, including co-opting other animals, to protect vital organs. This involves strategic alliances, armed neutrality and active warfare. Plants also develop interdependencies with other biota for obtaining resources, assisting reproduction and dispersal, and limiting herbivory. The talk will explore what we know about these interactions in New Zealand, and discuss some of the extraordinary relationships amongst and between fungi, arthropods, birds, and plants. Emphasis will be on the strategies and tactics involved from the perspective of the plants, and how much plants are prepared to repel enemies and gain friends in natural ecosystems.

News in 2011

Landmark Lecture - The Meaning of 'Eco' Science or Brand?

Professor Kath Dickinson

Wednesday 12th of October, 7:30 pm.
St David Street Lecture Theatre.

2011 Botany postgraduate student colloquium a big success!

Thanks to colloquium organisers Chris Cornwall, Kathryn Lister, Lars Ludwig and Rocio Suarez-Jimenenz.

This year's botany colloquium was a great success showcasing the wide variety of research being conducted in the department, ranging from marine to terrestrial to aerial! Three students won prizes for outstanding presentations; Jaz Morris (4th year) for his work on the effects of greenhouse conditions on the physiology of giant kelp, Diego Urrutia Guevara (MSc) for his work on alpine plant and soil composition in the Old Man Range and Tim Crawford (PhD) for his research into the low-oxygen electron transport in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803.

Guest speaker Professor Robert Poulin from Otago's own Department of Zoology impressed everyone with his witty and informative presentation on "Getting your research published." His advice was beneficial to staff and students alike and we very much appreciated Robert's time and enthusiasm.

Academic staff also contributed by competing in our inaugural 3-minute research competition in which Janice Lord took out the overall winner for her smooth moves and presentation titled "sex, bugs and rock'n'roll."

Thanks go to all the presenters, the Department of Botany for funding, the Botanical Society of Otago for putting up the student awards.

Peter Raven, the John Smaillie Tennant Lecture

John Smaillie Tennant Lecture. Thursday 21 July 2011 at 6.00 pm, St David Lecture Thearter.

How many species will survive the 21st century?

Peter H. Raven, President Emeritus, Missouri Botanical Garden

More on Peter's talk.
Ecology 111 Prize Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the first year Botany prize for their excellence in ECOL111.

Students Simon Sheppard, Marcus Richards and Kiersten Fletcher-Zirke received their awards from Dr David Orlovich at the first BIOL113 lecture.

NZMSS conference 2011

Thanks to Marine Science for organising the NZMSS conference 2011. The location was great – Rakiura - Stewart Island, the weather appropriate for an indoor event and the food was amazing!

The Botany Department was well represented by four students, two post-docs & an assistant practice fellow. Our work contributed to 3 different conference sessions:

  • Marine Ecology
  • Ocean Acidification
  • Customary Management

The students did a great job presenting their work and answering challenging questions. Talks by Chris Cornwall, Rebecca James, Derek Richards and Katja Schweikert, can be viewed as pdfs.

Plants @ Otago

The Plants @ Otago workshop hosted by the Department of Botany was attended by 48 scientists and students from the University of Otago and associated research entities. 21 scientists from 11 departments showcased their plant related research. We saw a vast range of work presented from the fields of ecology, cultural involvement, applied physiology, plant genetics and protein analysis to name but a few.

This inaugural workshop was a great networking opportunity and a successful event for the new research cluster. In an open discussion participants decided to hold a “PLANTS @ OTAGO” workshop once a year and to further expand the networking nationally and internationally. For a continuous presence of the research cluster, involved departments will host at least one of their departmental seminars throughout the year under the category of PLANTS @ OTAGO.

The programme, a summary of the presentations and a list of participants, including contact emails, will shortly be available in pdf format.

Thanks to all participants for their support, to the student helpers on the day and the Department of Botany for funding and hosting the event.

Plants @ Otago - Departmental Workshop, 8th June 2011

Are you interested in Plants or research related to Plants? Plants @ Otago is a workshop intended to foster relationships with other researchers at the University of Otago who also have an interest in Plants.

Who was keeping it hot down South?

We were looking for pollinators, measuring thermal properties of mega herbs, and working on deciphering the pollination biology of various species.

Field work conditions included battling high winds to stay on the track, lying in the sun observing pollinator activity, avoiding sealions on the way to study sites and even a few snow flurries to keep us not just on our toes but making snow angels.

Initial results from the trip are looking exciting, with many new interactions being discovered, and thermal images showing off just how hot these megaherbs can get, even in less than desirable weather conditions!


Lynne Huggins, Janice Lord and Vickey Tomlinson hunting for pollinators along boardwalk below Beeman Hill.


Lynne Huggins, Vickey Tomlinson and Janice Lord about to count sex ratios of Anisotome latifolia, a megaherb, along Col Lyall.


Hiding in the herbs – Vickey Tomlinson, Janice Lord and Lynne Huggins

Congratulations to Aimee Pritchard

Aimee won the Tom Moss Award for best student contribution at the recent 25th John Child Bryophyte & Lichen Workshop held at Riverton from the 4th to the 9th of December.

Congratulations to Sir Alan Mark for his Charles Fleming Award for Environmental Achievement from the Royal Society!

markThe 2010 Charles Fleming Award for Environmental Achievement has been awarded to Emeritus Professor Sir Alan Francis Mark FRSNZ, Emeritus Professor of Botany.

Welcome to Dr Ralf Rautenberger

ralf_rautenbergerRalf will be working with Catriona Hurd and David Burritt, examining the interactive effects of solar UV-B-radiation and nitrogen assimilation on formation and detoxification of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in Ulva sp.