Reducing bird numbers at New Zealand airports using a unique endophyte product
Birds are a major issue for airport authorities worldwide creating hazards to operating aircraft. The effect of a species of grass, Schedonorus arundinaceus, colonised by a unique strain of the mutualistic fungal endophyte Epichloé coenophiala on bird abundance was examined during a series of trials at two New Zealand airports between 2007 and 2012. Fewer birds were observed on S. arundinaceus cv. Jackal AR601 plots compared with the original uncultivated ground cover for many months of the year across many years of trials. This corresponds with data collected by airport authorities on the number of bird strikes experienced by these airports before and after the introduction and establishment of S. arundinaceus cv. Jackal AR601. This plant-fungal association was later developed into the product known as Avanex.