Laura Young - People - New Zealand School of Forestry - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Laura Young



Postdoctoral Fellow




Forestry 233

Contact Details

Phone: +64 3 364 2987 ext. 3881

Postal Address

School of Forestry
College of Engineering
University of Canterbury
Private Bag 4800
New Zealand

Rural Ecology Research Group (RERG)

Post-doctoral Research

Integrating biodiversity conservation in agricultural landscapes:
Intensification of agricultural production on hill country often involves clearance of native vegetation (tussocks, shrubs) and replacement by high producing pasture. But does this native biodiversity have benefits that are unappreciated and would be lost through clearance, and how important is this biodiversity for nature conservation anyway? These are both major knowledge gaps, which this research will address. The benefits provided to farming by native biodiversity (plants and animals) are poorly understood as is their importance to the resilience of farming operations over longer time periods, especially through difficult climatic events (e.g. drought or severe snow). Key benefits provided by native biodiversity to farming include shelter for new-born livestock, shade for livestock and pasture, nutrient cycling, water regulation and purification, soil stabilisation, carbon sequestration and pollination. This research will quantify benefits that native biodiversity provides to farm production in hill country farming systems through a mix of experimental and observational studies, quantifying benefits to farm production in terms of pasture growth, lamb survival, soil erosion, soil quality and legume pollination. We will also evaluate the native biodiversity present on our study farms in terms of the contribution it makes to broader nature conservation goals (e.g. as articulated through district and regional planning documents) and assess the long-term viability of this biodiversity under farming.

Other Research Interests

  • Seed dispersal in alpine ecosystems
  • Monitoring and ecological patterns in the Cass Mountain Research Area
  • Kea research and conservation
  • Biodiversity surveys


Young, L.M., Norton, D.A., Lambert, MT. (2016). One hundred years of vegetation change at Cass, eastern South Island high country. New Zealand      Journal of Ecology 40(3): 289-301.

Norton, D.A., Young, L.M. (2016). Effect of artificial shade and grazing removal on degraded grasslands: Implications of woody restoration for herbaceous vegetation. Ecological Management and Restoration 17(2): 140-146.

Norton, D.A., Young, L.M. (2016). Effects of sheep grazing exclusion on alpine tall tussock grasslands. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 40(1): 179-185.

Steel O., Kraberger S., Sikorski A., Young L.M., Catchpole R.J., Stevens A.J., Ladley J.J., Coray D.S., Stainton D., Dayaram A., Julian L., van Bysterveldt K., Varsani A. (2016). Circular replication-associated protein encoding DNA viruses identified in the faecal matter of various animals in New Zealand. Genetics and Evolution 43: 151-164.

Young, L.M., Kelly, D. (2014). Current rates of fruit removal and seed dispersal in New Zealand fleshy-fruited mountain plants. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 38(2): 288-296.

Norton, D.A., Reid, N., Young, L.M. (2013). Ultimate drivers of native biodiversity change in agricultural systems. F1000 Research 2013, 2:214 (doi: 10.12688/f1000research.2-214.v1).

Sikorski, A., Massaro, M., Kraberger, S, Young, L.M., Smalley, D., Roumagnac, P., Martin, D.P., Varsani, A. (2013). Novel myco-like DNA viruses discovered in the faecal matter of various animals. Virus Research, 177: 209-216.

Young, L.M., Norton, D., McIntosh, A. (2013). Cass Mountain Research Area Management Plan 2013-2017. University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. 45 pp.

Young, L.M., Kelly, D., Nelson, X.J. (2012). Alpine flora may depend on declining frugivorous parrot for seed dispersal. Biological Conservation 147, 133-142.

Young, L.M., Bell, R.J.H. (2010).  Frugivory and primary seed dispersal by a New Zealand falcon (Falco novaeseelandiae) at Red Tarns, Mt Sebastapol, New Zealand. Notornis 57: 94-95.

Blakely, T.J. Jellyman, P.G., Holdaway, R.J., Young, L.M., Burrows, B., Duncan, P., Thirkettle, D., Simpson, J., Ewers, R.M., Didham, R.K. (2008) The abundance, distribution and structural characteristics of tree-holes in Nothofagus forest, New Zealand. Austral Ecology, 33: 963-974.

Young, L.M., Marris, J.W.M. & Pawson, S.M. (2008). Back from extinction: The rediscovery of Hadramphus tuberculatus (Pascoe 1877) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) with a review of its historical distribution. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 35: 323-330.

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