NZES Hot Topics

Read our Current Hot Topics


What are NZES Hot Topics?

Following hot on the heels of the success of the Hot Topics programme run by the Ecological Society of Australia, the NZES aims to improve communication of science from the conservation and ecological community within Aotearoa New Zealand to the people of NZ. The NZES Hot Topic reports will likewise provide a robust source of ecological and conservation science to counter misinformation and evidence complacency. The programme was established in 2018 as an initiative of the Kauri Fund.

NZES Hot Topic reports are evidence-based communiqués on conservation, environmental and predominantly ecological issues that are currently either in the media, or of interest to a broad cross-section of people from policy makers, land managers, conservation volunteers. NZES Hot Topics aim to provide clear, concise, evidence-based statements that aspire to enhance the nature of scientific debate in New Zealand and objectively inform public discourse on topics of national and regional importance.

As part of the aim of NZES Hot Topics to provide robust, relevant and accessible scientific information, the reports will be maintained as active documents and as such will be updated as and when new evidence is produced by scientific studies.

Hot Topic reports comprise of a one-page / 500 word overview of the issue, synthesising peer-reviewed and published scientific research. Each report is accompanied by a list of (preferably) open-access literature that provides support for the assertions made.

Hot Topics reports are produced in one of two ways: 1) scientists working in the ecological space are contacted by the editorial team to provide expertise on a Hot Topic; 2) NZES members can suggest Hot Topics and submit reports to the editorial team (see below).

NZES Hot Topics is governed by an editorial team consisting of New Zealand-based ecologists George Perry and James Brock.

Who can use the NZES Hot Topic reports?

Anyone! The aim of these reports is to inform. If you are interested in an ecological / conservation / environmental issue, passionate about a cause, or have heard anyone from neighbour to politician misrepresenting the facts of an issue in discussion or debate, then use this information! Social media links (e.g. twitter icons) are available to readily and easily provide access to the reports. If you have information that you can contribute to a Hot Topic report please forward this to the editorial team.

Who gets to write an NZES Hot Topic report?

Anyone who has specific knowledge and expertise on the subject. This is not limited to the research community. If you have recently undertaken a review of a topic, are knowledgeable on the issue at hand, or simply are passionate about a subject and can produce a short overview of the peer-reviewed literature you are welcome to submit; please contact the editorial team initially to agree on a proposed topic. Contribute facts and evidence to public discourse in a form more accessible to the people of New Zealand than scientific literature.

What will be accepted by the editorial board?

Evidence-based, clear review of peer-reviewed literature. The literature supporting a submitted report does not have to be extensive, three or four articles to provide support will suffice; however, the report must represent the broader literature. Opinion pieces will not be accepted.

Information for submission:

Please provide a 1 page / 500 word overview on a proposed Hot Topic with at least three peer-reviewed scientific documents supporting statements made in the report. Email to the Hot Topics Editor.


Current Hot Topics

Threats to New Zealand's dryland ecosystems

Recent land clearance has laid waste to native ecosystems across significant areas of the inland South Island, destroying already tenuous endemic species populations and creating a major conservation burden for future generations.  Ecological research to identify, measure, understand, and communicate the effects of land use change is essential to halt and turn the tide.

Cats and biodiversity (in NZ)


Regardless of how well-fed they are, cats kill wildlife and are also a source of disease (e.g., toxoplasma) that can kill native species and affect human health. Feral cat management is not currently contentious in New Zealand, although some felt it was wrong to exclude cats from the Predator Free New Zealand 2050 vision, even in the face of anticipated strong social opposition. However, management of stray and pet cats is certainly a problem.