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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)

  • 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