My research interests are in the following areas of entomology:
Biological Control of Invasive Weeds
We have a group of students at Wits who are engaged in post-release of evaluation of insects used as biological control agents against invasive weeds. The Water Research Commission funds collaborative project with Prof Martin Hill from Rhodes University and Dr Mark Robertson from Pretoria University respectively, to develop an Integrated Pest Management programme to control water hyacinth in South Africa.
See Research for more details.
Respiratory Physiology of Beetles
See the Beetle Respiratory Physiology page for more information
Visual orientation in Dung-breeding Scarabs
I got hooked on scarabs in the 1980s, at the CSIRO Dung Beetle Unit in Pretoria. I collaborate with Prof Clarke Scholtz of Pretoria University and Prof Eric Warrant and Dr Marie Dacke of Lund University Sweden, on orientation behaviour in dung beetles. We have a great time working with these fascinating creatures.
See www.nature.com/nature/journal/v424/n6944/abs/424033a.html for an example of our work.
Habitat Management for Control of Insect Pests
Allied to the weed biocontrol research, I have established a relationship with Dr Des Conlong and Dr Malcolm Keeping of the South African Sugar Research Institute (SASRI). Together we are developing methods for controlling insect pests in sugarcane. One aspect is exploring Push-Pull (Stimulo- Deterrent Diversion) control of the stalk borer Eldana saccharina in sugarcane, using plant volatiles to control this pest.
Kvedaras O.L., Keeping M.G., Goebel R. & Byrne M. In press. Eldana saccharina Walker (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) larval performance and stalk damage in sugarcane: influence of plant silicon and feeding site. International Journal of Pest Management.
Nadel, R.L., Scholes, M.C., Byrne, M.J. In press. Slash burning, faunal composition and their effects on nutrient dynamics in an Eucalyptus grandis plantation in South Africa. Canadian Journal of Forestry Research
Ajuonu, O., Byrne, M., Hill, M., Neuenschwander, P., and Korie, S. In press. Survival of the mirid Eccritotarsus catarinensis as influenced by Neochetina eichhorniae and Neochetina bruchi feeding scars on leaves of water hyacinth Eichhornia crassipes. BioControl.
Kvedaras O.L., Keeping M.G., Goebel F-R & Byrne M.J. 2007. Water stress augments silicon-mediated resistance of susceptible sugarcane cultivars to the stalk borer, Eldana saccharina Walker (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae). Bulletin of Entomological Research. 97. 1-9.Coetzee, J.A., Byrne, M. J., Hill. M. P., 2007. Impact of nutrients and herbivory by Eccritotarsus catarinensis on the biological control of water hyacinth, Eichhornia crassipes Authors: Aquatic Botany. 86. 179-186.
Duncan, F. D., & Byrne, M.J. 2005. The role of the mesothoracic spiracles in respiration in flighted and flightless dung beetles. Journal of Experimental Biology. 208. 907-914.
Coetzee J.A., Center, T.D., Byrne, M.J. & Hill, M.P. 2005. The impact of the biocontrol agent Eccritotarsus catarinensis, a sap-feeding mirid, on the competitive performance of water hyacinth . Biological Control. 32. 90-96.
Haywood LK., Alexander,G.J., Byrne, M.J. & Cukrowska, E. 2004. Xenopus laevis embryos and tadpoles as models for testing for pollution by zinc, copper, lead and cadmium. African Zoology. 39. 163-174.Dacke, M., Byrne, M.J., Scholtz, C. H., & Warrant, E. J. 2004. Lunar orientation in a beetle. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B. 271. 361?365.
McConnachie, A.J., Hill. M.P., and Byrne, M.J. 2004. Field assessment of a frond-feeding weevil, a successful biological control agent of red waterfern, Azolla filiculoides Lamarck (Azollaceae), in southern Africa. Biological Control. 29. 326-331.
Coetzee, J., Byrne, M., and Hill, M. 2003. Failure of Eccritotarsus catarinensis, a biological control agent of water hyacinth, to persist on pickerelweed, a non-target host in South Africa, after forced establishment. Biological Control. 28. 229-236.
McConnachie, A.J., de Wit, M.P., Hill. M.P., and Byrne, M.J. 2003. Economic evaluation on the biological control of Azolla filiculoides in South Africa. Biological Control. 28. 25-32.
Dacke, M., Nilsson, D. -E., Scholtz, C. H., Byrne, M. J., & Warrant, E. J. 2003 Insect orientation to polarized moonlight. Nature. 424, (1) 33-33.
Byrne, M.J. Dacke, M., Nordstr?P. Scholtz. C., and Warrant, E. 2003. Visual Cues Used by Ball-rolling Dung beetles for Orientation. Journal of Comparative Physiology, A. 189, (6) 411-418.
Byrne, M.J. & Duncan F.D. 2003. The role of the subelytral spiracles in respiration in the flightless dung beetle, Circellium bacchus. Journal of Experimental Biology. 206, (8) 1309-1318.
Byrne M.J., Currin, S., & Hill, M.P. 2002. The influence of climate on the establishment and success of the biocontrol agent, Gratiana spadicea released on Solanum sisymbriifolium in South Africa. Biological Control. 24, (2) 128-134.
Duncan, F. D., & Byrne, M.J. 2002. Respiratory Airflow in a wingless dung beetle. Journal of Experimental Biology. 205, (16).
Duncan, F. D., & Byrne, M.J. 2000. Discontinous gas exchange in dung beetles: patterns and ecological implications. Oecologia, 11, (4). 452 - 458.