Dr Helen Nahrung | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Dr Helen Nahrung

PhD Tas., BSc(Hons) Qld.

  • Senior Research Fellow, Forest Research Institute
+61 7 3708 8482
Office location
Sunshine Coast

Dr Helen Nahrung has over twenty years' experience in insect biology and ecology towards sustainable pest management methods in plantation forestry. Her research focus is primarily in forest invasion biology of exotic pests in Australia, and Australian native insects that have become invasive overseas. She also works on insect–plant co-evolutionary interactions, including host location mechanisms and host defence.

Helen was one of the last Honours graduates from the Department of Entomology at The University of Queensland. She worked for four years on weed biocontrol at the Alan Fletcher Research Station, and moved to Hobart in 1999 where she completed her PhD through the University of Tasmania and Cooperative Research Centre for Sustainable Production Forestry on one of the state’s most serious hardwood pests. She then undertook a postdoctoral fellowship at Queensland University of Technology, also in the field of forest entomology, and subsequently worked for six years on hardwood plantation pests with the Queensland Department of Primary Industries in the Forest Health Group. She has been at the University of the Sunshine Coast since early 2012, where she specialises in invasive forest pest prevention and management. Her expertise is in insect–plant interactions, but she has also worked extensively with natural enemies, development of predictive population models, and insect reproductive ecology. She is also interested in the applied use of semiochemicals/chemical ecology for pest monitoring and management, as well as examining drivers of insect invasions, particularly of forest pests.

Helen works between the UniSC Sunshine Coast and the EcoSciences Precinct in Brisbane on several projects in hardwood, softwood and high-value timber plantations from Stanthorpe to the tropics, including chemical and landscape ecology, invasion characteristics, biological control, and population modelling.


Research grants
Project                                                     Investigators          Funding body                        Year              Focus of research
Biological invasions in forestry: drivers & mitigation for industry and biosecurity Nahrung H Advance Queensland, DAF, HQPlantations, NSCC, PHA, FWPA, 2019-2022 Manage current and emerging invasive forest pests; identify drivers of forest pest invasions; optimise surveillance strategies.
Profiling nematodes for improvement of Sirex biocontrol Nahrung H, Carnegie A FWPA, NSCC 2020-2022 Predict and mitigate impact of a new invasive softwood pest in subtropical conditions and novel taxa
Biocontrol of eucalypt pests in Mekong region Lawson S, Douangboupha B, Nahrung H, Griffiths M Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research 2014–2019 Improving eucalypt productivity through biocontrol of key Australian pests
Current PhD students
  • Natalia Medieros de Souza: " Gonipterus weevils and their chemo-ecological relationship with eucalypt hosts".
  • Ngoc Hoan Le: " Australian Megastigmus (Hymenoptera: Megastigmidae) associates of eucalypt galls as potential biocontrol agents of Leptocybe spp. (Hymenoptera: eulophidae)".
  • Matthew Manwaring: "Mesostigmatid mites as predators of nematodes in sugarcane soils: occurrence ecology, food preference and biocontrol potential".
  • Flavia Sarti-Bonara: " Studies of plant interaction with pests and pathogens in Corymbia species and hybrids".
  • Firehiwot Eshetu: "Petri-dish Australasia: Sirex noctilio/Amylostereum areolatum/Deladenus siricidicola as a model system to study micro-evolutionary processes in invasion and biological control" (University of Pretoria).

Research areas

  • Insect–plant interactions
  • Insect chemical and reproductive ecology
  • Invasion biology
  • Insect behaviour and physiology

Recent key publications of Dr Helen Nahrung include:

  • Nahrung HF & Carnegie AJ (2020) Non-native forest insects and pathogens in Australia: establishment, spread and impact. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change
  • Nahrung HF (2017) Sirex noctilio (Hymenoptera: Siricidae): revisiting some past perceptions. Austral Entomology 56: 148-152.
  • Nahrung HF, Loch AD & Matsuki M (2016) Invasive insects in Mediterranean Forest Systems: Australia. In Insects and Diseases of Mediterranean Forest Systems (eds T. Paine & F. Lieutier) pp. 431-454. Springer.
  • Nahrung HF, Lewis A, Ridenbaugh R, Allen GR, Reid CAM, McDougal R, Withers TM (in press) Expansion of the geographic range of the eucalypt pest Paropsisterna cloelia (Stål) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) through synonymy and inter- and intra-country invasion. Austral Entomology.
  • Nahrung HF & Swain AJ (2015) Strangers in a strange land: do coloniser traits in novel environments differ between aliens and natives? Biological Invasions 17: 699-709.

Dr Helen Nahrung's area of expertise includes insect–plant interactions, biology, physiology, ecology.

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