Current Research Projects

Below are the current research projects being funded by Predator Free 2050 Limited.


Eradicating the Last 1% (Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research)

Manaaki WhenuaWith MBIE Endeavour Programme funding, this co-funded project aims to understand if there are individual behaviours (‘personalities’) that make predators surviving current control approaches ‘resistant’ to such methods, and to use that knowledge to develop new lures that increase their interactions with control devices. Manaaki Whenua is working collaboratively with iwi and hapū to co-develop approaches that are culturally acceptable to tangata whenua, drawing on traditional and current pest control mātauranga Māori.


Carbon Accounting (Island Conservation)

Clare NZCo-funded by Clare (www.clare.nz), this project aims to measure how much better our natural environment soaks up carbon without the ecosystem damage from pest animals. The teams’ retrospective analysis of almost 800 islands worldwide where pest eradication has already been carried out, combines artificial intelligence and remote sensing of vegetation to quantify the carbon gains from restoration. If the research is successful, it may be possible to calculate the carbon gains from Predator Free 2050.


Enabling Possum Fertility Control (University of Otago)

Possum 100With MBIE Endeavour Smart Ideas funding, this co-funded project aims to show that gene editing, and other forms of genetic manipulation, are possible in brushtail possums. These techniques have already been developed for other mammals but applying them to marsupials is challenging due to their unique biology. Being able to use these techniques for possums would enable research on new control approaches. Hui with both local community groups and mana whenua are offering early guidance on what any next steps should be.


Tactical Genetic Control of Rats (Genomics Aotearoa)

Geonomics AotearoaA multi-agency team coordinated by the Genomics Aotearoa collaborative research platform is investigating whether recent overseas advances in producing mice of only one sex can be adapted for rat eradication. Technical development in laboratory containment is being supported by targeted population genomics to better understand New Zealand rat populations, and sociological assessment of attitudes to genetic technologies, with particular emphasis on understanding relevant mātauranga Māori.


Can We Turn Stoat Breeding Off? (Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research)

Andrew VealWith Royal Society of New Zealand Te Apārangi Marsden funding, this co-funded project is exploring the recently constructed stoat genome to better understand their breeding genetics, and how these could be used for control. Stoats are a challenging predator to eradicate due to their fear of anything new, low population densities, high reproductive rates, and ability to range over large distances. Research findings may enable future development of stoat-specific fertility control, with potential also for weasels and ferrets.


Sterilisation of Pests for Conservation (University of Otago)

Otago SterilisationWith MBIE Endeavour Smart Ideas funding, this co-funded project aims to develop a new oral bait application for the permanent chemical sterilisation of mammalian pests, to control populations without toxins or impact on native species. The team is developing the approach for rats, possums, and potentially mustelids, while PF2050 Ltd support allows testing to confirm that ‘non-target’ species such as native birds are not affected by the new active compounds developed.


Predator Monitoring using eDNA (University of Otago)

EDNAWith MBIE Endeavour Smart Ideas funding, this co-funded project aims to test and develop the detection of mammalian pest DNA in water as a new cost-effective, sensitive, and reliable approach for surveying their populations. PF2050 Ltd support increases sampling to better assess the performance of eDNA surveillance at landscape scale in the field and contributes to the development of tools and protocols for in-the-field eDNA testing and a database for predator surveillance eDNA.


Detecting the Last Predator (Science for Technological Innovation National Science Challenge).

SFTIWith MBIE National Science Challenge funding, this co-funded project aims to develop a dynamic, learning network of mobile rechargeable robotic and sensor modules to detect ‘the last predator’ in challenging forest environments. A team of researchers from across five different organisations, coordinated by the Science for Technological Innovation (SfTI) Challenge, brings together knowledge and skills in design, machine learning, robotics, network engineering and sensor development with mammalian predator expertise.


Embedded R&D (Zero Invasive Predators)

ZIPCarried out by Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP), this project is integrating cutting edge tools and technologies that are becoming available now, such as thermal cameras with onboard A.I. ‘image recognition’ and ‘swarm satellite’ communications, to scale predator elimination up to 40,000 ha. Building on previous successful possum and stoat elimination across 12,000 ha of Perth River valley backcountry, using their ‘1080 to Zero’ predator elimination approach, ZIP is demonstrating that predator elimination can be achieved across large landscapes.