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.


Current Research Projects (see also Current Funding tab)

  • Scientific support and research for the Yellow Crazy Ant Eradication Program run by the Wet Tropics Management Authority (monitoring effects on non-target species, permit compliance, improving detection methods)
  • Investigating the role of pheromones in yellow crazy ant behavior
  • Converting food waste into insect protein
  • Environmental Impact Categorization for Alien Taxa

Post-graduate and Honours inquiries

I currently supervise 2 PhD candidates, an MPhil student, and an Honours student. See the Supervision tab for further details.

If you are interested in applying to be part of my lab as an MPhil or PhD student, please visit the Graduate Research School website to familiarize yourself with entry requirements and applicationa and scholarship deadlines. Please email me with a statement of your research interests, your CV, and your motivation for pursuing a degree.

If you are interested in studying for an Honours, Masters, or PhD degree with me, I specialize in the following areas:

  • effects of biological invasions, particularly insects
  • plant-insect interactions, especially as they affect conservation or agriculture
  • ant ecology
  • ecological effects of bee disease

 Most recent media coverage/interviews

  • BZ2480: Restoration Ecology (Level 2; CNS)
  • BZ3225: Technological Applications in Ecology (Level 3; CNS)
  • BZ3235: Biological Invasions (Level 3; CNS)
  • BZ5225: Technological Applications in Ecology (Level 5; CNS)
  • BZ5235: Biological Invasions (Level 5; CNS)
  • BZ5480: Restoration Ecology (Level 5; CNS)
  • SC1101: Science, Technology and Truth (Level 1; CNS)
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 2018 - Peer Review Award on Publons for being in the top 1% of reviewers who performed verified pre-publications reviews in the Ecology/Environment field.
  • 2018 - TropEco Award, Research Category Highly Commended for outstanding research activities that contribute to a more sustainable society and environment.
  • 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
  • 2013 to 2016 - ARC DECRA Fellowship

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

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 35+ research outputs authored by A/Prof Lori Lach from 2000 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Kuranda Envirocare Inc - Contract Research

Yellow crazy ant biology and novel control methodologies

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

Department of Industry, Innovation and Science - Innovations Connections

Black soldier fly production to convert food waste into protein-rich animal feed

Indicative Funding
$17,659 , in partnership with Murray Farming Pty Ltd ($17,659)
We will evaluate methods of black soldier fly production that have been successful elsewhere and adapt them to the tropical conditions of northern Australia; and evaluate the effects of food source on the growth rates of black soldier fly populations.
Lori Lach, Paul Nelson and Stuart Biggs (College of Science & Engineering)
black soldier fly Hermetia illucens; Food Waste; Nutrition; insect protein; sustainable food production; Growth Rate

Wet Tropics Management Authority - Contract Research

Research to Inform Yellow Crazy Ant Management in the Wet Tropics

Indicative Funding
$782,894 over 3 years
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.
Lori Lach (College of Science & Engineering)
Yellow crazy ants (Formicidae); Wet Tropics World Heritage Area; Detection; Nest Structure; Population Dynamics; Baiting

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
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.
Lori Lach and Pauline Lenancker (College of Science & Engineering)
Yellow crazy ants (Formicidae); Wet Tropics World Heritage; reproduction; Genetic diversity; Population dynamics; Queensland

Wet Tropics Management Authority - Student Research Grant Scheme

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

Indicative Funding
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.
Melinda Greenfield, Sandra Abell, Lori Lach and Joe Holtum (College of Science & Engineering)
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
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.
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)
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
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.
Lori Lach (College of Science & Engineering)
Anoplolepis gracillipes (Formicidae); Insect growth regulator; Invasive Species; Wet Tropics World Heritage Area; Russett Park Community Task Force; Baiting efficacy

Advisory Accreditation:

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.

  • Interactions Among Fungi, Ants, and the Ant-plant Myrmecodia beccarii (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Biological processes influencing the success of invasive ants;; (2019, PhD , Primary Advisor)

These are the most recent metadata records associated with this researcher. To see a detailed description of all dataset records, visit the JCU Research Data Catalogue.


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)

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  • E1.102F, Health & Sciences (Cairns campus)
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