Stephen Pawson



Dr Stephen Pawson (Steve) is a forest entomologist with a strong interest in protecting natural biodiversity. He has specialises in the interaction between plantation management, landscape ecology and invertebrate biodiversity. Recently Steve has been working in the interface between technology and biology with projects looking at active tracking of insects in flight, development of cyborgs for aerial odour detection, and mobile phone applications for biosecurity surveillance. Steve also supports industry efforts to develop alternative phytosanitary measures to maintain market access for New Zealand’s export wood products.


  • PhD (Zoology), University of Canterbury - 2006
  • M. Appl. Sc (1st class Hon.), Lincoln University - 2002
  • B.Sc (Conservation and Biology), Lincoln University - 2000
  • B.PRTM, Lincoln University - 1999

Research capabilities

  • Forest Entomology
  • Biodiversity and ecosystem services
  • Conservation biology
  • Quarantine and market access for export wood products
  • Forest health
  • Impacts of invasive species

Career highlights

  • Research Leader - Entomology, Scion 2011-present
  • STIMBR-PGP research programme on quarantine and market access 2011-2016
  • New Zealand Forest Owners Association Science Communication Award 2016
  • Science Advisory Board – International Quarantine Forest Research Group
  • Biosecurity 2025 Theme 2 working group member and invited speaker at the Biosecurity Forum 2016.

Selected papers

Pawson, S. M., Bader, M. K.-F., Brockerhoff, E. G., Heffernan, B., Kerr, J. K., & O'Connor, B. (2018). Thermal tolerance of phytosanitary timber pests Hylurgus ligniperda and Arhopalus ferus. Journal of Pest Science.  doi:10.1007/s10340-018-1015-8

Romo, C. M., Bader, M. K.-F., & Pawson, S. M. (2018). Quantifying insect wood-boring to improve the effectiveness of phytosanitary treatments. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata.  doi:10.1111/eea.12710.

Pawson, S.M., Marcot, B.G. & Woodberry, O.G. (2017) Predicting forest insect flight activity patterns using Bayesian networks. PLoS ONE, 12(9), e0183464

Van Haandel, A., Kerr, J.L., Laban, J., Massart, X., Murray, T.J., O’Connor, B.C., Pawson, S.M., Romo, C.M. & Walker, S. (2017) Tolerance of Hylurgus ligniperda (F.) (Coleoptera: Scolytinae) and Arhopalus ferus (Mulsant) (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) to ionising radiation: A comparison with existing generic radiation quarantine treatments. New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science, 47(18), 1-9.

Brockerhoff, E.G., Chinellato, F., Faccoli, M., Kimberley, M. & Pawson, S.M. (2017) Effects of elevation and aspect on the flight activity of two alien pine bark beetles (Coleoptera: Curculionidae, Scolytinae) in recently-harvested pine forests. Forest Ecology and Management, 384, 132-136.

Meurisse, N. & Pawson, S. (2017) Quantifying dispersal of a non-aggressive saprophytic bark beetle. Plos One, 12 (4), e0174111
Romo, C.M., Bader, M.K.F. & Pawson, S.M. (2016) Comparative growth and survival of Hylurgus ligniperda (Coleoptera: Scolytinae) and Arhopalus ferus (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) reared on artificial or natural diet at 15 or 25°C. Journal of Economic Entomology, 109, 232-239.

Sopow, S.L., Jones, T., McIvor, I., McLean, J.A. & Pawson, S.M. (2016) Potential impacts of Tuberolachnus salignus (giant willow aphid) in New Zealand and options for control. Agricultural and Forest Entomology.

Pugh, A. R., & Pawson, S. M. (2016). Short note: Artificial light at night potentially alters feeding behaviour of the native southern black-billed gull (Larus dominicanus). Notornis, 63, 37-39.

Romo, C, Bader, M K, Pawson, S M. (2015). Comparative growth and survival of Hylurgus ligniperda (Coleoptera: Scolytinae) and Arhopalus ferus (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) reared on artificial or natural diet at 15 or 25°C. Journal of Economic Entomology, 109(1), 232:239

Pawson, S. M., and M. K.-F. Bader. 2014. LED lighting increases the ecological impact of light pollution irrespective of colour temperature. Ecological Applications 24:1561-1568. (featured as a communication)

Pawson, S. M., N. Williams, I. Gear, and J. W. Armstrong. 2014. Reducing biosecurity business risks for logs and timber. New Zealand Journal of Forestry 59:36-42.

Lester, P J, Brown, S D J, Edwards, E D, Holwell, G I, Pawson, S M, Ward, D F, Watts, C H. (2014). Critical issues facing New Zealand entomology. New Zealand Entomologist 37(1), 1-13.

Pawson, S. M., A. Brin, E. G. Brockerhoff, D. Lamb, T. W. Payn, A. Paquette, and J. Parrotta. 2013. Plantation forests, climate change and biodiversity Biodiversity and Conservation 22:1203-1227.

Pawson, S. M., Brockerhoff, E. G., Watt, M. S. and Didham, R. K. (2011) Maximising biodiversity in plantation forests: insights from long-term changes in clearfell-sensitive beetles in a Pinus radiata plantation. Biological Conservation, 144, 2842-2850.

Pawson, S. M., Ecroyd, C. E., Seaton, R., Shaw, W. B. and Brockerhoff, E. G. (2010) New Zealand’s exotic plantation forests as habitats for threatened indigenous species  New Zealand Journal of Ecology, 34, 342-355.

Pawson, S. M., McCarthy, J., Ledgard, N. J. and Didham, R. K. (2010) Density-dependent impacts of exotic conifer invasion on grassland invertebrate assemblage. Journal of Applied Ecology, 47, 1053-1062.

McCarthy, J.K., Hood, I. A., Brockerhoff, E. G., Carlson, C., Pawson, S. M., Forward, M., Walbert, K. and Gardner, J. F., 2010. Predicting sapstain and degrade in fallen trees following storm damage in a Pinus radiata forest. Forest Ecology and Management 260: 1456-1466

Brockerhoff, E.G., Jactel, H., Carnus, J.M. and Pawson, S.M. (2010) The role of forest biodiversity in the sustainable use of ecosystem goods and services, In K. Okabe and I. Thompson (eds) Proceedings, International Symposium for the Convention on Biological Diversity - The role of biodiversity in the sustainable use of ecosystem goods and services in agro-forestry, fisheries, and forestry. Tokyo, Japan, April 26-28, 2010, pp. 62-70.

Pawson, S.M., Brockerhoff, E.G. & Didham, R.K. (2009) Native forest generalists dominate carabid assemblages along a stand-age chronosequence in an exotic Pinus radiata plantation. Forest Ecology and Management, 258S, S108-S116.

Pawson, S.M. & Watt, M.S. (2009) An experimental test of a visual-based push-pull strategy for control of wood boring phytosanitary pests, Agricultural and Forest Entomology 11, 239-245.

Pawson, S. M., Watt, M. S. and Brockerhoff, E.G. (2009). Using differential responses to light spectra as a monitoring and control tool for Arhopalus ferus (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) and other wood borers and bark beetles. Journal of Economic Entomology, 102(1), 79-85.

Brockerhoff, E. G., Shaw, W.B., Hock, B., Kimberley, M., Paul, T., Quinn, J., and Pawson, S.M. (2008). Re-examination of recent loss of indigenous cover in New Zealand and the relative contributions of different land uses. New Zealand Journal of Ecology, 32, 115-126.

Pawson, S.M., Brockerhoff, E.G., Meenken, E.D. and Didham, R.K. (2008) Non-native plantation forests as alternative habitat for native forest beetles in a heavily modified landscape, Biodiversity and Conservation, 17, 1127-1148.

Pawson, S.M. and Armstrong, K.F. (2007) A morphological and molecular comparison of island and mainland populations of Megadromus speciosus (Coleoptera: Carabidae) from the Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand. New Zealand Entomologist, 30, 13-24.

Pawson, S.M., Brockerhoff, E.G., Didham, R.K. and Norton, D.A. (2006) Clearfell harvest impacts on biodiversity: Past research and the search for size thresholds. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 36, 1035-1046.