Our Pacific Biosecurity initiative began in 2013. We saw an increasing need for improvements in invasive species prevention and management in the Pacific, particularly in regards to invasive ants.
We are a not-for-profit team within Wellington UniVentures at Victoria University of Wellington-Te Herenga Waka in New Zealand. Our goal is to collaborate with regional organizations and in-country partners to enhance people's environmental well-being and conservation and pest / invasive species management throughout the Pacific.
Our focus is primarily on invasive and pest insects. Invasive ants are a key group. They have a history of establishing on Pacific Islands and reaching high abundance that causes dramatic changes to island biodiversity and the Pacific way of life. The threats to Pacific countries from invasive insects are increasing and likely to keep increasing over the next decades as these species spread.
We are most concerned about spread of the little fire ant (also known as the electric ant) across the Pacific, and the potential for red imported fire ant to establish in Pacific Island Countries and Territories.
In some cases the effects of little fire ants are extreme. People in French Polynesia have been forced to abandon their land. Invasive species practitioners agree that without effective biosecurity and increased capacity to deal with this species it is only a matter of time before the ant reaches a Pacific-wide distribution.
Pacific Biosecurity staff have been working on the research and management of invasive ants in the Pacific for over a decade, including participation in the Pacific Ant Management Plan (2006). Pacific Biosecurity is a member of the Pacific Invasives Partnership (PIP). We have assisted with biosecurity capacity building and pest control in several countries including Samoa, Kiribati, Tuvalu, French Polynesia and Tokelau.
Pacific Biosecurity is based in the School of Biological Sciences at Victoria University of Wellington-Te Herenga Waka. Our associated research outputs include collaborative peer-reviewed articles in international publications on invasive species ecology and pesticides for invasive ant control. We currently have research programmes on potential bio-control agents for invasive ants and wasps.