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Professor Steve Dawson

Contact DetailsSteveDawson

Office: 310 Castle Street, room 143
Tel: 64 3 479 7468
Cell: 021 276 4110

Academic Qualifications

MSc, University of Auckland
PhD, University of Canterbury

Research Interests

  • Conservation biology of marine mammals, especially Hector's dolphin
  • Incidental catch of marine mammals in fisheries
  • Acoustic behaviour and communication in cetaceans
  • Line-transect surveys for inshore cetaceans


  • MARI 302 Biology and Behaviour of Marine Vertebrates

Research Projects

  • Conservation biology and Ecology of Hector's dolphin
  • Conservation biology of Fiordland Bottlenose dolphins
  • Ecology and acoustic behaviour of sperm whales

More info:

Postgraduate Students

Tom Brough - Thesis Title (PhD):Next steps for management: population and spatial ecology of Hector's dolphins at Banks Peninsula.

Marta Guerra - Thesis Title (PhD):Habitat use and foraging ecology of a declining population of sperm whales at Kaikoura, New Zealand

David Johnston - Thesis Title (MSc):Social aspects of demographic stochasticity in an endangered population of bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

Eva Leunissen - Thesis Title (MSc): Acoustic Impact of Lyttelton Port Reconstruction

Rob Lewis - Thesis Title (MSc): Population demographics of sevengill sharks (Notorynchus cepedianus) in Paterson Inlet, Stewart Island.

Tiffany Plencner - Thesis Title (PGDipSci): Does age influence odontocete hearing ability?: A preliminary investigation of the tympanoperiotic complex in the short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus)

Tamlyn Somerford - Thesis Title (MSc):Sperm whale population dynamics and social structure

María Valdés Hernández - Thesis Title (PhD): Effect of mussel farms on Hector’s dolphin, Cephalorhynchus hectori hectori, at Banks Peninsula, New Zealand: an ecosystem perspective

Lindsay Wickman - Thesis Title (MSc):The effects of a decreasing mark rate on precision of estimates of survival rate of Hector’s dolphins

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Dawson, S. M. (2018). Cephalorhynchus dolphins: C. heavisidii, C. eutropia, C. hectori, and C. commersonii. In B. Würsig, J. G. M. Thewissen & K. M. Kovacs (Eds.), Encyclopedia of marine mammals. (3rd ed.) (pp. 166-172). London, UK: Academic Press. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-804327-1.00086-8

Forney, K. A., Southall, B. L., Slooten, E., Dawson, S., Read, A. J., Baird, R. W., & Brownell, Jr, R. L. (2017). Nowhere to go: Noise impact assessments for marine mammal populations with high site fidelity. Endangered Species Research, 32, 391-413. doi: 10.3354/esr00820

Rayment, W., Webster, T., Brough, T., Jowett, T., & Dawson, S. (2017). Seen or heard? A comparison of visual and acoustic autonomous monitoring methods for investigating temporal variation in occurrence of southern right whales. Marine Biology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s00227-017-3264-0

Johnston, D. R., Rayment, W., Slooten, E., & Dawson, S. M. (2017). A time-based method for defining associations using photo-identification. Behaviour, 154(9-10), 1029-1050. doi: 10.1163/1568539X-00003455

Steel, D., Anderson, M., Garrigue, M., Olavarría, C., Childerhouse, S., Clapham, P., … Dawson, S., … Slooten, L., … Baker, C. S. (2017). Migratory interchange of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) among breeding grounds of Oceania and connections to Antarctic feeding areas based on genotype matching. Polar Biology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s00300-017-2226-9

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