Dr Saul Cunningham wearing a maroon jumper

Dr Saul Cunningham

Dr Saul Cunningham: managing diverse landscapes for environmental and agricultural benefit

Dr Saul Cunningham is researching how insect communities can be managed to benefit agricultural production and biodiversity conservation.

  • 31 October 2008 | Updated 13 November 2013

In this article

  1. Overview
  2. Publishing History

Overview

Page 1 of 2

Current activities

Dr Cunningham and his team focus on diverse communities (especially insects) in mixed landscapes of agriculture, remnant vegetation and re-planted native vegetation.

Dr Cunningham wants to find out if insect communities can be managed to benefit the sustainability of native vegetation and agricultural production.

Dr Cunningham's work is increasingly important in Australia, where the Varroa mite poses a serious threat to honeybee populations

This research forms part of the Sustainable Agriculture Flagship and the Building Resilient Biodiversity Assets theme within CSIRO.

Dr Cunningham is also an Adjunct Lecturer in the Research School of Biology at the Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, where he supervises research students.

Background

Dr Cunningham’s early research focused on the way in which animals influence the reproductive success of plants, including positive contributions from the pollination of flowers, and negative effects of animals that eat flowers and fruits.

More recently Dr Cunningham and his colleagues have examined the effects of habitat fragmentation on reproduction by plants and the effects of plant density on pollen movement.

Pollinators are also important for their role in pollinating crops used by people.

Anterior view of a pinned beetle.

The presence or absence of certain insects helps scientists understand the dynamics of forest communities.

Dr Cunningham and his collaborators have worked on pollination of fruit and nut crops in tropical Queensland, broadacre canola and Faba beans in southern Australia, and Almond orchards.

He has also been part of a global network of researchers examining the role of crop pollinators in world food production.

This group has assessed the possible impacts of declining wild and managed pollinator populations.

The work is increasingly important in Australia, where the Varroa mite poses a serious threat to honeybee populations.

Dr Cunningham is also interested in understanding how landscapes can be managed to maximise the long term sustainability of insect communities and the vegetation they interact with.

The overarching goal of his work is to understand how to manage productive landscapes the meet our agricultural needs, protect biodiversity, and provide ecosystem services to society.

Academic qualifications

Dr Cunningham has been awarded a:

  • Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, in 1989
  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Connecticut, USA, in 1995.

Find out more about the work of Ecosystem Sciences.