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Phone +64 3 479 4107



Research Interests

  • Urban biodiversity
  • Impacts of cats and other predators on urban wildlife
  • Viability/distributions of urban wildlife populations
  • Human dimensions of urban biodiversity
  • Breeding ecology of seabirds

Current Projects

Households amongst biodiversity

  • Children's connection with nature in urban areas
  • Vegetative and invertebrate diversity in private gardens
  • Householder knowledge and attitudes towards biodiversity in their own gardens
  • Hunting behaviour of domestic cats
  • Resource use by native and exotic birds in urban forest fragments
  • Fine-scale classification of biodiversity values of urban spaces
  • Movements and habitat use of urban possums using GPS technology
  • Tourism impacts on little penguins
  • Life-time reproductive success  in yellow-eyed penguins
  • Diet of little penguins using stable isotopes
  • Resource selection by Peripatus across the urban landscape

Current and Recent Postgraduate Students

Avian community in suburbia

  • Emily Gray, "Seasonal resource use by native and exotic birds in mixed native/exotic urban forest fragments"
  • Cayley Coughlin, "Instrumentation effects and the use of tri-axial accelerometers to detect hunting behaviour in domestic cats".
  • Kate Hand, "Children's independent use of space in their neighbourhoods: do children access bio-diverse areas in proportion to their availability?"
  • Sara Larcombe, "Impacts of visitor disturbance on breeding little penguin".
  • Sam Haultain, "Maximising the conservation potential of the captive Otago skink (Oligosoma otagense) population".
  • Amy Adams, "Spatial ecology and genetic population structure of the common brushtail possum within a NZ urban environment"
  • Ed Waite, "Specimen trees as ecological keystone structures in the urban landscape".
  • Dan Barrett, "Multiple-scale resource selection of an undescribed urban invertebrate (Onychophora: Peripatopsidae) in Dunedin, New Zealand".
  • Aviva Stein, "Lifetime reproductive success in yellow-eyed penguins: influence of life-history parameters and investigator disturbance"
  • Scott Flemming, "Little penguin diet composition at three colonies: can stable isotope analysis be used to detect dietary trends?"
  • Kat Manno, "Physical environmental influences on breeding performance of the fairy prion"..
  • Mel Young, "Marine-based stochasticity and the impact upon Yellow-eyed penguins on mainland New Zealand; does it drive annual regional productivity?"


van Heezik, Y., Simpson, L., Patterson, C. R., Seddon, P. J., & Wilson, D. J. (2023). Spatially explicit capture-recapture estimate of hedgehog population density in exotic grassland, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Ecology, 47(1), 3555. doi: 10.20417/nzjecol.47.3555

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

Samus, A., Freeman, C., Dickinson, K. J. M., & van Heezik, Y. (2023). An examination of the factors influencing engagement in gardening practices that support biodiversity using the theory of planned behavior. Biological Conservation, 286, 110252. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2023.110252

Hickcox, R. P., Mattern, T., Young, M. J., Rodríguez-Recio, M., van Heezik, Y., & Seddon, P. J. (2023). Risks, resources, and refugia: Spatial overlap between yellow-eyed penguin foraging distribution and prey, commercial fisheries, and marine protected areas. Biological Conservation, 284, 110197. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2023.110197

Woolley, C. K., Hartley, S., Innes, J. G., Shanahan, D. F., van Heezik, Y., Wilson, D. J., & Nelson, N. J. (2023). Conservation of skinks in New Zealand cities. Urban Ecosystems. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s11252-023-01398-w

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