Dr Maria Minor staff profile picture

Contact details +6469517833

Dr Maria Minor PhD, MSc

Senior Lecturer in Ecology / Zoology

Doctoral Supervisor
School of Agriculture and Environment

Soil ecology (focusing on ecology of soil invertebrates), systems ecology (focusing on the interactions between human land use and biodiversity) , New Zealand's Biological Heritage (focusing on diversity and conservation of native invertebarte fauna).


Contact details

  • Ph: +64 6 356 9099 ext. 84833
    Location: 116, AgHort A
    Campus: Manawatu


  • Doctor of Philosophy - State University of New York (2003)
  • Master of Science - Lomonosov Moscow State University (1993)

Certifications and Registrations

  • Licence, Supervisor, Massey University

Research Expertise

Research Interests

If you are interested in studying for postgraduate degree in Ecology, Zoology, Soil Biology, or Systems Ecology at Massey University, contact me. I will help you to achieve your goals. Examples of projects involving soil invertebrates include: soil communities and ecosystem function; impacts of land management practices on soil invertebrate biodiversity; ecology of threatened NZ invertebrates; discovery and description of new species; ecological patterns in relation to abiotic gradients.

Other aspects of research focus on interdisciplinary approach and on using quantitative techniques to study the interactions between ecological systems and our economic activities, and the exchange in energy and matter between ecosystems and their environment. Examples include: sustainability assessment at the farm and catchment level by applying the paradigm of strong (biophysical) sustainability; energy and carbon accounting, combined with other environmental indicators such as nutrient loading, biodiversity, water quality, etc.

Current and Past Postgraduate Student’s Projects:       

  • Prey choice and foraging behaviour of giant Powelliphanta snails (BSc Hons)
  • Response of soil invertebrates to pastoral management, and their links to soil services (PhD).
  • The impacts of forest fragmentation on invertebrate community composition and ecological functioning (PhD).
  • Ecology and reproductive biology of the Bronze Beetle, Eucolaspis sp (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) (PhD).
  • Reproductive behaviour and fitness trade-offs in aphid parasitoid Diaeretiella rapae (Hymenoptera: Aphidiidae) (PhD). 
  • An environmentally-based systems approach to sustainability analysis of organic fruit production systems in New Zealand (PhD).
  • Catchment-scale sustainability: trends in carbon emissions during catchment-scale land use management (MSc).
  • Effect of translocations on dispersal and foraging behaviour of giant Powelliphanta snails (MSc).
  • Optimising methods for collecting invertebrates for agricultural biodiversity assessment and monitoring (BSc Honours).


Resource Development and Management

Area of Expertise

Field of research codes
Agricultural And Veterinary Sciences (070000): Agricultural Spatial Analysis and Modelling (070104): Agricultural Systems Analysis and Modelling (070105): Agriculture, Land and Farm Management (070100):
Biological Sciences (060000): Community Ecology (060202): Ecology (060200): Invertebrate Biology (060808): Population Ecology (060207): Terrestrial Ecology (060208): Zoology (060800)


Soil Invertebrate Ecology

Invertebrate Zoology

NZ Biological Heritage - biology and conservation of native invertebrate fauna

Research Projects

Summary of Research Projects

Position Current Completed
Project Leader 0 5

Teaching and Supervision

Courses Coordinated

Graduate Supervision Statement


I'm interested in most projects that involve terrestrial invertebrates. Soil invertebrates provide a great study subject – they are present in most habitats, often in high densities, and the methods of their collection are well developed. My research in SOIL ECOLOGY focuses on native soil biodiversity; soil communities and ecosystem function; effects of environment and land use practices on soil invertebrate biodiversity; soil invertebrates as indicators of soil health.


I supervise a number of applied entomology projects on ecology, reproductive biology, behaviour, and control of insects with practical importance as pests, biocontrol agents, or alternative food sources (such as the black solder fly).

I encourage my students to use solid quantitative techniques, and to publish their research findings.

Dr Maria Minor is available for Masters and Doctorial supervision.

Summary of Doctoral Supervision

Position Current Completed
Main Supervisor 2 6
Co-supervisor 4 2

Current Doctoral Supervision

Main Supervisor of:

  • Michelle Guerrero - Doctor of Philosophy
    Environmental diversity of entomopathogenic fungi and their interactions with arthropod hosts
  • Jay Liu - Doctor of Philosophy
    Using black soldier fly Hermetia illucens L. (Diptera: Stratiomyidae) for organic waste conversion

Co-supervisor of:

  • Hansani Daluwatta Galappaththige - Doctor of Philosophy
    The impact of Gorse (Ulex europaeus) on the composition, structure and dynamics of arthropod communities in New Zealand and Sri Lanka
  • Claryssa De Oliveira Mota - Doctor of Philosophy
    A metabolomics approach for the selection of insect-resistant cultivars of Willow (Salix spp.)
  • Marcela Gonzalez - Doctor of Philosophy
    Soil carbon dynamics under elevated CO2 and its implications for carbon sequestration in grazed grasslands.
  • Godwin Gidiglo - Doctor of Philosophy

Completed Doctoral Supervision

Main Supervisor of:

  • 2020 - Kyaw Tun - Doctor of Philosophy
    Multitrophic Interactions Involving the Giant Willow Aphid, Tuberolachnus salignus (Gmelin)
  • 2020 - Stanislav Garbuz - Doctor of Philosophy
    Linking soil functional biodiversity and processes to soil ecosystem services: biochar application on two New Zealand pasture soils
  • 2018 - Cecilia Falla Mata - Doctor of Philosophy
    Ecological factors affecting the establishment of Gargaphia decoris Drake (Heteroptera: Tingidae)
  • 2012 - Prasad Doddala - Doctor of Philosophy
    Systematics of Eucolaspis (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) in New Zealand and ecology of Hawke's Bay lineage
  • 2012 - Rashmi Kant - Doctor of Philosophy
    Reproductive behaviour and fitness trade-offs in the aphid parasitoid Diaeretiella rapae (Hymenoptera: Aphidiidae)
  • 2010 - Nicole Schon - Doctor of Philosophy
    Response of soil invertebrates to pastoral management and their links to soil services

Co-supervisor of:

  • 2013 - Jessica Costall - Doctor of Philosophy
    The effects of restoration on the structure and function of litter invertebrate communities in New Zealand native forest remnants
  • 2009 - Girija Page - Doctor of Philosophy
    An environmentally-based systems approach to sustainability analyses of organic fruit production systems in New Zealand

Media and Links

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