Current Research Projects
Below are the current research projects being funded by Predator Free 2050 Limited.
Mammal Management and Carbon (Zero Invasive Predators)
Zero Invasive Predators is assessing whether invasive mammal management leads to additional carbon storage in native forests and if so, how much. This initial technical feasibility study will compare carbon storage at two paired sites which have different mammal management histories. Cutting-edge equipment will be used to measure changes in the CO2 concentrations of air as it flows across the forests, alongside more conventional measurement approaches.
FAST-Drive Rodent Control (University of Adelaide)
University of Adelaide are world-leaders in new genetic pest control approaches, being the only agency to date to achieve proof-of-concept for mouse genetic biocontrol. Still working in mice, the team will recreate their mechanism (which depends on mouse-specific elements) using elements that might also work in rats. If successful, this research could eventually lead to step-change advances in our ability to eradicate rats at landscape scale though means both non-toxic and more humane (fertility control).
Species-Selective Toxin Delivery (Envico)
Envico Technologies Limited have hypothesised a novel approach for the effective aerial delivery of species-selective toxins to predators. The team will conduct preliminary research to achieve ‘proof of concept’ for their approach, before subsequently moving into development of a usable product. If successful, this work would contribute towards reducing our reliance on aerial broad-spectrum toxin applications, for which there are some concerns about non-target impacts.
Conservation Activity Management System (EcoNet)
EcoNet is a Charitable Trust which exists to support Aotearoa-New Zealand’s conservation groups and people with a collaborative and integrated Software service aimed at maximising environmental impact and minimising administrative overhead. The Conservation Actvity Management System (CAMS) integrates CRM and GIS capabilities to support conservation activities with a focus on accountability, participant engagement, and collaboration across New Zealand. This co-funded project will support EcoNet on the integration of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Click Dimentions (for mass emailing capabilities), ArcGIS Online Hub Premium and existing predator control apps.
Enabling Possum Fertility Control (University of Otago)
With 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)
A 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)
With 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)
With 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)
With 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).
With 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)
Carried 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.