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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

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., & 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

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.

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

Journal - Research Article

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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., 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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., 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

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

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.

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

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