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Prof Marcus Byrne

PROF Marcus Byrne


BSc Hons (London), MSc, PhD (Witwatersrand)

011 717 1000
No Room Number available at present
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Research Interests

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 resa469b56295a54614bd8b84dacd0f 11 for more details.

Respiratory Physiology of Beetles
See the 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 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.
Kvedaras O.L., Keeping M.G., Goebel F-R & Byrne M.J. 2007. Silicon and water stress synergy in resistance of sugarcane cultivars to the stalk borer, Eldana saccharina Walker (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae). Sugar Cane International. 25. 3-6.

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 et al 2004.pdf. 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.

resa469b56295a54614bd8b84dacd0f 11 Insect orientation to polarized moonlight. Nature. 424, (1) 33-33.

byrne et al 2003.pdf Visual Cues Used by Ball-rolling Dung beetles for Orientation. Journal of Comparative Physiology, A. 189, (6) 411-418.

byrne_duncan 2003.pdf. The role of the subelytral spiracles in respiration in the flightless dung beetle, Circellium bacchus. Journal of Experimental Biology. 206, (8) 1309-1318.

byrne et al 2002.pdf. 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_byrne 2002.pdf. Respiratory Airflow in a wingless dung beetle. Journal of Experimental Biology. 205, (16).

duncan_byrne 2000.pdf. Discontinous gas exchange in dung beetles: patterns and ecological implications. Oecologia, 11, (4). 452 - 458.