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Dr Cunningham’s early research focused on the way in which animals influence the reproductive success of plants, including positive contributions from the pollination of flowers, and negative effects of animals that eat flowers and fruits.
More recently Dr Cunningham and his colleagues have examined the effects of habitat fragmentation on reproduction by plants and the effects of plant density on pollen movement.
Pollinators are also important for their role in pollinating crops used by people.
Dr Cunningham and his collaborators have worked on pollination of fruit and nut crops in tropical Queensland, broadacre canola and Faba beans in southern Australia, and Almond orchards.
He has also been part of a global network of researchers examining the role of crop pollinators in world food production.
This group has assessed the possible impacts of declining wild and managed pollinator populations.
The work is increasingly important in Australia, where the Varroa mite poses a serious threat to honeybee populations.
Dr Cunningham is also interested in understanding how landscapes can be managed to maximise the long term sustainability of insect communities and the vegetation they interact with.
The overarching goal of his work is to understand how to manage productive landscapes that meet our agricultural needs, protect biodiversity, and provide ecosystem services to society.
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