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Professor Bruce Robertson

Email bruce.robertson@otago.ac.nz

Tel +64 3 479 4110

Bruce Robertson

Teaching

Research Interests

Current and Potential Projects

Kakapo (Strigops habroptilus)

  • Mate choice, reproductive behaviour and conservation genomics 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 wild and captive 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

  • Yasmin Foster (PhD) Genetic aging and genomic analysis of the kakapo Strigops habroptilus
  • Melanie Young (PhD) Coping with nutritional stress: diet, dispersal and plasticity in the foraging strategies of hōiho/yellow-eyed penguins (Megadyptes antipodes)
  • Denise Martini (PhD) Conservation genomics of the kaka

Past Postgraduate Students

  • Luke Easton (PhD) Phylogeography of New Zealand native frogs.
  • Ann-Kathrin Schlesselmann (PhD) Population genetic structure of the New Zealand black-fronted tern.
  • Kalinka Rexer-Huber (PhD) White-chinned petrels Procellaria aequinoctialis: movement ecology, populations and provenance of bycatch.
  • Carlos Esteban Lara (PhD) Maternal effects and offspring quality in the dunnock.
  • Gabby Knafler (PhD) The application of MHC, TLR, and microsatellite markers to examine bottleneck effects in three diverse New Zealand birds.
  • Stefanie Grosser (PhD) Past and contemporary population genetics of little blue penguins, Eudyptula minor.
  • Stefan Meyer (PhD) Population modeling of New Zealand sea lions Phocarctos hookeri at the Auckland Islands, New Zealand - Estimating the population’s current status, future trends and management options.
  • Benedikt Holtmann (PhD) Personality in a species with variable mating systems, the dunnock.
  • Kerry Anne Weston (PhD) Conservation genetics of the rock wren.
  • Bastian Egeter (PhD) Molecular detection of mammalian predation of frogs.
  • Catherine Collins (PhD) Temporal genetic analyses on Phocarctos sea lions.
  • Nicolas Dussex (PhD) Conservation genetics of the alpine parrot, kea Nestor notabilis.
  • Jolene Sutton (PhD) Characterization of neutral and MHC diversity, along with malaria resistance, in New Zealand saddlebacks and robins.
  • Amy Adams (PhD) Spatial ecology, resource use and population structure of the common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) across an urban-rural gradient.
  • Elaine Leung (PhD) Ontogeny of diving and juvenile survival of threatened New Zealand sea lions Phocarctos hookeri.
  • Thorsten Horn (PhD) Molecular aging of vertebrates.
  • Nathan McNally (PhD) Survival, recruitment, mass estimates and breeding behaviour/tenure of male New Zealand sea lions, Phocarctos hookeri, at Enderby Island, Auckland Islands.

  • Samanthan Haultain (MSc) Inbreeding depression in captive Otago skinks.
  • Tristan Rawlence (MSc) Response of alpine rock wren to predator control.
  • Claudia Mischler (MSc) Conservation genetics of the endangered black billed gull.
  • Imogen Foote (MSc) Genetic basis of personality in the New Zealand sea lion.
  • Meghan Milner-Jones (MSc) Conservation genetics of kokako.
  • Emma Kelman (MSc) Bioacoustic analysis of the kakapo.
  • Clare Cross (MSc) Feral cats in New Zealand.
  • Samantha Botting (MSc) Sexing New Zealand skinks.
  • Laura Berger (MSc) Female kakapo lineages: population structure and pedigree reconstruction.
  • Kaitlyn White (MSc) Inbreeding depression in the kakapo.
  • Kristina Thompson (MSc) Mate choice and reproductive success of the kakapo.
  • Matthew Taylor (MSc) Population genetic structure of the New Zealand sea lion (Phocarctos hookeri)

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Publications

Young, M. J., Dutoit, L., Robertson, F., Seddon, P. J., & Robertson, B. C. (2020). Species in the faeces: DNA metabarcoding as a method to determine the diet of the endangered yellow-eyed penguin. Wildlife Research, 47(6), 509-522. doi: 10.1071/wr19246

Schlesselmann, A.-K. V., Dussex, N., Cooper, J., Monks, J. M., O'Donnell, C. F. J., & Robertson, B. C. (2020). Contrasting patterns of population structure at large and fine geographical scales in a migratory avian disturbance specialist of braided river ecosystems. Diversity & Distributions, 26, 16-33. doi: 10.1111/ddi.12994

Lara, C. E., Grueber, C. E., Holtmann, B., Santos, E. S. A., Johnson, S. L., Robertson, B. C., … Nakagawa, S. (2020). Assessment of the dunnocks’ introduction to New Zealand using innate immune-gene diversity. Evolutionary Ecology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s10682-020-10070-0

Schlesselmann, A.-K. V., & Robertson, B. C. (2020). Longevity can mask low Nb if only Ne of mixed-age samples is estimated in threatened and mobile species [Short communication]. Conservation Genetics. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s10592-020-01277-3

Verry, A. J. F., Scarsbrook, L., Scofield, R. P., Tennyson, A. J. D., Weston, K. A., Robertson, B. C., & Rawlence, N. J. (2019). Who, where, what, wren? Using ancient DNA to examine the veracity of museum specimen data: A case study of the New Zealand rock wren (Xenicus gilviventris). Frontiers in Ecology & Evolution, 7, 496. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2019.00496

Journal - Research Article

Young, M. J., Dutoit, L., Robertson, F., Seddon, P. J., & Robertson, B. C. (2020). Species in the faeces: DNA metabarcoding as a method to determine the diet of the endangered yellow-eyed penguin. Wildlife Research, 47(6), 509-522. doi: 10.1071/wr19246

Lara, C. E., Grueber, C. E., Holtmann, B., Santos, E. S. A., Johnson, S. L., Robertson, B. C., … Nakagawa, S. (2020). Assessment of the dunnocks’ introduction to New Zealand using innate immune-gene diversity. Evolutionary Ecology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s10682-020-10070-0

Schlesselmann, A.-K. V., Dussex, N., Cooper, J., Monks, J. M., O'Donnell, C. F. J., & Robertson, B. C. (2020). Contrasting patterns of population structure at large and fine geographical scales in a migratory avian disturbance specialist of braided river ecosystems. Diversity & Distributions, 26, 16-33. doi: 10.1111/ddi.12994

Verry, A. J. F., Scarsbrook, L., Scofield, R. P., Tennyson, A. J. D., Weston, K. A., Robertson, B. C., & Rawlence, N. J. (2019). Who, where, what, wren? Using ancient DNA to examine the veracity of museum specimen data: A case study of the New Zealand rock wren (Xenicus gilviventris). Frontiers in Ecology & Evolution, 7, 496. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2019.00496

Dussex, N., von Seth, J., Knapp, M., Kardailsky, O., Robertson, B. C., & Dalén, L. (2019). Complete genomes of two extinct New Zealand passerines show responses to climate fluctuations but no evidence for genomic erosion prior to extinction. Biology Letters, 15(9), 20190491. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2019.0491

Egeter, B., Roe, C., Peixoto, S., Puppo, P., Easton, L. J., Pinto, J., Bishop, P. J., & Robertson, B. C. (2019). Using molecular diet analysis to inform invasive species management: A case study of introduced rats consuming endemic New Zealand frogs. Ecology & Evolution, 9, 5032-5048. doi: 10.1002/ece3.4903

Rexer-Huber, K., Veale, A. J., Catry, P., Cherel, Y., Dutoit, L., Foster, Y., … Waters, J., & Robertson, B. C. (2019). Genomics detects population structure within and between ocean basins in a circumpolar seabird: The white-chinned petrel. Molecular Ecology, 28, 4552-4572. doi: 10.1111/mec.15248

Dussex, N., von Seth, J., Robertson, B. C., & Dalén, L. (2018). Full Mitogenomes in the Critically Endangered Kakapo Reveal Major Post-Glacial and Anthropogenic Effects on Neutral Genetic Diversity. Genes, 9, 220. doi: 10.3390/genes9040220

Stoffel, M. A., Humble, E., Paijmans, A. J., Acevedo-Whitehouse, K., Chilvers, B. L., Dickerson, B., … Gemmell, N. J., … Robertson, B. C., … Hoffmann, J. I. (2018). Demographic histories and genetic diversity across pinnipeds are shaped by human exploitation, ecology and life-history. Nature Communications, 9(1), 4836. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-06695-z

Schlesselmann, A.-K. V., O'Donnell, C. F., Monks, J. M., & Robertson, B. C. (2018). Clearing islands as refugia for black-fronted tern (Chlidonias albostriatus) breeding colonies in braided rivers. New Zealand Journal of Ecology, 42(2), 137-148. doi: 10.20417/nzjecol.42.23

Dussex, N., & Robertson, B. C. (2018). Contemporary effective population size and predicted maintenance of genetic diversity in the endangered kea (Nestor notabilis). New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 45(1), 13-28. doi: 10.1080/03014223.2017.1325381

Mischler, C., Veale, A., van Stijn, T., Brauning, R., McEwan, J. C., Maloney, R., & Robertson, B. (2018). Population connectivity and traces of mitochondrial introgression in New Zealand black-billed gulls (Larus bulleri). Genes, 9(11), 544. doi: 10.3390/genes9110544

Foote, I., Godfrey, S. S., & Robertson, B. C. (2018). Mate choice explains high genetic diversity in a small founding population of the New Zealand sea lion (Phocarctos hookeri). Australian Journal of Zoology, 66, 343-351. doi: 10.1071/ZO19023

Schlesselmann, A.-K. V., & Robertson, B. C. (2017). Isolation and characterization of 18 polymorphic microsatellite loci for the endangered New Zealand Black-fronted Tern (Chlidonias albostriatus). Waterbirds, 40(3), 297-301. doi: 10.1675/063.040.0311

Grosser, S., Abdelkrim, J., Wing, J., Robertson, B. C., & Gemmell, N. J. (2017). Strong isolation by distance argues for separate population management of endangered blue duck (Hymenolaimus malacorhynchos). Conservation Genetics, 18(2), 327-341. doi: 10.1007/s10592-016-0908-4

Collins, C. J., Chilvers, B. L., Osborne, A., Taylor, M., & Robertson, B. C. (2017). Unique and isolated: Population structure has implications for management of the endangered New Zealand sea lion. Conservation Genetics, 18(5), 1177-1189. doi: 10.1007/s10592-017-0969-z

Meyer, S., Robertson, B. C., Chilvers, B. L., & Krkošek, M. (2017). Marine mammal population decline linked to obscured by-catch. PNAS, 114(44), 11781-11786. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1703165114

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, 26(10), 2660-2673. doi: 10.1111/mec.14063

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.

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

Collins, C. J., Chilvers, B. L., Taylor, M., & Robertson, B. C. (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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sutton, J. T., Robertson, B. C., & Jamieson, I. G. (2015). MHC variation reflects the bottleneck histories of New Zealand passerines. Molecular Ecology, 24(2), 362-373. doi: 10.1111/mec.13039

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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