EcoTas13 by Yvonne Buckley & Stephen Bonser

EcoTas13 – Auckland 24 – 29 November 

Going to EcoTas13 this year will be bitter-sweet for me, I am shortly to move from a land of abundant snakes to one where St. Patrick drastically reduced the herpetofaunal richness with one wave of his magic staff. So I’m going to make the most of this awesome concentration of Australasian ecology and overdose on invasions, fire, Antarctic ecology and of course moas, dingoes, devils and ‘roos.

I’m speaking in a symposium on “Invasive species in a changing world” which will provide a wide range of views on the interplay between invasions and other elements of global change. It’s a bit early in the day for drinking games but if you want to play buzz word bingo look out for: novel ecosystems, prioritization and references to the recent “origins don’t matter” (see  & debate, which one of the plenaries, Chris Thomas, weighed into most recently with his opinion piece in Nature. I’ll be speaking on how we can use methods, data and case-studies in invasion science to inform assisted migration strategies as a response to climate change. Michaela Plein and I  are working on extending some of the ideas in a recent article by Paul Caplat, myself & colleagues.

My pick of the plenaries includes: Jason Tylianakis on global change and ecosystem functioning, Richard Duncan on understanding the past and David Keith on ecosystem collapse. David is this year’s deserving AERA award winner and usually sports a retro fluoro-on-black slide colour scheme, always a highlight.

I love speed talks and will randomly wander into sessions to pick up tidbits I can use in teaching and/or that will spark some new ideas and connections, if you’d like a bit more direction I’d recommend Tingley (failures in monitoring & adaptive management), Hauser (kangaroo-vegetation dynamics), Schroeder (dingoes, cats & foxes), Iwasaki (varroa invasion in Australasia) and O’Loughlin (giant African landsnails on Christmas island) for a taxonomically diverse taster plate.

I’ll also be running around judging student talks, catching up with friends, sampling some excellent NZ beer and wine and even doing a day’s worth of population dynamics modeling with one of my NZ collaborators.

Finally, well done to Corkery for the most provocative talk title “A hot bird is a desirable burrow-mate”.

Yvonne Buckley – University of Queensland, Australia & Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
Associate Editor, Journal of Ecology


I will be talking about some of my recent research on how plants evolve under competition.  There is a long standing intellectual link between strategy theory and life history theory in ecology.  For example, short-lived semelparous (weedy) species are frequently found in highly disturbed habitats.  These observations have been formalised in r/K selection theory.  r-selected species are predicted to evolve in density independent conditions where competition is low.  However, short-lived “r” species very frequently grow in high density habitats and experience intense competition, and the predictions of r/K selection are quite flawed.  In my research, I demonstrate that responses to competition in both short-lived semelparous species and long-lived iteroparous species are not consistent with predictions of r/K selection.  Life history theory provides a better predictive framework of understanding plant strategies under competition.

The conferences where the ecological societies of New Zealand and Australia meet together are good fun, and many of the sessions look good.  I am particularly looking forward to the sessions on Functional Community Ecology, and Invasive species.  Both sessions have a mix of established big-name ecologists, and young ecologists with new ideas.

Stephen Bonser – University of New South Wales, Australia
Associate Editor, Journal of Ecology

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