About

My introduction to ecology and conservation came as a study abroad experience in Queensland's rainforests, after which I found that plans for medical school paled in comparison to an environmentally-oriented career. I earned a Masters in Public Health degree in Environmental Health at the University of California-Berkeley and consulted for a non-profit environmental organization for three years.  I interned at a field study school in Kenya for a year, then traveled around the world before settling down to earn my Ph.D. at Cornell University. While there, I became interested in biological invasions as a conservation issue, particularly invasions by easily overlooked creatures. Upon completing my Ph.D., I went to Mauritius on an NSF fellowship to research ant invasions in a restoration context. An ARC-Discovery grant on biological invasions and conservation in an urban context brought me to Western Australia in 2005. I started at JCU in 2013, in the shadow of the rainforest where I got my ecological start.

Teaching
  • BZ2480: Restoration Ecology (Level 2; CNS)
  • BZ2880: Ecology: Distribution, Abundance and Diversity (Level 2; CNS)
  • BZ3225: Field Ecology (Level 3; CNS)
  • BZ5225: Field Ecology (Level 5; CNS)
  • BZ5880: Ecology: Distribution, Abundance and Diversity (Level 5; CNS)
  • MB2080: Invertebrate Biology (Level 2; CNS)
  • MB5380: Invertebrate Biology (Level 5; CNS)
  • SC1101: Science: Nature, Knowledge and Understanding (Level 1; CNS)
Interests
Research
  • I am interested in how human-induced environmental changes affect interactions among species, particularly those between plants and insects. These relationships fascinate me because they drive many of the ecological processes in the world around us, and yet are often overlooked. Much of my research has investigated invasive social insects and how their interactions differ from native species, in particular, how they enter into new, or disrupt existing, mutualistic interactions with other insects or plants. Answering these questions not only advances our understanding of biological invasions and potential to mitigate their effects, but adds to our knowledge of community and trophic ecology and the ecology and evolution of mutualisms. I primarily use field-based experimental approaches to answer questions that are relevant to conservation and restoration.
Experience
  • 2016 to present - Senior Lecturer, James Cook University (Cairns, Queensland)
  • 2013 to 2016 - ARC Research Fellow, James Cook University (Cairns, Queensland)
  • 2009 to 2013 - Assistant Professor, University of Western Australia (Perth)
Research Disciplines
Honours
Awards
  • 2015 - Invasive Species Council, Froggatt Award, Communication category: For exceptional efforts in raising awareness about the threat of yellow crazy ant and mobilising action to help eradicate the ant from the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area
Fellowships
  • 2013 to 2016 - ARC DECRA Fellowship
Publications

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
Book Chapters
  • Ewel J, Mascaro J, Kueffer C, Lugo A, Lach L and Gardener M (2013) Islands: where novelty is the norm. In: Novel Ecosystems: intervening in the new ecological world order. Wiley-Blackwell, West Sussex, UK, pp. 29-44
  • Kennedy P, Lach L, Lugo A and Hobbs R (2013) Fauna and novel ecosystems. In: Novel Ecosystems: intervening in the new ecological world order. Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, UK, pp. 127-141
  • Mascaro J, Harris J, Lach L, Thompson A, Perring M, Richardson D and Ellis E (2013) Origins of the novel ecosystems concept. In: Novel Ecosystems: intervening in the new ecological world order. Wiley-Blackwell, West Sussex, UK, pp. 45-57
More

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 25+ research outputs authored by Dr Lori Lach from 2000 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

WV Scott Charitable Trust - Research Grant

Interactions among fungi, ants, and the ant-plant Myrmecodia beccarii

Indicative Funding
$21,000
Summary
Myrmecodia beccarii is a vulnerable endemic ant-plant of far north Queensland. This ant-plant provides ants with housing in specialised tunnels and chambers. Fungi were discovered in these chambers almost 40 years ago but their identity and functional roles have never been determined. I will explore the ecological interactions among fungi, ants and M. beccarrii to establish and define this tripartite mutualism. To do this, I will conduct field work to determine the distribution of fungal species within M.beccarii and field/greenhouse experiments to investigate the interactions and functional roles of fungi. The results will be used to inform the conservation of M. beccarri.
Investigators
Melinda Greenfield, Sandra Abell, Lori Lach, Joe Holtum, Brad Congdon and Leho Tedersoo (College of Science & Engineering and University of Tartu)
Keywords
Myrmecodia beccarii (Rubiaceae); Ant-plants; Philidris cordata (Formicidae); Fungi

Wet Tropics Management Authority - Contract Research

Research to Inform Yellow Crazy Ant Management in the Wet Tropics

Indicative Funding
$544,967 over 3 years
Summary
Research and activities required will be: ensure compliance with APVMA permit conditions; research efficacy of current pesticide treatments; research the reproductive phenology of YCA colonies and factors affecting; assess effects of YCA and the baiting program on biodiversity; maintain breeding colonies of YCA for use in dog detection training; design, develop, and test new detection techniques; design and develop further monitoring protocols; analyse WTMA collected data; attend and present findings at monthly and quarterly meetings; provide periodic reports and stay up-to-date with new developments in YCA management.
Investigators
Lori Lach (College of Science & Engineering)
Keywords
Yellow crazy ants (Formicidae); Wet Tropics World Heritage Area; Detection; Nest Structure; Population Dynamics; Baiting

Kuranda Envirocare Inc - Contract Research

Yellow crazy ant biology and novel control methodologies

Indicative Funding
$10,000
Summary
We will explore yellow crazy ant biology (e.g., reproduction, pheromones) with the aim of identifying novel methods of controlling yellow crazy ant populations.
Investigators
Lori Lach in collaboration with Pauline Lenancker (College of Science & Engineering)
Keywords
Yellow crazy ants; Formicidae; Wet Tropics World Heritage Area; Pheromones; Nest structure; Population Dynamics

Skyrail Rainforest Foundation - Research Funding

Resolving the reproductive mode of the invasive Yellow Crazy Ant (Anoplolepis gracilipes)

Indicative Funding
$3,200
Summary
The Yellow Crazy Ant (Anoplolepis gracilipes) has invaded areas in and around Queensland's rainforests and threaten these unique sites and their irreplaceable biodiversity. The reproductive mode of Anoplolepis gracilipes is unresolved which limits our understanding of the factors making it such a successful invader. I will investigate the worker reproduction of Anoplolepis gracilipes focusing on the rainforest population around Cairns. Studying the reproduction of Anoplolepis gracilipes will help understand how the ants can build up populations again after having their numbers diminished by baiting. Ultimately, this work will assist eradication efforts currently taking place in Queensland's rainforests.
Investigators
Pauline Lenancker and Lori Lach (College of Science & Engineering)
Keywords
Anoplolepis gracilipes; Invasive Ants; Invasive ecology; Asexual Reproduction; Population Genetics; Yellow Crazy Ants

Wet Tropics Management Authority - Student Research Grant Scheme

Effects of the presence of a queen on the foraging behaviour of the invasive yellow crazy ant, Anoplolepis gracilipes

Indicative Funding
$1,000
Summary
This project will aim to determine the effects of the presence of a queen on the foraging behaviour of yellow crazy ants Anoplolepis gracilipes. The colonies will be randomly assigned to one of two treatments: queenless and queenright (queen present). The experiment will measure the how long it takes for the colonies to discover the food (discovery time) and compare the performance of both treatments. The experiment will also determine the preferred food source of each treatment. This project is significant because it will reveal how the colony makeup affects the colony?s foraging behaviour, particularly the presence of a queen.
Investigators
Rankin Salinas and Lori Lach (College of Science & Engineering)
Keywords
Formicidae; Anoplolepis gracilipes; invasive species; foraging; queen; behaviour

Wet Tropics Management Authority - Student Research Grant Scheme

Interactions among fungi, ants, and the ant-plant Myrmecodia beccarii

Indicative Funding
$3,000
Summary
Myrmecodia beccarii is a vulnerable endemic ant-plant of far north Queensland. This ant-plant provides ants with housing in specialised tunnels and chambers. Fungi were discovered in these chambers almost 40 years ago but their identity and functional roles have never been determined. I will explore the ecological interactions among fungi, ants and M. beccarrii to establish and define this tripartite mutualism. To do this, I will conduct field work to determine the distribution of fungal species within M.beccarii and field/greenhouse experiments to investigate the interactions and functional roles of fungi. The results will be used to inform the conservation of M. beccarri.
Investigators
Melinda Greenfield, Sandra Abell, Lori Lach and Joe Holtum (College of Science & Engineering)
Keywords
Myrmecodia beccarii (Rubiaceae); Ant-plants; Fungi; Philidris cordata (Formicidae)

Wet Tropics Management Authority - Student Research Grant Scheme

The impact of yellow crazy ants on key invertebrates, skinks and frogs of the Wet Tropics

Indicative Funding
$1,300
Summary
This project aims to increase the understanding of the effects of the invasive yellow crazy ant. This will be achieved by conducting surveys of skinks, frogs and invertebrate across a number of sites. Certain sites will have crazy ant infestations, while others will be in similar, uninvaded habitats. Data from the invaded and uninvaded sites will be compared to examine the direct and indirect effects on biodiversity and community structure that yellow crazy ants have. This will allow us to better understand the risk they pose to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.
Investigators
Dylan Case, Lori Lach and Conrad Hoskin (College of Science & Engineering)
Keywords
Yellow Crazy Ant (Formicidae); Wet Tropics World Heritage Area; Litoria myola (Hylidae); Invasive species; Community structure; Skinks (Scincidae)

Universities Australia and German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) - Australia-Germany Joint Research Cooperation Scheme

Eco-Evolutionary dynamics in the invasive ant Anoplolepis gracilipes: the role of colony fragmentation and subsequent differentiation in population regulation

Indicative Funding
$5,600
Summary
The proposed project has 3 objectives: 1) Use genotyping and behavioural assays to reveal effects of genetic diversity within and between populations of YCA from Queensland and Borneo their ecological dominance and population dynamics. 2) Test for changes in life history (e.g., production of sexuals and workers) and defense traits (worker size, venom profile) in response to increased mortality due to eradication measures or environmental conditions (competitive environment) by comparing treated and untreated YCA colonies and colonies from different regions. 3) Conduct crossbreeding experiments with colonies varying in their spatial and temporal separation to test whether spatial separation of populations, either due to eradication measures or incursions to different locations, results in reproductive isolation.
Investigators
Lori Lach and Pauline Lenancker (College of Science & Engineering)
Keywords
Yellow crazy ants (Formicidae); Wet Tropics World Heritage; reproduction; Genetic diversity; Population dynamics; Queensland

Equity Trustees - Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment

The effects of diploid male production on the colony success of the invasive tropical fire ant, Solenopsis geminata, in northern Australia

Indicative Funding
$7,000
Summary
The low genetic diversity of the invasive tropical fire ant Solenopsis geminata in northern Australia leads to the production of sterile diploid males within the population. Using next generation sequencing techniques, this research project will investigate how sterile male production affects the establishment of S. geminata and, if colony founding strategies can alleviate the potential burden of rearing sterile males. This knowledge will provide an understanding of the genetic processes affecting colony founding success in S. geminata and can be used to implement targeted management strategies. It will also improve our general understanding of invasion processes for other organisms.
Investigators
Pauline Lenancker and Lori Lach (College of Science & Engineering)
Keywords
Invasive ants; Solenopsis geminata; Formicidae); Colony founding; Diploid males; Sociogenetics; Tropical Fire Ant

Wet Tropics Management Authority - Student Research Grant Scheme

Interactions among fungi, ants, and the ant-plant Myrmecodia beccarii.

Indicative Funding
$3,993
Summary
Myrmecodia beccarii is a vulnerable endemic ant-plant of far north Queensland. This ant-plant provides ants with housing in specialised tunnels and chambers. Fungi were discovered in these chambers over 30 years ago but their identity and functional roles have never been determined. I will explore the ecological interactions between fungi, ants and M. beccarii to establish and define this tripartitie mutualism. To do this, I will conduct field work to determine the distribution of fungal species within M. beccarii and field/greenhouse experiments to investigate the interactions and functional roles of fungi. The results will be used to inform the conservation of M. beccarii.
Investigators
Melinda Greenfield, Sandra Abell, Lori Lach and Joe Holtum (College of Science & Engineering)
Keywords
Myrmecodia beccarii; Ant-plants; Fungi; Philidris cordata

Wet Tropics Management Authority - Contract Research

Yellow Crazy Ant Eradication In And Next To The Wet Tropics World Heritage Area

Indicative Funding
$178,500 over 4 years
Summary
This project aims to eradicate a recent 400ha invasion of yellow crazy ants (YCA) south of cairns which have spread from coastal cane farms into the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area (WH Area). YCA are listed among the world's 100 worst invaders and are a national priority under the Tramp Ant threat Abatement Plan. These ants can have a severe impact on a range of ecological processes and lead to significant loss of biodiversity. If their spread is left unchecked, eradication will not be possible. They will eventually threaten many of the area's endemic, rare and endangered species. The ants will also threaten the tourism industry and visitor enjoyment of the WH Area, the quality of life for local residents and agricultural productivity.
Investigators
Lori Lach in collaboration with Max Chappell, Michael Graham, Ben Hoffman, Alice Crabtree, Russell Wild and Frank Teodo (College of Science & Engineering, Wet Tropics Management Authority, Biosecurity Queensland, Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation, Conservation Volunteers Australia, Cairns City Council and Tully Canegrowers)
Keywords
Anoplolepis gracillipes (Formicidae); Wet Tropics World Heritage Rainforest; Invasive species management; Eradication

Kuranda Envirocare Inc - Contract Research

Enhancing Yellow Crazy Ant Control: Investigation of Bait Preference, Uptake, and Queen Response

Indicative Funding
$10,000
Summary
The objective of this project is to enhance the effectiveness of existing yellow crazy ant control options by determining 1) effect of IGR bait on queens, 2) effect of IGR baiting on reproductive phenology, 3) bait preference, and 4) seasonal and habitat differences in macronutrient preferences.
Investigators
Lori Lach (College of Science & Engineering)
Keywords
Anoplolepis gracillipes (Formicidae); Insect growth regulator; Invasive Species; Wet Tropics World Heritage Area; Russett Park Community Task Force; Baiting efficacy
Supervision

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

Current
  • Processes Influencing Colony Founding in the Invasive Tropical Fire Ant, Solenopsis geminata, in Northern Australia (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Interactions Among Fungi, Ants, and the Ant-plant Myrmecodia beccarii (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
Collaboration

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

Connect with me
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jcu.me/lori.lach

Email
Phone
Location
  • E1.102F, Health & Sciences (Cairns campus)
Advisory Accreditation
Primary Advisor
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