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Associate Professor Bruce Robertson

Email bruce.robertson@otago.ac.nz

Phone 64-3-479-4110

Dr Bruce C. Robertson

Teaching

Research Interests

Current Projects

Kakapo (Strigops habroptilus)

  • Mate choice, reproductive behaviour and conservation genetics of kakapo
  • Role of genetic similarity/heterozygosity in poor hatching success
  • Immunocompetence and Mhc variation in kakapo and other large NZ parrots
  • Genetic management of kakapo recovery

Kea (Nestor notabilis)

  • Phylogeography and population genetic structure of kea
  • Genetic basis of explorative behaviour of kea

Rock wren (Xenicus gilviventris)

  • Phylogeography and population genetic structure of rock wren
  • Mating system of rock wren

Silvereye (Zosterops spp)

  • Genetic basis of winter dominance

New Zealand Dotterel (Charadrius obscurus)

  • Phylogeography of dotterels

Oceanitinae Storm-petrel and Diving-petrel

  • Microsatellite analysis of the NZ storm-petrel to examine genetic variation and population size
  • Phylogenetics of Fregetta storm-petrels
  • Phylogenetic affinities of Codfish Island Diving-petrels

Kaki (Himantopus novaezelandiae)

  • Sex allocation in captive breeding of kaki
  • MC1R gene variation in kaki hybrids

New Zealand fur seal (Arctocephalus forsteri)

  • Population genetic structure of NZ fur seals
  • Genetic assignment of NZ fur seals killed as bycatch in NZ trawl fisheries to colonies of origin

New Zealand sea lion (Phocarctos hookeri)

  • Population genetic structure of NZ sea lions
  • Fine-scale genetic structure of a breeding colony
  • Reproductive behaviour, paternity and dispersal
  • Historic population size based on DNA evidence
  • Management of sea lion bycatch in NZ deepwater fisheries

Current Postgraduate Students

  • Catherine Collins (PhD):  Ancient DNA investigation of the New Zealand sea lion Phocarctos hookeri
  • Bastien Egeter (PhD): DNA-based identification of frog predation by introduced mammalian predators
  • Stefanie Großer (PhD): Past and contemporary population genetics of little blue penguins, Eudyptula minor
  • Gabby Knafler (PhD): The application of MHC, TLR, and microsatellite markers to examine bottleneck effects in three diverse New Zealand birds
  • Nathan McNally (PhD): Survival, recruitment, and breeding behaviour of male New Zealand sea lions
  • Stefan Meyer (PhD): Modeling the impacts of fisheries bycatch on the New Zealand sea lion
  • Kalinka Rexer-Huber (PhD): White-chinned petrels Procellaria aequinoctialis: movement ecology, populationsm and provenance of bycatch.
  • Kerry Anne Weston (PhD):  Conservation of Conservation genetics of rock wren (Xenicus gilviventris)
  • Samantha Botting (MSc): A molecular test of sex for New Zealand skinks and geckos
  • Samantha Haultain (MSc): Maximising the conservation potential of the captive Otago skink (Oligosoma otagense) population.
  • Matthew Taylor (MSc): Population genetic structure of the New Zealand sea lion (Phocarctos hookeri)

Past Postgraduate Students

  • Amy Adams (PhD): Spatial ecology, resource use and population structure of common brushtail possums across an urban-rural gradient
  • Nicolas Dussex (PhD): Conservation genetics of the alpine parrot, the kea Nestor notabilis
  • Thorsten Horn (PhD, University of Canterbury): Molecular aging of kakapo
  • Elaine Leung (PhD): Ontogeny of diving and juvenile survival of threatened New Zealand sea lions Phocarctos hookeri
  • Jolene Sutton (PhD): Characterization of neutral and MHC diversity, along with malaria resistance, in New Zealand saddlebacks and robins
  • Laura Bergner (MSc): Resolving founder relationships in a genetically depauperate population of Kakapo (Strigops habroptilus) using mtDNA and microsatellite markers
  • Kaitlyn White (MSc): Inbreeding depression in the kakapo (Strigops habroptilus)
  • Ludovic Breton (PGDipSci)

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Publications

Grueber, C. E., Sutton, J. T., Heber, S., Briskie, J. V., Jamieson, I. G., & Robertson, B. C. (2017). Reciprocal translocation of small numbers of inbred individuals rescues immunogenetic diversity. Molecular Ecology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1111/mec.14063

Osborne, A. J., Negro, S. S., Chilvers, B. L., Robertson, B. C., Kennedy, M. A., & Gemmell, N. J. (2016). Genetic evidence of a population bottleneck and inbreeding in the endangered New Zealand sea lion, Phocarctos hookeri. Journal of Heredity, 107(5), 392-402. doi: 10.1093/jhered/esw015

Salis, A. T., Easton, L. J., Robertson, B. C., Gemmell, N., Smith, I. W. G., Weisler, M. I., Waters, J. M., & Rawlence, N. J. (2016). Myth or relict: Does ancient DNA detect the enigmatic Upland seal? Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution, 97, 101-106. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2015.12.012

Collins, C. J., Chilvers, B. L., Robertson, B. C., & Taylor, M. (2016). Historical population size of the threatened New Zealand sea lion Phocarctos hookeri. Journal of Mammalogy, 97(2), 436-443. doi: 10.1093/jmammal/gyv187

Holtmann, B., Grosser, S., Lagisz, M., Johnson, S. L., Santos, E. S. A., Lara, C. E., Robertson, B. C., & Nakagawa, S. (2016). Population differentiation and behavioural association of the two 'personality' genes DRD4 and SERT in dunnocks (Prunella modularis). Molecular Ecology, 25(3), 706-722. doi: 10.1111/mec.13514

Journal - Research Article

Grueber, C. E., Sutton, J. T., Heber, S., Briskie, J. V., Jamieson, I. G., & Robertson, B. C. (2017). Reciprocal translocation of small numbers of inbred individuals rescues immunogenetic diversity. Molecular Ecology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1111/mec.14063

Osborne, A. J., Negro, S. S., Chilvers, B. L., Robertson, B. C., Kennedy, M. A., & Gemmell, N. J. (2016). Genetic evidence of a population bottleneck and inbreeding in the endangered New Zealand sea lion, Phocarctos hookeri. Journal of Heredity, 107(5), 392-402. doi: 10.1093/jhered/esw015

Holtmann, B., Grosser, S., Lagisz, M., Johnson, S. L., Santos, E. S. A., Lara, C. E., Robertson, B. C., & Nakagawa, S. (2016). Population differentiation and behavioural association of the two 'personality' genes DRD4 and SERT in dunnocks (Prunella modularis). Molecular Ecology, 25(3), 706-722. doi: 10.1111/mec.13514

Collins, C. J., Chilvers, B. L., Robertson, B. C., & Taylor, M. (2016). Historical population size of the threatened New Zealand sea lion Phocarctos hookeri. Journal of Mammalogy, 97(2), 436-443. doi: 10.1093/jmammal/gyv187

Salis, A. T., Easton, L. J., Robertson, B. C., Gemmell, N., Smith, I. W. G., Weisler, M. I., Waters, J. M., & Rawlence, N. J. (2016). Myth or relict: Does ancient DNA detect the enigmatic Upland seal? Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution, 97, 101-106. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2015.12.012

Rawlence, N. J., Collins, C. J., Anderson, C. N. K., Maxwell, J. J., Smith, I. W. G., Robertson, B. C., Knapp, M., Horsburgh, K. A., Stanton, J.-A. L., Scofield, R. P., … Matisoo-Smith, E. A., & Waters, J. M. (2016). Human-mediated extirpation of the unique Chatham Islands sea lion and implications for the conservation management of remaining New Zealand sea lion populations. Molecular Ecology, 25(16), 3950-3961. doi: 10.1111/mec.13726

Sutton, J. T., Castro, I., Robertson, B. C., Tompkins, D. M., Stanton, J.-A. L., & Jamieson, I. G. (2016). MHC genetic diversity and avian malaria prevalence in Mokoia Island saddlebacks. New Zealand Journal of Ecology, 40(3), 351-360.

Dussex, N., Robertson, B. C., Salis, A. T., Kalinin, A., Best, H., & Gemmell, N. J. (2016). Low spatial genetic differentiation associated with rapid recolonization in the New Zealand fur seal Arctocephalus forsteri. Journal of Heredity, 107(7), 581-592. doi: 10.1093/jhered/esw056

Bergner, L. M., Dussex, N., Jamieson, I. G., & Robertson, B. C. (2016). European colonization, not Polynesian arrival, impacted population size and genetic diversity in the critically endangered New Zealand Kākāpō. Journal of Heredity, 107(7), 593-602. doi: 10.1093/jhered/esw065

Knafler, G. J., Ortiz-Catedral, L., Jackson, B., Varsani, A., Grueber, C. E., Robertson, B. C., & Jamieson, I. G. (2016). Comparison of beak and feather disease virus prevalence and immunity-associated genetic diversity over time in an island population of red-crowned parakeets. Archives of Virology, 161(4), 811-820. doi: 10.1007/s00705-015-2717-3

Robertson, B. C., Stephenson, B. M., Ronconi, R. A., Goldstien, S. J., Shepherd, L., Tennyson, A., … Ryan, P. G. (2016). Phylogenetic affinities of the Fregetta storm-petrels are not black and white. Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution, 97, 170-176. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2016.01.004

Sutton, J. T., Robertson, B. C., & Jamieson, I. G. (2015). MHC variation reflects the bottleneck histories of New Zealand passerines. Molecular Ecology, 24, 362-373. doi: 10.1111/mec.13039

Robertson, B. C. (2015). Is management limiting the recovery of the New Zealand sea lion Phocarctos hookeri? Polar Biology, 38(4), 539-546. doi: 10.1007/s00300-014-1619-2

Egeter, B., Bishop, P. J., & Robertson, B. C. (2015). Detecting frogs as prey in the diets of introduced mammals: A comparison between morphological and DNA-based diet analyses. Molecular Ecology Resources, 15(2), 306-316. doi: 10.1111/1755-0998.12309

Weston, K. A., & Robertson, B. C. (2015). Population structure within an alpine archipelago: Strong signature of past climate change in the New Zealand rock wren (Xenicus gilviventris). Molecular Ecology, 24(18), 4778-4794. doi: 10.1111/mec.13349

Dussex, N., Sainsbury, J., Moorhouse, R., Jamieson, I. G., & Robertson, B. C. (2015). Evidence for Bergmann's Rule and not allopatric subspeciation in the threatened Kaka (Nestor meridionalis). Journal of Heredity, 106(6), 679-691. doi: 10.1093/jhered/esv079

Dussex, N., Rawlence, N. J., & Robertson, B. C. (2015). Ancient and contemporary DNA reveal a pre-human decline but no population bottleneck associated with recent human persecution in the Kea (Nestor notabilis). PLoS ONE, 10(2), e0118522. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0118522

White, K. L., Eason, D. K., Jamieson, I. G., & Robertson, B. C. (2015). Evidence of inbreeding depression in the critically endangered parrot, the kakapo. Animal Conservation, 18(4), 341-347. doi: 10.1111/acv.12177

Meyer, S., Robertson, B. C., Chilvers, B. L., & Krkošek, M. (2015). Population dynamics reveal conservation priorities of the threatened New Zealand sea lion Phocarctos hookeri. Marine Biology, 162, 1587-1596. doi: 10.1007/s00227-015-2695-8

Rayner, M. J., Gaskin, C. P., Fitzgerald, N. B., Baird, K. A., Berg, M. M., Boyle, D., … Robertson, B. C., … Ismar, S. M. H. (2015). Using miniaturized radiotelemetry to discover the breeding grounds of the endangered New Zealand Storm Petrel Fregetta maoriana. Ibis, 157(4), 754-766. doi: 10.1111/ibi.12287

Grueber, C. E., Knafler, G. J., King, T. M., Senior, A. M., Grosser, S., Robertson, B., Weston, K. A., … Harris, C. L. W., & Jamieson, I. G. (2015). Toll-like receptor diversity in 10 threatened bird species: Relationship with microsatellite heterozygosity. Conservation Genetics, 16(3), 595-611. doi: 10.1007/s10592-014-0685-x

Leung, E. S., Chilvers, B. L., Moore, A. B., & Robertson, B. C. (2014). Do yearling New Zealand sea lions (Phocarctos hookeri) learn foraging behavior from their mothers? Marine Mammal Science, 30(3), 1220-1228. doi: 10.1111/mms.12087

Adams, A. L., van Heezik, Y., Dickinson, K. J. M., & Robertson, B. C. (2014). Identifying eradication units in an invasive mammalian pest species. Biological Invasions, 16(7), 1481-1496. doi: 10.1007/s10530-013-0586-9

Bergner, L. M., Jamieson, I. G., & Robertson, B. C. (2014). Combining genetic data to identify relatedness among founders in a genetically depauperate parrot, the Kakapo (Strigops habroptilus). Conservation Genetics, 15(5), 1013-1020. doi: 10.1007/s10592-014-0595-y

Dussex, N., Wegmann, D., & Robertson, B. C. (2014). Postglacial expansion and not human influence best explains the population structure in the endangered kea (Nestor notabilis). Molecular Ecology, 23(9), 2193-2209. doi: 10.1111/mec.12729

Rayner, M. J., Gaskin, C. P., Stephenson, B. M., Fitzgerald, N. B., Landers, T. J., Robertson, B. C., … Imber, M. J. (2014). Brood patch and sex-ratio observations indicate breeding provenance and timing in New Zealand storm-petrel Fregetta maoriana. Marine Ornithology, 41(2), 107-111.

Leung, E. S., Chilvers, B. L., Nakagawa, S., & Robertson, B. C. (2014). Size and experience matter: Diving behaviour of juvenile New Zealand sea lions (Phocarctos hookeri). Polar Biology, 37(1), 15-26. doi: 10.1007/s00300-013-1405-6

Adams, A. L., Recio, M. R., Robertson, B. C., Dickinson, K. J. M., & van Heezik, Y. (2014). Understanding home range behaviour and resource selection of invasive common brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) in urban environments. Biological Invasions, 16(9), 1791-1804. doi: 10.1007/s10530-013-0627-4

Knafler, G. J., Fiddler, A., Jamieson, I. G., & Robertson, B. C. (2014). Evidence for multiple MHC class II β loci in New Zealand's critically endangered kakapo, Strigops habroptilus. Immunogenetics, 66(2), 115-121. doi: 10.1007/s00251-013-0750-5

Weston, K. A., & Robertson, B. C. (2014). Isolation and characterisation of 14 microsatellites for the New Zealand rock wren Xenicus gilviventris. Conservation Genetics Resources, 6(1), 115-117. doi: 10.1007/s12686-013-0018-2

Collins, C. J., Rawlence, N. J., Prost, S., Anderson, C. N. K., Knapp, M., Scofield, R. P., Robertson, B. C., Smith, I., Matisoo-Smith, E. A., … Waters, J. M. (2014). Extinction and recolonization of coastal megafauna following human arrival in New Zealand. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 281, 20140097. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2014.0097

Dussex, N., & Robertson, B. C. (2013). Isolation and characterization of 8 microsatellites and for the Kea Nestor notabilis. Conservation Genetics Resources, 5(4), 1063-1065. doi: 10.1007/s12686-013-9975-8

Adams, A. L., Dickinson, K. J. M., Robertson, B. C., & van Heezik, Y. (2013). An evaluation of the accuracy and performance of lightweight GPS collars in a suburban environment. PLoS ONE, 8, e68496. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0068496

Adams, A. L., Dickinson, K. J. M., Robertson, B. C., & van Heezik, Y. (2013). Predicting summer site occupancy for an invasive species, the common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula), in an urban environment. PLoS ONE, 8(3), e58422. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058422

Osborne, A. J., Zavodna, M., Chilvers, B. L., Robertson, B. C., Negro, S. S., Kennedy, M. A., & Gemmell, N. J. (2013). Extensive variation at MHC DRBin the New Zealand sea lion (Phocarctos hookeri) provides evidence for balancing selection. Heredity, 111, 44-56. doi: 10.1038/hdy.2013.18

Barth, J. M. I., Matschiner, M., & Robertson, B. C. (2013). Phylogenetic position and subspecies divergence of the endangered New Zealand Dotterel (Charadrius obscurus). PLoS ONE, 8(10), e78068. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0078068

Leung, E. S., Chilvers, B. L., Moore, A. B., & Robertson, B. C. (2013). Mass and bathymetry influences on the foraging behaviour of dependent yearling New Zealand sea lions (Phocarctos hookeri). New Zealand Journal of Marine & Freshwater Research, 47(1), 38-50. doi: 10.1080/00288330.2012.732584

Sutton, J. T., Robertson, B. C., Grueber, C. E., Stanton, J.-A. L., & Jamieson, I. G. (2013). Characterization of MHC class II B polymorphism in bottlenecked New Zealand saddlebacks reveals low levels of genetic diversity. Immunogenetics, 65(8), 619-633. doi: 10.1007/s00251-013-0708-7

Leung, E. S., Chilvers, B. L., Nakagawa, S., Moore, A. B., & Robertson, B. C. (2012). Sexual segregation in juvenile New Zealand sea lion foraging ranges: Implications for intraspecific competition, population dynamics and conservation. PLoS ONE, 7(9), e45389. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0045389

Robertson, B. C., & Goldstien, S. J. (2012). Phylogenetic affinities of the New Zealand blue duck (Hymenolaimus malacorhynchos). Notornis, 59(1-2), 49-59.

Torres, L. G., Thompson, D. R., Bearhop, S., Votier, S., Taylor, G. A., Sagar, P. M., & Robertson, B. C. (2011). White-capped albatrosses alter fine-scale foraging behavior patterns when associated with fishing vessels. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 428, 289-301. doi: 10.3354/meps09068

Robertson, B. C., & Chilvers, B. L. (2011). The population decline of the New Zealand sea lion Phocarctos hookeri: A review of possible causes. Mammal Review, 41(4), 253-275. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2907.2011.00186.x

Sutton, J. T., Nakagawa, S., Robertson, B. C., & Jamieson, I. G. (2011). Disentangling the roles of natural selection and genetic drift in shaping variation at MHC immunity genes. Molecular Ecology, 20(21), 4408-4420. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2011.05292.x

Horn, T., Robertson, B. C., Will, M., Eason, D. K., Elliott, G. P., & Gemmell, N. J. (2011). Inheritance of telomere length in a bird. PLoS ONE, 6(2), e17199. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0017199

Sutton, J. T., Robertson, B. C., & Jamieson, I. G. (2011). Dye shift: A neglected source of genotyping error in molecular ecology. Molecular Ecology Resources, 11(3), 514-520. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-0998.2011.02981.x

Robertson, B. C., Stephenson, B. M., & Goldstien, S. J. (2011). When rediscovery is not enough: Taxonomic uncertainty hinders conservation of a critically endangered bird. Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution, 61, 949-952. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2011.08.001

Horn, T., Robertson, B. C., & Gemmell, N. J. (2010). The use of telomere length in ecology and evolutionary biology. Heredity, 105(6), 497-506. doi: 10.1038/hdy.2010.113

Caudron, A. K., Negro, S. S., Fowler, M., Boren, L., Poncin, P., Robertson, B. C., & Gemmell, N. J. (2009). Alternative mating tactics in the New Zealand fur seal (Arctocephalus forsteri): When non-territorial males are successful too. Australian Journal of Zoology, 57(6), 409-421. doi: 10.1071/ZO09024

Robertson, B. C., Frauenfelder, N., Eason, D. K., Elliott, G., & Moorhouse, R. (2009). Thirty polymorphic microsatellite loci from the critically endangered kakapo (Strigops habroptilus). Molecular Ecology Resources, 9(2), 664-666. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-0998.2008.02506.x

Abdelkrim, J., Robertson, B. C., Stanton, J.-A. L., & Gemmell, N. J. (2009). Fast, cost-effective development of species-specific microsatellite markers by genomic sequencing. Biotechniques, 46(3), 185-192. doi: 10.2144/000113084

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