Professor William George Lee

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)

  • 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)10.20417/nzjecol.42.5
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Bruce Burns, 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
  • Daigneault, A. J., Eppink, F. V., & Lee, W. G. (2017). A national riparian restoration programme in New Zealand: Is it value for money?. Journal of Environmental Management, 187, 166-177. 10.1016/j.jenvman.2016.11.013
  • Tanentzap, A. J., & Lee, W. G. (2017). Evolutionary conservatism explains increasing relatedness of plant communities along a flooding gradient. New Phytologist, 213 (2), 634-644. 10.1111/nph.14167
  • Brandt, A. J., Tanentzap, A. J., Leopold, D. R., Heenan, P. B., Fukami, T., & Lee, W. G. (2016). Precipitation alters the strength of evolutionary priority effects in forest community assembly of pteridophytes and angiosperms. Journal of Ecology, 104 (6), 1673-1681. 10.1111/1365-2745.12640
  • Brock, J. M. R., Perry, G. L. W., Lee, W. G., & Burns, B. R. (2016). Tree fern ecology in New Zealand: A model for southern temperate rainforests. Forest Ecology and Management, 375, 112-126. 10.1016/j.foreco.2016.05.030
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Bruce Burns, George Perry


Contact details

Alternative contact

Primary office location

TAMAKI BUILDING 733 - Bldg 733
Level 3, Room 335
New Zealand

Web links