Dr Ben Hoffmann, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems

Dr Ben Hoffmann is researching strategies to manage invasive pest ants.

Dr Ben Hoffmann: applied ant ecology in northern Australia

Dr Ben Hoffmann's research focuses on the invasive ecology and management of pest ants, and the disturbance ecology of native ant communities and their use as bio-indicators in land management.

  • 30 October 2007 | Updated 6 August 2014

In this article

  1. Overview
  2. Publishing History

Overview

Page 1 of 2

Current activities

Dr Ben Hoffmann is a Principle Research Scientist at CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences in Darwin, Northern Territory. Dr Hoffmann's research interests are invasive ant ecology and management, ant community ecology and ants as bioindicators.

"CSIRO is collaborating with many local and regional organisations to effectively manage invasive ant incursions, especially on Indigenous lands."

Dr Ben Hoffmann

Dr Hoffmann is involved in the following pest ant projects:

  • Eradication and invasion ecology of Yellow crazy ant (Anoplolepis gracilipes) in north-east Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory
  • Eradication of African big-headed ant (Pheidole megacephala) and Tropical fire ant (Solenopsis geminata) on the Tiwi Islands, north of Darwin, Northern Territory
  • Tropical fire ant management on Ashmore Reef in the Indian Ocean, north-west of Australia
  • African big-headed ant (Pheidole megacephala) eradication on Lord Howe Island.

Dr Hoffmann is on the scientific advisory committee for the Yellow crazy ant management program on Christmas Island.

'CSIRO is collaborating with many local and regional organisations to effectively manage invasive ant incursions, especially on Indigenous lands. Our research aims to document the impacts of these ants on native biodiversity and ecological function, to develop effective management strategies, as well as to contribute to a more broader theoretical understandings of how and why invasions occur', says Dr Hoffmann.

Introduced ants cause great environmental and economic threats to northern Australia. In natural environments, pest ants can eliminate many native animal species and seriously disrupt ecological processes. Domestically, pest ants can destroy electrical items and are a social nuisance.

Dr Hoffmann is also involved in the following projects:

  • Assessment of ant community and species diversity changes along the TREND transect in South Australia
  • Assessment of ant community responses to cattle grazing regimes at the Wambianna experiment

Background

Dr Hoffmann developed an interest in ants when he was a secondary school student undertaking work experience with Dr Alan Andersen at CSIRO in Darwin in 1990.

His research into pest ants began in 1996, when his Honours project investigated the ecological impacts of the African big-headed ant (Pheidole megacephala) at a conservation park near Darwin. He then commenced his doctoral studies with CSIRO and Charles Darwin University (then the Northern Territory University) on using ants to monitor environmental health.

In the late 1990s, African big-headed ant was discovered in Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory. In 2000 Dr Hoffmann led a joint CSIRO and Parks Australia initiative to eradicate the pest ant from the Park. By December 2002, African big-headed ant and Tropical fire ant were eradicated from Kakadu.

Dr Hoffmann has since collaborated with many Indigenous organisations to eradicate some of the world's worst ant invaders from regions of outstanding ecological and cultural significance in northern Australia. In 2010, the collaboration with Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation and Rio Tinto Alcan Gove against yellow crazy ant won the Gold Banksia Environmental Award, and the inaugural NAIDOC Caring for Country Award, and in 2011 also won a UN Association of Australia world environment day award.

Academic qualifications

Dr Hoffmann has been awarded a:

  • Bachelor of Science with Honours
  • Doctor of Philosophy from the Northern Territory University, Darwin (now Charles Darwin University) under the supervision of Dr Alan Andersen in 2000.

Achievements

Dr Hoffmann is a member of the:

  • Ecological Society of Australia
  • Northern Territory Horticultural Association.

Dr Hoffmann has received the following awards for his research work:

  • United Nations of Australia – environment award 2011, for Arnhem Land Yellow crazy ant Management Project (partnership with Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation and Rio Tinto Alcan Gove)Banksia Award - Origin Gold Overall Winner 2010, for Arnhem Land Yellow crazy ant Management Project (partnership with Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation and Rio Tinto Alcan Gove)
  • Banksia Award - Indigenous Caring for Country Award 2010, for Arnhem Land Yellow crazy ant Management Project (partnership with Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation and Rio Tinto Alcan Gove)
  • CSIRO medal - John Philip Award for the Promotion of Excellence in Young Scientists, 2009
  • CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems Division Divisional Award for Partnership Excellence, 2005
  • Fresh Science Award Winner, National Science Forum, 2002.

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