Staff Profile

Dr Olivier Ball

Dr Olivier Ball

Senior Tutor

BSc (Hons.), D.Phil

Phone: (09) 470 3830   

Email: oball@northtec.ac.nz

My interest in conservation was sparked when, as a child growing up in London, I found out that I was never going to be able to see such wonderful creatures as moa, huia and dodo, as every last one had been exterminated by humans, either directly or indirectly. After leaving school in England, I followed the zoological pathway, completing a BSc Hons at the University of Canterbury (Christchurch), majoring in ecology and invertebrate physiology (ionic and acid-base balance in West Coast pakihi streams). My PhD studies at Waikato University focused on biological control of pastoral insect pests using endophytic fungi of grasses. After post-doctoral studies on endophytic fungi at the University of Tennessee, and several years as a research scientist with AgResearch at Ruakura and Grasslands, I was able to rekindle my passion for plants, animals and their conservation when I took up the post of tutor here in the Conservation and Environmental Management Programme at NorthTec.

Research Interests 

In the past, my research was focused on insect pests of agricultural systems. Recently, the focus of my research has changed to how insect communities in the Far North (Aupouri Peninsula and Te Paki) have responded to various forms of land use.  I am particularly interested in how beetles that are usually found native forests have coped with the effects of fragmentation, pine forestry and the spread of manuka-dominated shrublands as a result of disturbance.  The status and possible fate of threatened species of invertebrates is a very important aspect of this research, as is the identification and cataloguing of undescribed or previously unseen species.  Te Paki Ecological District is revealing itself as a hotspot for arthropod endemism. On the one hand this is not surprising given the area’s status as a hotspot for other groups. On the other hand, it is remarkable that such endemism still exists given the level of disturbance that this part of the world has endured. 

Current Projects

I am currently working on four main projects. 

Mecodema Te Paki

1. Conservation status of Mecodema “Te Paki”: Mecodema is a genus of large predatory ground beetle in New Zealand.  The species living in Te Paki is endemic to the area and has yet to be formally described. Only 9 individuals had ever been seen prior to our study (with DOC). Since the start of the study in 2006, 41 further individuals have been recorded from five sub-population centres, all in native forest. Much has been learnt about the habitat requirements of the species and its conservation status.  This will hopefully make its management easier. 

Porrhothele sp. from Te Paki
2. Soil/leaf litter Invertebrate communities of the Te Paki
Ecological District: Pitfall trapping is being conducted in a variety of habitats across the Te Paki Ecological District to examine soil invertebrate communities.  Of particular interest are aspects such as discovery of new species, effect of vegetation, effect of geology and geography, and effect of disturbance on soil invertebrate communities.  Several new species of weta and spider have already been identified. 

Te Paki Dune Lake (relatively intact)

3. Littoral communities of Aupouri Peninsula dune lakes: Recently, a survey of the littoral zone (near the lake edge) of 17 dune lakes of the Aupouri Peninsula was conducted to examine invertebrate communities within the lakes in relation to the trophic status of the lake and surrounding land uses.  Specifically we are investigating whether it is possible to identify indicator species of lake health. Results thus far suggest that this is not possible and that lake communities are largely driven by factors other than trophic status and surrounding land use. This study also identified some species new to New Zealand. 

Black Mudfish

4. Mudfish seasonality and habitat use in Hikurangi swamp: Little is known about how black mudfish respond to different swamp habitats and how this may change according to season and disturbance effects such as cattle grazing and presence of mosquito fish (Gambusia affinis).  This study aims to examine all of these factors at one of Northland’s premier wetland sites, the Hikurangi Swamp.  Three years worth of sampling has been conducted to date.  Not surprisingly, mudfish seem to prefer areas of the wetland with significant manuka cover. But, more surprisingly, our study has also shown that open sedgeland is an important habitat for the species, particularly when cattle damage is minimal and Gambusia numbers are lower. The findings of this study will hopefully lead to improved understanding of habitat use by the black mudfish and the impacts of grazing by livestock on this species.  This in turn could improve strategies used to manage different black mudfish populations.

 

Publications

Journal papers
Ball, O.J.-P
., Pless C.D., Gwinn, K.D. and Popay, A.J.  2011.  Endophyte isolate and host grass effects on Chaetocnema pulicaria (Coleoptera:  Chrysomelidae) feeding.  Journal of Economic Entomology 104 (2): 665–672.

Winterbourn, M.J., Pohe, S.R. and Ball, O.J.-P.  2011.  Establishment of larval populations of the dragonfly Tramea loewii Kaup, 1866 (Odonata: Libellulidae) in lakes of northern New Zealand.  New Zealand Journal of Zoology 38 (2): 173–179.

Ball, O.J.-P., Coudron, T.A., Tapper, B.A., Davies, E., Trently, D., Bush, L.P., Gwinn, K.D. and Popay, A.J.  2006.  Importance of host plant species, Neotyphodium endophyte isolate, and alkaloids on feeding by Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) larvae.  Journal of Economic Entomology  99 (4): 1462–1473.

Ball, O.J.-P., and Parrish, R.  2005.  Lizard predation by North Island fernbird (Bowdleria punctata vealeae).  Notornis. 52: 250–251.

Pennell, C.G.L., Popay, A.J., Ball, O.J.-P., Hume, D.E. and Baird, D.B.  2005.  Occurrence and impact of pasture mealybug (Balanococcus poae) and root aphid (Aploneura lentisci) on ryegrass (Lolium spp.) with and without infection by Neotyphodium fungal endophytes.  New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research 48: 329–337.

Easton, H.S., Latch, G.C.M., Tapper, B.A. and Ball, O.J.-P.  2002.  Ryegrass host genetic control of concentrations of endophyte-derived alkaloids.  Crop Science 42:  51–57.

Ball, O.J.-P. and Tapper B.A.  1999.  The production of loline alkaloids in artificial and natural grass/endophyte associations.  Proceedings of the New Zealand Plant Protection Society Conference 52:  264–269.

Pennell, C.G.L. and Ball, O.J.-P.  1999.  The effects of Neotyphodium endophytes in tall fescue on pasture mealy bug (Balanococcus poae).  Proceedings of the New Zealand Plant Protection Society Conference 52:  259–263.

Miles, C.O., di Menna, M.E., Jacobs, S.W.L., Garthwaite, I., Lane, G.A., Prestidge, R.A., Marshall, S.L., Wilkinson, H.H., Schardl, C.L., Ball, O.J.-P. and Latch, G.C.M.  1998.  Endophytic fungi in indigenous Australasian grasses associated with toxicity to livestock.  Applied and Environmental Microbiology 64 (2): 601–606.

Ball, O.J.-P., Barker, G.M., Prestidge, R.A. and Lauren, D.R.  1997.  Distribution and accumulation of the alkaloid peramine in Neotyphodium lolii-infected perennial ryegrass. Journal of Chemical Ecology 23 (5): 1419–1434.

Ball, O.J.-P., Barker, G.M., Prestidge, R.A. and Sprosen, J.M.  1997.   Distribution and accumulation of the mycotoxin lolitrem B in Neotyphodium lolii- infected perennial ryegrass. Journal of Chemical Ecology 23 (5): 1435–1449.

Ball, O.J.-P., Miles, C.O. and Prestidge, R.A.  1997.  Ergopeptine alkaloids and Neotyphodium lolii-mediated resistance in perennial ryegrass against adult Heteronychus arator (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae).  Journal of Economic Entomology 90 (5):  1382–1391.

Ball, O.J.-P., Bernard, E.C. and Gwinn, K.D.  1997.  Effect of selected Neotyphodium lolii isolates on root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne marylandi) numbers in perennial ryegrass.  Proceedings of the New Zealand Plant Protection Society Conference 50:  65–68.

Christensen, M.J., Ball, O.J.-P., Bennett, R.J. and Schardl, C.L. 1997.  Fungal and host genotype effects on compatibility and vascular colonization by Epichloe festucae.  Mycological Research. 101 (4):  493–501.

Miles, C.O., Lane, G.A., di Menna, M.E., Garthwaite, I., Piper, E.L., Ball, O.J.-P., Latch, G.C.M., Allen, J.M., Hunt, M.B., Bush, L.P., Min, F.K., Fletcher, I. and Harris, P.S.  1996.  High levels of ergonovine and lysergic acid amide in toxic Achnatherium inebrians accompany infection by an Acremonium-like endophytic fungus.  Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 44:  1285–1290.

Ball, O.J.-P., Prestidge R.A. and Sprosen, J.M.  1995.  Interrelationship between Acremonium lolii, peramine, and lolitrem B in perennial ryegrass.  Applied and Environmental Microbiology 61 (4): 1527–1533.

Ball, O.J.-P., Lane, G.A. and Prestidge, R.A.  1995.  Acremonium lolii, ergovaline and peramine production in endophyte-infected perennial ryegrass.  Proceedings of the New Zealand Plant Protection Society Conference 48:  224–228.

Prestidge, R.A., Popay, A.J. and Ball, O.J.-P.  1994.  Biological control of pastoral pests using Acremonium spp. endophytes.  Proceedings of the New Zealand Grasslands Association. 56: 33–38.

Ball, O.J.-P., Christensen, M.J. and Prestidge, R.A.  1994.  Effect of selected isolates of Acremonium endophytes on adult black beetle (Heteronychus arator) feeding.  Proceedings of the New Zealand Plant Protection Society Conference 47:  227–231.

Ball, O.J.-P. and Prestidge R.A.  1992.  The effect of the endophytic fungus Acremonium lolii on adult black beetle (Heteronychus arator) feeding.  Proceedings of the New Zealand Plant Protection Society Conference 45:  201–204.

Ball, O.J.-P., Prestidge R.A., Sprosen, J.M. and Lauren, D.R.  1991.  Seasonal levels of peramine and lolitrem B in Acremonium lolii-infected perennial ryegrass.  Proceedings of the New Zealand Weed and Pest Control Conference 44:  176–180.

Collier, K.J., Ball, O.J.-P., Graesser, A.K., Main, M.R. and Winterbourn, M.J.  1990.  Do organic and anthropogenic acidity have similar effects on aquatic fauna?  Oikos. 59:  33–38.

Book chapters
Prestidge, R.A. and Ball, O.J.-P.  1996.  A catch 22:  The utilisation of endophytic fungi for pest management.  In: Multitrophic Interactions in Terrestrial Systems (eds. A.C. Gange and V.K. Brown): 171–192.

Full conference papers
Popay, A.J. and Ball, O.J.-P.  1998.  The development of fungal endophytes as a pest management tool for New Zealand grasslands.  Proceedings of the 6th Australasian Applied Entomological Research Conference: 373–381.

Lane, G.A., Ball, O.J.-P., Davies, E. and Davidson, C.  1997.  Ergovaline distribution in perennial ryegrass naturally infected with endophyte.  Proceedings of the 3rd International Symposium on Neotyphodium/Grass Interactions: 65–67.

Jones, R.S., Ball, O.J.-P., Gwinn, K.D. and Coudron, T.A.  1997.  Feeding preferences of fall armyworm on novel grass endophyte associations.  Proceedings of the 3rd International Symposium on Neotyphodium/Grass Interactions:  175–177.

Carter, J.D., Ball, O.J.-P., Gwinn, K.D. and Fribourg, H.A.  1997.  Immunological detection of the Neotyphodium-like endophyte of annual ryegrass.  Proceedings of the 3rd International Symposium on Neotyphodium/Grass Interactions:  247–249.

Ball, O.J.-P., Pless, C.D. and Gwinn, K.D.  1997.  Corn flea beetle (Chaetocnema pulicaria) responses to the natural endophytes of tall fescue, meadow fescue, and perennial ryegrass.  Proceedings of the 3rd International Symposium on Neotyphodium/Grass Interactions:  243–245.

Ball, O.J.-P. and Prestidge R.A.  1993.  The use of the endophytic fungus Acremonium lolii as a biological control agent of black beetle, Heteronychus arator (Coleoptera:  Scarabaeidae).  Proceedings of the 6th Australasian Grassland and Invertebrate Ecology Conference:  283–289.

Ball, O.J.-P., Prestidge R.A. and Sprosen, J.M.  1993.  Effect of plant age and endophyte viability on peramine and lolitrem B concentration in perennial ryegrass seedlings.  Proceedings of the 2nd International Symposium on Acremonium/Grass Interactions:  63–66.

Prestidge, R.A. and Ball, O.J.-P.  1993.  The role of endophytes in alleviating plant biotic stress in New Zealand.  Proceedings of the 2nd International Symposium on Acremonium/Grass Interactions (plenary papers):  141–151.

Watson, R.N., Prestidge, R.A. and Ball, O.J.-P.  1993.  Suppression of white clover by ryegrass infected with Acremonium endophyte. Proceedings of the 2nd International Symposium on Acremonium/Grass Interactions: 218–221.

Conference poster papers (abstracts), conference presentations (abstracts) and journal abstracts

Ball, O.J.-P., Thorpe, S. and Whaley, P.  2010.  Importance of native forest remnants for conservation of ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) endemic to the Te Paki Ecological District. Proceedings of the New Zealand Ecological Society Conference. (Poster).

Ball, O.J.-P., Fitzgerald, B.M. and Whaley, P.  2010.  Importance of forest remnants for endemic Te Paki spiders. Proceedings of the New Zealand Entomological Society Conference. (Presentation).

Ball, O.J.-P., Fitzgerald, M. and Whaley, P.  2008.  Spiders of Te Paki.  Proceedings of the New Zealand Ecological Society Conference.

Ball, O.J.-P. and Pohe, S.R.  2008.  Investigation of the black mudfish (Neochanna diversus) population within the Wairua River Wildlife Management Reserve.  Proceedings of the New Zealand Freshwater Sciences Society Conference.

Ball, O.J.-P., Whaley, P. and Booth, A.  2008.  Search for the Te Paki Mecodema: Part three.  Proceedings of the New Zealand Ecological Society Conference.

Ball, O.J.-P., Thorpe, S., Whaley, P. and Booth, A.  2007.  Forest floor ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) of Te Paki, Northland.  Biodiversity and conservation.  Proceedings of the New Zealand Ecological Society Conference.

Ball, O.J.-P., Whaley, P. and Booth, A.  2007.  Search for the Te Paki Mecodema: Part two.  Proceedings of the New Zealand Ecological Society Conference.

Ball, O.J.-P., Whaley, P. and Booth, A.  2006.  What has become of the Te Paki Mecodema?  Proceedings of the New Zealand Ecological Society Conference.

Pohe, S.R. and Ball, O.J.-P.  2006 Investigation of a black mudfish (Neochanna diversus) population in a Northland wetland.  Proceedings of the New Zealand Freshwater Sciences Society Conference.

Pohe, S.R., Alfaro, A.C. and Ball, O.J.-P.  2003.  An investigation of aquatic macroinvertebrate communities within the catchments of Matapouri Estuary, Northland, New Zealand.  Proceedings of the New Zealand Marine Sciences Society Conference.

Ball, O.J.-P. and Prestidge R.A.  1993.  Endophyte associated alkaloids, insect resistance and animal disorders:  an interrelated complex.  New Zealand Veterinary Journal 41:  216.

Contractual reports
Ball, O.J.-P
., and Fitzgerald, B.M.  2011.  A reassessment of Data Deficient spiders of Te Paki Ecological District, Northland, New Zealand.  Unpublished report prepared for the Department of Conservation. 15p.

Ball, O.J.-P., Pohe, S.R., and Winterbourn, M.J.  2008.  Impact of water quality on faunal communities and food webs in dune lakes of the Aupouri Peninsula.  Unpublished report prepared for Northland Regional Council.  Foundation for Research, Science, and Technology, EnviroLink Grant: 538-NLRC81. 16p.


Keywords

Mecodema, carabidae, leaf litter, invertebrates, Te Paki, mudfish, Neochanna, dune lake, Aupouri Peninsula, Odonata, Diptera, Mollusca, Hemiptera, littoral zone


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