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Professor William George Lee

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Honorary Academic

Research | Current

I have broad interests in mainly indigenous plants in natural settings and the factors influencing their form and function.

The main questions I have explored over recent years have been

  • How do plants cope with being eaten by birds and mammals and what evolutionary responses are possible in different environments?
  • Can we predict the spread and impact of invasive species?
  • Are there assembly rules for plant communities and how do biotic and abiotic factors influence the composition and trait profile of plants in different environments?
  • How do we measure biodiversity and conservation performance to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of management to maintain the persistence of biodiversity?
  • Are bryophytes and pteridophytes drivers or passengers in plant communities?
  • What processes during the Neogene and Quaternary have determined the composition and characteristics of our modern biota?

Postgraduate supervision

I welcome enquiries from students about potential research projects, especially if you want to spend some time in the far south of New Zealand. I am based in Dunedin but have involvement in research projects throughout New Zealand.

Areas of expertise

Biodiversity, Biosecurity and Conservation

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Purcell, A. S. T., Lee, W. G., Tanentzap, A. J., & Laughlin, D. C. (2019). Fine Root Traits Are Correlated with Flooding Duration while Aboveground Traits Are Related to Grazing in an Ephemeral Wetland. WETLANDS, 39 (2), 291-302. 10.1007/s13157-018-1084-8
  • Brock, J. M. R., Burns, B. R., Perry, G. L. W., & Lee, W. G. (2019). Gametophyte niche differences among sympatric tree ferns. Biology Letters, 15 (1).10.1098/rsbl.2018.0659
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Bruce Burns, James Brock, George Perry
  • Reichgelt, T., Kennedy, E. M., Conran, J. G., Lee, W. G., & Lee, D. E. (2019). The presence of moisture deficits in Miocene New Zealand. GLOBAL AND PLANETARY CHANGE, 172, 268-277. 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2018.10.013
  • Ropars, P., Comeau É, Lee, W., & Boudreau, S. (2018). Biome transition in a changing world: from indigenous grasslands to shrub-dominated communities. New Zealand Journal of Ecology, 42 (2).10.20417/nzjecol.42.26
  • Brock, J. M. R., Perry, G. L. W., Lee, W. G., Schwendenmann, L., & Burns, B. R. (2018). Pioneer tree ferns influence community assembly in northern New Zealand forests. New Zealand Journal of Ecology, 42 (1), 18-30. 10.20417/nzjecol.42.5
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Bruce Burns, James Brock, George Perry, Luitgard Schwendenmann
  • Beimforde, C., Tuovila, H., Schmidt, A. R., Lee, W. G., Gube, M., & Rikkinen, J. (2017). Chaenothecopsis schefflerae (Ascomycota: Mycocaliciales): a widespread fungus on semi-hardened exudates of endemic New Zealand Araliaceae. New Zealand Journal of Botany, 55 (4), 387-406. 10.1080/0028825X.2017.1360368
  • Brandt, A. J., Lee, W. G., Tanentzap, A. J., Hayman, E., Fukami, T., & Anderson, B. J. (2017). Evolutionary priority effects persist in anthropogenically created habitats, but not through nonnative plant invasion. New Phytologist, 215 (2), 865-876. 10.1111/nph.14544
  • Reichgelt, T., Lee, W. G., Lusk, C. H., & Kennedy, E. M. (2017). Changes in leaf physiognomy of New Zealand woody assemblages in response to Neogene environmental cooling. Journal of Biogeography, 44 (5), 1160-1171. 10.1111/jbi.12980