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Bruce Robertson 2022Email

Tel +64 3 479 4110


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)


Bond, D. M., Ortega-Recalde, O., Laird, M. K., Hayakawa, T., Richardson, K. S., Reese, F. C. B., Kyle, B., McIsaac-Williams, B. E., Robertson, B. C., van Heezik, Y., Adams, A. L., … Gemmell, N. J., Alexander, A., & Hore, T. A. (2023). The admixed brushtail possum genome reveals invasion history in New Zealand and novel imprinted genes. Nature Communications, 14, 6364. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-41784-8

Estandía, A., Sendell- Price, A. T., Oatley, G., Robertson, F., Potvin, D., Massaro, M., Robertson, B. C., & Clegg, S. M. (2023). Candidate gene polymorphisms are linked to dispersive and migratory behaviour: Searching for a mechanism behind the "paradox of the great speciators". Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 36, 1503-1516. doi: 10.1111/jeb.14222

Guhlin, J., Le Lec, M. F., Wold, J., Koot, E., Winter, D., Biggs, P. J., … Urban, L., Foster, Y., … Robertson, F. E., Robertson, B. C., Gemmell, N. J., … Dearden, P. K. (2023). Species-wide genomics of kākāpō provides tools to accelerate recovery. Nature Ecology & Evolution. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1038/s41559-023-02165-y

McLean, L. R. W., Horton, T. W., Robertson, B. C., Robertson, F., Greer, A. L., & Nelson, X. J. (2023). Reproductive roles as likely drivers of sexual dimorphism in New Zealand’s endangered mountain parrot, the Kea. Ornithology, 140, ukad038. doi: 10.1093/ornithology/ukad038

Bertoia, A., Murray, T., Robertson, B. C., & Monks, J. M. (2023). Pitfall trapping outperforms other methods for surveying ground-dwelling large-bodied alpine invertebrates [Review]. Journal of Insect Conservation. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s10841-023-00498-4

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