Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Professor Bruce Robertson

Email bruce.robertson@otago.ac.nz

Phone 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)

^ Top of page

Publications

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

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. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1111/mec.15248

Foote, I., Godfrey, S. S., & Robertson, B. C. (2019). Mate choice explains high genetic diversity in a small founding population of the New Zealand sea lion (Phocarctos hookeri). Australian Journal of Zoology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1071/ZO19023

Schlesselmann, A.-K. V., Dussex, N., Cooper, J., Monks, J. M., O'Donnell, C. F. J., & Robertson, B. C. (2019). Contrasting patterns of population structure at large and fine geographical scales in a migratory avian disturbance specialist of braided river ecosystems. Diversity & Distributions. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1111/ddi.12994

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. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1002/ece3.4903

Journal - Research Article

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. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1002/ece3.4903

Schlesselmann, A.-K. V., Dussex, N., Cooper, J., Monks, J. M., O'Donnell, C. F. J., & Robertson, B. C. (2019). Contrasting patterns of population structure at large and fine geographical scales in a migratory avian disturbance specialist of braided river ecosystems. Diversity & Distributions. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1111/ddi.12994

Foote, I., Godfrey, S. S., & Robertson, B. C. (2019). Mate choice explains high genetic diversity in a small founding population of the New Zealand sea lion (Phocarctos hookeri). Australian Journal of Zoology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1071/ZO19023

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. Advance online publication. 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., O'Donnell, C. F., Monks, J., & Robertson, B. C. (2018). Clearing islands as refugia for black-fronted tern (Chlidonias albostriatus) breeding colonies in braided rivers. New Zealand Journal of Ecology. Advance online publication.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More publications...