Prof. Margaret Stanley

Margaret leads the research group. She is an ecologist (biosecurity and conservation) in the School of Biological Sciences at University of Auckland. After gaining her PhD from Monash University, Margaret worked as a postdoc at Landcare Research, and latterly as a scientist and programme leader. She moved to the University of Auckland in 2007 as a new mum, to develop a new MSc programme in Biosecurity and Conservation.

Margaret’s interests in ecology are diverse, but her research primarily seeks to understand and mitigate human impacts (e.g. urbanisation, invasive species) on terrestrial biodiversity and ecosystems (particularly via disruption of community level interactions, e.g. plant-animal mutualisms).  She is also interested in how conservation can benefit from increasing the connection between people and nature. Although most of her research has applied outcomes, she also undertakes research on the co-evolutionary aspects of plant-animal interactions.

Diana Borse (PhD Candidate)

Diana is a PhD candidate studying the impacts of multiple weeds as a part of a larger Bioprotection Aotearoa CoRE project focusing on mānuka/kānuka ecosystems. Her honors thesis dealt with the rapid spread of Phragmites australis and Typha angustifolia in an abandoned limestone quarry. Her research interests are in invasive species, plant-plant interactions, and weed management.


Olivia Rooke-Devoy (PhD candidate, main supervisor Assoc. Prof. Bruce Burns)

Olivia is a PhD candidate studying urban lawns in Auckland. Building on previous research she conducted for her BSc(Hons) project, Olivia intends to investigate the social and ecological characteristics of lawns in Auckland. Using this knowledge, she will also explore new ways to plan, design and manage lawns, in an effort to promote lawn ecosystem services and functioning. Olivia’s broader research interests encompass applied ecology and conservation, especially from an interdisciplinary perspective.


Pei Man (PhD Candidate, main supervisor Dr Leilani Walker, AUT)

Pei is studying ecological restoration in Auckland. During his Master’s research, he focused on the impact of urbanisation on the distribution and diversity of soil arthropods in urban and surrounding areas. In his Ph.D. project, he is placing more emphasis on the effects of vegetation restoration on key ecological processes in the ecosystem and the functional composition of arthropod communities within the environment.



Kamya Patel (PhD candidate, main supervisor Dr Kristal Cain)


Kamya is interested in studying the impacts of anthropogenic activity on animals through their behaviour, and how this may inform conservation. She is currently a PhD student studying the impacts of sleep disturbance on birds, particularly how sleep disturbance affects vocal learning, mating and parental quality. Kamya has previously worked with seabirds to look at how their sensory ecology may be linked to plastic ingestion.



Ella Speers (MSc candidate)

I’m very interested in the relationship between biodiversity and climate change. I have a particular interest in how our native species may be impacted by introduced species as invasions become more prevalent. I’m super excited that my thesis is going to look at the invasive Darwin’s ant and I hope that the results of my work can advance our understanding of how to manage them, for the benefit of our native ant species, and wider ecosystems.



Georgia Mae Pringle (MSc candidate)

Georgia is beginning her Masters this year and is keen to improve and innovate the way we monitor and manage introduced predators in Aotearoa, with a focus on feral cats. She is excited to tackle an issue that can be contentious and find ways to better communicate the importance of this work to communities while improving the way in which we do it. Her research currently plans to look at different lures and how they may improve monitoring, detection and trapping of feral cats in a New Zealand landscape.