ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Dr Manu Saunders

Dr Manu Saunders

Dr Manu Saunders is an early-career ecologist and also has a background in literature, history and communications. Her broad research interests are agroecology, landscape and community ecology, and terrestrial insects. Manu has a diverse work history, including roles in corporate communications, media, research and agriculture. She has also taught at the undergraduate level at CSU's School of Environmental Sciences. She is currently researching ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes, with particular focus on services provided by insects and birds, such as pollination and biological control.

Bachelor of Arts (English literature; Journalism) University of Queensland, 2001
Bachelor of Environmental Sciences, Hons (Ecology) University of Queensland, 2008
Doctor of Philosophy, Charles Sturt University, 2014

Thesis: Wild pollinator communities of commercial almond plantations and native woodland in a semi-arid Australian landscape: implications for conservation of insects and ecosystem services

Strategic Research Areas

  • Biodiversity Conservation 


Ecological Society of Australia

Australian Entomological Society

Royal Entomological Society

Selected Papers

Peer Reviewed Papers

Saunders, M.E. & Luck, G.W. (2016) Combining costs and benefits of animal activities to assess net yield outcomes in apple orchards. PLOS One. 11(7): e0158618

Saunders, M.E. & Luck, G.W. (2016) Limitations of the ecosystem services versus disservices dichotomy. Conservation Biology. DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12740

Smith, T.J. & Saunders, M.E.  (2016) Honey bees: the queens of mass media, despite minority rule among insect pollinators. Insect Conservation and Diversity. doi: 10.1111/icad.12178 

Peisley, R.K., Saunders, M.E. & Luck, G.W. (2016) Cost-benefit trade-offs of bird activity in apple orchards, PeerJ. DOI: 10.7717/peerj.2179

Saunders, M. E., Peisley, R.K., Rader, R. & Luck, G.W. (2016) Pollinators, pests and predators: recognising ecological trade-offs in agroecosystems. Ambio 45, 4-14.

Peisley, R.K., Saunders, M.E. & Luck, G.W. (2015) A systematic review of the benefits and costs of bird and insect activity in agroecosystems.Springer

Saunders, M.E. (2015) Stone structures as potential aggregation sites for coccinellids in managed landscapes. The Victorian Naturalist 132:86.88

Luck, G.W. & Saunders, M.E. (2015). Nature – how do I value thee? Let me count the ways. Wildlife Australia, Autumn, 38-39

Saunders, M.E. (2015) Lost in a floral desert, Wildlife Australia, Autumn, 10-13

Saunders, M.E.(2015) Resource connectivity for beneficial insects in landscapes dominated by monoculture tree crop plantations. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability 

Saunders, M.E., Luck, G.W., (2014) Spatial and temporal variation in pollinator community structure relative to a woodland-almond plantation edge. Agricultural and Forest Entomology, doi: 10.1111/afe.12067

Luck, G.W., Spooner, P.G., Watson, D.M., Watson, S.J., Saunders, M.E. (2014) Interactions between almond plantations and native ecosystems: lessons learned from north-western Victoria. Ecological Management and Restoration 15:4-15.

Saunders, M.E., Luck, G.W., Mayfield, M.M. (2013) Almond orchards with living ground cover host more wild insect pollinators. Journal of Insect Conservation, 17:1011-1025.

Saunders, M.E., Luck, G.W., (2013) Pan trap catches of pollinator insects vary with habitat. Australian Journal of Entomology, 52:106-113.

Dhileepan, K., Trevino, M., Bayliss, D., Saunders, M., McCarthy, J., Shortus, M., Walter, G. (2010) Introduction and establishment of Carvalhotingis visenda (Hemiptera: Tingidae) as a biological control agent for cat's claw creeper Macfadyena unguis-cati (Bignoniaceae) in Australia. Biological Control, 55:58-62.

Book Chapters

Saunders, M., Cunningham, S. & Rader, R. (2-016)   Chapter 3. Agricultural Beescapes in Australian Native Bees, AgGuide series published by NSW Department of Primary Industries.


Saunders, M.E. (2016) Out There: Beyond the birds and the bees, Wildlife Australia. (Winter) 4-6

Conference Papers

Saunders, M. (2015) Net outcomes of ecological interactions between arthropods and crops, at Ecological Society of Australia Annual Conference, Nov 29 to Dec 3, Adelaide, South AustraliaSaunders, M.(2105) Costs vs benefits of birds and insects in agricultural landscapes. Case study: Victorian apple orchards.6th Biodiversity Across the Borders Conference 2015, Federation University, Ballarat, June 12.

Saunders,M. (2015) Lost in a floral desert, pp 246-250 in Nogrady,B. (Ed) The Best Australian Science Writing 2015, Newsouth Books, UNSW, Sydney

Current Projects

Predicting the delivery of ecosystem services in agriculture landscapes, Luck, G. (2014-2017) ARC Discovery grant, $360,000 Project details