Dr. Steve Wratten
Professor of Ecology, Lincoln University
Steve Wratten is Professor of Ecology at Lincoln University as well as being on the staff of the Bio-Protection Research Centre. He has studied and worked in the Universities of Reading, Glasgow, London, Cambridge and Southampton in the UK. He holds three doctorates and four professorships and is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. He is the top global researcher on biological control of pests, based on citation rates.
His research largely concerns the understanding and enhancement of nature’s services (ecosystem services – ES) on farmland. He is the world leader in biological control of pests and is currently working on using ecological techniques to reduce the decline in populations of pollinators. Pollination is an ES. One of the clear outcomes that his research has delivered is the Greening Waipara programme (http://bioprotection.org.nz/greening-waipara). This involves adding flowering native and non-native plants to vineyards to improve the efficacy of pest biological control agents. His work in the MBNZT involve helping the schools and gardeners to enhance butterfly populations on their land. Butterflies also have ES value, that is their aesthetic qualities. His current research includes a strong emphasis on understanding and enhancing ecosystem services in farmland. This includes work on a giant hybrid grass called miscanthus. This can be used for production of renewable liquid fuels, but unlike other biofuel feedstocks, it delivers at least 16 ecosystem services within the farm and, beyond it, to society as a whole.
Steve’s services are often called upon by international groups to run workshops and to help growers and their advisors with implementation of ideas and practices to reduce inputs in agriculture. In practice, this involves their understanding the power of ecosystem (nature’s services) such as soil formation and improvement, biological control of pests, pollination etc. For example, in recent years he has been invited by:
- NZ Winegrowers to give workshops in all NZ wine regions
- Organic Crop Protectants, NSW (Gary Leeson) to give workshops in all main Australian vineyard regions
- SurFrut, Chile to give invited workshops to grower groups in north and south Chile
- Wageningen University, Holland to take part in a one-week intensive workshop on biodiversity, with international colleagues
- Oregon Winegrowers to give a plenary presentation on the value of biodiversity in vineyards
- Washington State University to run workshops and seminars on biodiversity and its functions
- University of Arkensas to run workshops on biodiversity to students and staff
- Taiwan Government to advise scientists and policy makers on how to imbue government policy with practical ecosystem-service protocols
- Plumpton College, Sussex, UK to run all-day workshops at two locations in southern England on the advantages of enhanced biodiversity in wine-grape production. This included champaigne-grape growers from the counties of Sussex, Hampshire, Somerset etc.
- Mackay, Australia – sugar cane research advice.
- Invited participant in a SESSYNC workshop in Annapolis, USA on agroecology, run by the Universities of Harvard and California
Among many others.