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Associate Professor Bruce Robertson


Phone 64-3-479-4110

Dr Bruce C. Robertson


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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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

Dussex, N., Taylor, H. R., Irestedt, M., & Robertson, B. C. (2018). When genetic and phenotypic data do not agree: The conservation implications of ignoring inconvenient taxonomic evidence [Forum]. New Zealand Journal of Ecology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.20417/nzjecol.42.13

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

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

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

More publications...