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Are Our Weeds Becoming New Native Species?

beach daisy


Introducing species to a new environment creates excellent conditions for evolution, as the species are released from their old enemies and subjected to new conditions. Research has shown that 70% of the plant species introduced to Australia have changed the way they grow since arriving here. If Australia cannot eradicate introduced species (and it seldom can), then it seems inevitable that many more species will eventually evolve to become unique new taxa. At this point, a decision needs to be made as to whether to accept them as new native species or continue trying to control them.


The Poggendorff Lecture, which is awarded periodically by the Royal Society of NSW for research in plant biology and more broadly agriculture, is named after the distinguished biologist and plant breeder, Walter Poggendorff. For 2020, the Poggendorff Lecture was awarded to Professor Angela Moles of the UNSW School of Biological, Earth, and Environmental Sciences, although the delivery of the lecture has been delayed until 2022 due to the disruption caused by the pandemic.


Professor Angela Moles is an international leader in the field of large-scale evolutionary ecology. She studies the processes that shape global patterns, and the way plants grow reproduce and interact with animals. She has a highly-cited publication record, and the innovation and quality of her work has been recognised by numerous awards.