Our Pacific Biosecurity initiative began in 2013. We saw an increasing need for biosecurity and invasive species control in the Pacific, particularly in regards to invasive ants.
We are a not-for-profit consultancy within Wellington UniVentures at Victoria University of Wellington-Te Herenga Waka in New Zealand. We collaborate with regional organizations and in-country partners to enhance resilience and well-being through plant pest/invasive species management throughout the Pacific. Our primary focus is on biosecurity – preventing the arrival, establishment and spread of invasive species.
Our focus initially was on invasive ants. 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 ants 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.
Invasive ants harm health (repeated, very unpleasant stings which can become infected), agriculture (plant health declines due to ‘farming’ of insects such as scale and mealybugs, inability of people to work crops due to repeated stings and blinding of domestic animals), and biodiversity (killing of native wildlife).
Pacific Biosecurity staff have been working on the research and management of invasive ants in the Pacific for more than 15 years.
Since 2013 we have assisted with invasive species capability building and ant management in many countries including Samoa, Kiribati, Tuvalu, French Polynesia, Palau, the Marshall Islands, Tonga, Niue, and Tokelau. We have also developed standard tools and protocols for use throughout the region.
Pacific Biosecurity is a member of the Pacific Regional Invasive Species Management Support Service (PRISMSS) and we lead the Protect our Islands programme, supported by colleagues at SPC.
Pacific Biosecurity is based Wellington UniVentures 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 invasive ant impacts.