Biological Sciences researcher receives award for world-leading pest management research

Associate Professor Wayne Linklater, from Victoria University’s School of Biological Sciences, has been awarded the 2018 Peter Nelson Memorial Trophy by New Zealand’s Biosecurity Institute in recognition of his research in pest management.

Wayne Linklater with NZBI award July 2018.

Peter Nelson, for whom the award is named, is considered by many to be the founder of modern pest management in New Zealand. He advocated for Integrated Pest Management (IPM), a system which aims to reduce pest damage and pest populations to tolerable levels, and is used widely in horticulture and agriculture.

The award has a special connection for Associate Professor Linklater. He says he was inspired by Peter Nelson to refocus his research in 2005.

“Peter’s careful, incremental, pragmatic and evidence-based approach to pest management is an approach I strongly identify with, and consistent with my science training.”

Associate Professor Linklater and his team have produced the world’s first long-life synthetic lure for rats.

“This research makes it possible to identify lures in the chemical profile of any pest mammal by using the animal’s response to complex odours.

“This approach represents a transformational leap forward in pest control technology. Until now food products have been the only lures used for pest mammals. These new lures are extremely long lasting, up to months at a time, are inexpensive, easy and safe to transport and apply.

“We are in partnership with ISCA Tech Limited in Los Angeles to produce these lures as commercial product. We have begun field trials in partnership with the Department of Conservation and the project is supported by funding from the Predator Free 2050—Tools to Market program.”

In addition to their success identifying and developing these new lures, Associate Professor Linklater’s research team has also helped advance knowledge about pests through collaborative research with the Centre for Proteome Research at the University of Liverpool, UK. “Together, we have discovered that male brushtail possums release proteins in their urine that appear to be sexual signals and could also be developed as social lures”.

Associate Professor Linklater is the first researcher from Victoria University to receive this trophy, and one of only three Wellington residents to receive it (alongside Deidrik Meenken in 2007 and Graham Nugent in 2017). He was nominated by Charlie Eason, CEO of the Cawthron Institute, with support from colleagues from Ministry for Primary Industries, Massey University and Victoria University.