A portrait photo of Dr Geoff Baker

Dr Geoff Baker is using his expertise to help protect cotton and grain crops from invertebrate pest damage, and to enhance soil function via improved management of soil invertebrates, especially earthworms.

Dr Geoff Baker: developing management strategies for pest & beneficial invertebrates

Dr Geoff Baker’s current research focuses on the ecology of insect pests of cotton and managing moth resistance to transgenic cottons, ecology of exotic mollusc pests of grain crops and their potential biological control, and the ecology and management of soil invertebrates.

  • 18 February 2010 | Updated 13 November 2013

In this article

  1. Overview
  2. Publishing History

Overview

Page 1 of 2

Current activities

Dr Geoff Baker is a Senior Principal Research Scientist, nearing retirement in CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences.

His activities include:

  • Ecology and management of insect pests, most notably the key pests of cotton production systems, Helicoverpa spp. (Noctuidae), especially at landscape scale,
  • Ecology and management of Mediterranean snails (Theba, Cernuella, Cochlicella), which are key pests of grain crops in southern Australia, with particular emphasis on biological control options,
  • Ecology and management of soil invertebrates, especially earthworms, with focus on enhancing the ecosystem services they can provide (soil structure, fertility & plant production).

Background

After completing his Doctorate in 1976, Dr Baker tutored in terrestrial and marine ecology at the Field Studies Council of Great Britain in Wales for two years.

A National University of Ireland Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Science and Engineering then enabled him to undertake work at University College, Dublin, Ireland, on the ecology of earthworms and their role in the reclamation of peat bogs.

Dr Baker joined CSIRO Entomology in 1980.  Initially based in Portugal, he investigated biological control of Portuguese millipedes which are nuisance pests in southern Australia. He returned to Adelaide, South Australia, to complete the work whilst located at the then South Australian Department of Agriculture, now South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI).

From the mid 1980s, Dr Baker was based at the CSIRO Waite Campus laboratories in Adelaide working on the ecology and biological control of pest Mediterranean snails in grain crops and pastures.  These studies have continued until the present, albeit less intensively in recent years.

In 1989, he began research on earthworms with a view to improving soil structure, fertility and plant production, especially in soils used for pasture and grain crops. Most of the work focussed on exotic Lumbricidae which dominate agricultural landscapes in southern Australia.

Dr Baker moved to Canberra in 1998 and became project leader for Cotton Pest Management in 2000. In 2004, he was appointed Stream Leader for Ecosystem Management and also a Stream Leader for the Water for a Healthy Country Flagship (Terrestrial Biodiversity Cross-Cutting Theme).  In 2006, he became a Theme Leader (Biological Drivers for Agricultural Sustainability).  

From 2007 to 2011, Dr Baker was firstly a Research Program Leader in Invasion Biology & Functional Ecology) in CSIRO Entomology, and then with the creation of the new CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences division, a Research Program Leader in Functional Ecology and Systematics.  Dr Baker was also a Stream Leader (Multi-Functional Biodiverse Landscapes) in the Sustainable Agriculture Flagship (2007 to 2013), and a Group Leader in CES in Functional Ecology (2011-2013).  Over the years, his research has been primarily supported by the grains, wool, dairy and cotton industries, as well as various other more general environmental funding.

He was a member of the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Soil and Land Management (1991-98) and the Australian Cotton  / Cotton Catchment Communities CRCs (2000-12).

Academic qualifications

In 1972, Dr Baker was awarded his Bachelor of Science with Honours by the University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia.

In 1976, Dr Baker received his doctorate, also from the University of Adelaide.

His thesis was titled The ecology and life history of the introduced millipede, Ommatoiulus moreletii in South Australia.

Other

Dr Baker was an Affiliate Senior Lecturer in the Department of Soil Science, at the University of Adelaide, from 1991-98.

He served for many years (until 2013) on the editorial boards of:

  • Soil Biology and Biochemistry
  • Applied Soil Ecology
  • Biology and Fertility of Soils.

Find out more about CSIRO's research on Biodiversity: benefits and threats.