Dr David Pattemore

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Senior Lecturer


I'm an ecologist and pollination biologist with a joint appointment at the University of Auckland and Plant & Food Research. I've been at Plant & Food Research since 2011 when I completed my PhD at Princeton University, and I am currently the Science Team Leader for Pollination & Apiculture, based in Hamilton.

Research | Current

My research focuses on understanding the dynamics of pollination systems by integrating across the diverse fields of floral biology, pollinator biology and behaviour, and ecology. I primarily work in crop systems such as avocado, kiwifruit, and stonefruit, but also have interests in fundamental questions about the evolution and ecology of pollination and other critical ecosystem functions, and the effects of novel interactions between native & exotic species.

I’ve led the development of new technologies, including an automated radio telemetry system for small, fast-moving animals, which is a globally unique tool to deliver deeper insights into animal movement and behaviour. With Kiwinet funding, we are now commercialising the system so that this technology will be available to researchers globally. 

My interest in pollinators also developed into an interest in the behaviour and ecology of NZ’s bat species, following my observations of the flower-visiting behaviour of short-tailed bats (Mystacina tuberculata).

My current research includes a large MBIE-funded programme to develop alternative pollination approaches for NZ growers (such as techniques to utilise bumble bees in open orchard environments), MPI-funded research to determine whether honey bees might be vectors of myrtle rust (Austropuccinia psidii), and a PFR-funded programme to develop mathematical models of crop pollination systems.  

Postgraduate supervision

I have currently have funding available for the following post-graduate student projects:

Ecology and evolution of avocado flowering and pollination

Avocado (Persea americana) has a complex flowering system, with male and female function separated in time and with cultivars that exhibit different flowering cycles and respond differently to environmental conditions. Recent work has established physiological pathways governing flower quality and has extended our understanding of avocado’s pollination system. There is now an opportunity to pull together this existing work under an evolutionary framework to develop and test conceptual models to explain the function of this complex flowering system. As a member of the basal angiosperm family Lauraceae, as well as an increasingly important crop, avocado provides an opportunity to link fundamental science through to application for a commercially important crop. Email expressions of interest to dpattemore@auckland.ac.nz


Honey bees and plant pathogens

Honey bees (Apis mellifera), exhibit flexibility in their foraging, collecting a variety of non-floral sugar and protein sources to substitute nectar and pollen. This can become problematic when the substances contain plant pathogens, such as in the case of bees collecting pollen contaminated with bacterial plant-pathogens or the collection of fungal rust spores (including spores of myrtle rust, Austropuccinia psidii). This project will seek to understand the triggers for foraging on non-floral protein sources using fungal rusts as models, with the aim of developing and testing predictions for the role of honey bees in the spread of plant pathogens. Students interested in research that integrates across the fields of social insect behaviour, ecology, plant pathology and molecular biology can contact me at dpattemore@auckland.ac.nz


Honey bee impacts on native ecosystems

Honey derived from the native NZ tree mānuka (Leptospermum scoparium) has significantly increased in value since antibacterial properties of the honey were discovered and marketed. Over the last 10 years, NZ’s export revenue from honey has increased nearly seven-fold and this has driven a large expansion in the NZ beekeeping industry. There are now nearly 900,000 registered honey bee (Apis mellifera) hives in NZ, most of which are shifted onto sites adjacent to areas of regenerating native forest in spring and summer to target mānuka flowering. A major unanswered question is how these honey bees affect native ecosystems, both the plants they visit and the other flower visitors that also seek out nectar and pollen. This project will focus on integrating knowledge of honey bee behaviour with new research on the floral biology and pollinators of native plants to assess how the impacts of honey bees can be quantified, monitored and managed. Email expressions of interest to dpattemore@auckland.ac.nz



For students who are able to secure university post-graduate scholarships, there is a wider range of research topics available, including:

- Agroecology: an ecosystem approach to managing farms & orchards 

- Kiwifruit floral biology & pollination

- Bumble bee biology & behaviour

- Ecological and evolutionary effects of changes in pollinator fauna communities on native plant & ecosystems

- Behaviour and ecology of flower-visiting birds, bats and lizards

- Native bee biology & behaviour

- Monitoring and management of native bee populations  


Send me an email if you would like discuss any of the above research ideas, or would like some feedback on a related research idea. 



Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Stavert, J., Pattemore, D., Gaskett, A., Beggs, J., & Bartomeus, I. (2017). Exotic species enhance response diversity to land-use change but modify functional composition. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 284 (1860)10.1098/rspb.2017.0788
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Anne Gaskett, Jacqueline Beggs
  • Brown, M. J., Dicks, L. V., Paxton, R. J., Baldock, K. C., Barron, A. B., Chauzat, M.-P., ... Kremen, C. (2016). A horizon scan of future threats and opportunities for pollinators and pollination. PeerJ, 410.7717/peerj.2249
  • Rader, R., Bartomeus, I., Garibaldi, L. A., Garratt, M. P., Howlett, B. G., Winfree, R., ... Andersson, G. K. (2016). Non-bee insects are important contributors to global crop pollination. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113 (1), 146-151. 10.1073/pnas.1517092112
  • Stavert, J. R., Liñán-Cembrano G, Beggs, J. R., Howlett, B. G., Pattemore, D. E., & Bartomeus, I. (2016). Hairiness: The missing link between pollinators and pollination. PeerJ, 410.7717/peerj.2779
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jacqueline Beggs
  • Pattemore, D. E., Goodwin, R. M., McBrydie, H. M., Hoyte, S. M., & Vanneste, J. L. (2014). Evidence of the role of honey bees (Apis mellifera) as vectors of the bacterial plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae. Australasian Plant Pathology, 43 (5), 571-575. 10.1007/s13313-014-0306-7
  • Daniel Kissling, W., Pattemore, D. E., & Hagen, M. (2014). Challenges and prospects in the telemetry of insects. Biological Reviews, 89 (3), 511-530. 10.1111/brv.12065
  • Pattemore, D., & Anderson, S. (2013). Severe pollen limitation in populations of the New Zealand shrub Alseuosmia macrophylla (Alseuosmiaceae) can be attributed to the loss of pollinating bird species. Austral Ecology, 38 (1), 95-102. 10.1111/j.1442-9993.2012.02381.x
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Sandra Anderson
  • Pattemore, D. E., & Wilcove, D. S. (2012). Invasive rats and recent colonist birds partially compensate for the loss of endemic New Zealand pollinators. Proceedings. Biological sciences, 279 (1733), 1597-1605. 10.1098/rspb.2011.2036

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Primary office location

Level 5, Room 501
New Zealand