Prof Dianne Brunton staff profile picture

Contact details +64 (09) 414 0800  ext. 43615

Prof Dianne Brunton PhD, MSc, BSc

Head of Institute - Institute of Natural and Mathematical Sciences

Institute of Natural and Mathematical Sciences

My major research interest is in the field of evolution and ecology of animal communication. In particular, I identified the New Zealand Bellbird (Anthornis melanura) and the North Island saddleback (Philesturnus rufusater) as two species that are outstanding meta-populations for testing cultural evolution theory. My collaborative research on both species has proven to be productive and includes publications in top-ranked international journals: Ecology Letters IF=15.25, Evolution IF=5.659, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society (IF=2.3), and specialised top ranked journals: Behavioral Ecology( IF=3.38), Animal Behaviour (IF=3.4), Behavioural Ecology & Sociobiology (IF=2.73) Ethology (IF=1.95) and Journal of Ethology (IF=0.9), and Parasitology (IF=2.37). The significance of this work to wider biodiversity and conservation studies also underpins my research collaborations with researchers at UC Berkeley, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Australia National University and University of Melbourne.

In addition to my ongoing research on avian cultural evolution, I have published 100+ research publications in peer reviewed journals on other ecology and conservation focussed projects. I have been committed to publishing results with my PhD and MSc students. My philosophy has been to advance knowledge through research and to communicate my findings to all stakeholders. This communication has been achieved via partnership with professionals (FRST, MSI, DOC, Auckland Council research contracts), community groups (Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi, TOSSI, SOSSI and Motutapu Trust) and by my board and professional society memberships (Auckland Zoo, Council for the Australasian Society for the Study of Animal Behaviour, and Council for the Society for Reptiles and Amphibians of New Zealand.

Community conservation efforts are directly supported by my research group; we provide expertise, advice and quarantine facilities for reptile translocations in addition to inclusion of volunteers into our research when appropriate. Likewise, public outreach has been facilitated by regular talks by myself and my students to community groups, through TV and radio interviews and features on the internet.

On top of my research and postgraduate commitments I am involved in undergraduate teaching. I coordinate four courses each year (199.206 Fauna of New Zealand, 199.312 Behavioural Ecology, 232.701 Conservation Biology and 232.703 Wildlife Management), I also lecture in 196.205 Ecology and Conservation and coordinate up to five postgraduate diploma students in 700 level Special Topics papers each year. My teaching philosophy is strongly research based and I encourage undergraduate involvement in many of our ongoing research projects. 

My research contributions are in social behaviour and the evolution and ecology of animal communication. My main research interests include the evolution of song and I have investigated Saddleback dialects (a completed Marsden project), sexual selection in NZ bellbirds, foraging ecology of Little Penguins using stable isotopes, and the role of malarial diseases in the evolution and ecology of NZ’s fauna. An important current focus is the evolution of song in NZ bellbirds.  I also currently oversee a thriving Postgraduate research group at where I supervise many projects focussed on the ecology and evolutionary biology of NZ native species.

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Professional

Contact details

  • Location: Building 5
    Campus: Albany

Qualifications

  • Doctorate - University of Michigan (1987)
  • Masters of Science - University of Auckland (1981)
  • Bachelor of Sciences - University of Auckland (1979)

Research Expertise

Research Interests

Bioacousitics

Ecology

Conservation Biology

Biostatistics

Avian Biology

Trasnlocation

Disease Ecology

Thematics

Resource Development and Management

Area of Expertise

Field of research codes
Animal Behaviour (060801): Behavioural Ecology (060201): Biological Sciences (060000): Ecology (060200): Zoology (060800)

Keywords

Ecology, Conservation, Biostatistics, Avian Biology

Research Projects

Summary of Research Projects

Position Current Completed
Project Leader 5 36
Team Member 0 3

Current Projects

Project Title: Untangling Genes and Culture: Sex-based Song Traditions in New Zealand Bellbirds

Date Range: 2014 - 2019

Funding Body: Royal Society of New Zealand

Project Team:

Research Outputs

Journal

Hill, SD., Brunton, DH., Anderson, MG., & Ji, W. (2017). Fighting talk: Complex song elicits more aggressive responses in a vocally complex songbird. Ibis.
[Journal article]Authored by: Anderson, M., Brunton, D., Ji, W.
Webb, W., Brunton, DH., Aguirre, JDAVID., Thomas, D., Valcu, M., & Dale, J. (2016). Female song occurs in songbirds with more elaborate female coloration and reduced sexual dichromatism. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 4, 1-8
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D., Dale, J.
Brunton, DH., Roper, MM., & Harmer, AMT. (2016). Female song rate and structure predict reproductive success in a socially monogamous bird. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 4, 1-11 Retrieved from http://journal.frontiersin.org/journal/ecology-and-evolution#
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D., Harmer, A.
Morgan-Richards, M., Hinlo, AR., Smuts-Kennedy, C., Innes, J., Ji, W., Barry, M., . . . Hitchmough, RA. (2016). Identification of a Rare Gecko from North Island New Zealand, and Genetic Assessment of Its Probable Origin: A Novel Mainland Conservation Priority?. Journal of Herpetology. 50(1), 77-86
[Journal article]Authored by: Barry, M., Brunton, D., Ji, W., Morgan-Richards, M.
Le Souëf, AT., Barry, M., Brunton, DH., Jakob-Hoff, R., & Jackson, B. (2015). Ovariectomy as treatment for ovarian bacterial granulomas in a Duvaucel's gecko (Hoplodactylus duvaucelii). New Zealand Veterinary Journal. 63(6), 340-344
[Journal article]Authored by: Barry, M., Brunton, D.
Ranjard, L., Withers, SJ., Brunton, DH., Ross, HA., & Parsons, S. (2015). Integration over song classification replicates: Song variant analysis in the hihi. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 137(5), 2542-2551
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D.
Baillie, SM., Ritchie, PA., & Brunton, DH. (2014). Population genetic connectivity of an endemic New Zealand passerine after large-scale local extirpations: A model of re-colonization potential. Ibis. 156(4), 826-839
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D.
Gsell, AC., Seabrook-Davison, MNH., & Brunton, DH. (2014). Are wild rodents attracted to lure laboratory rats?. Pacific Conservation Biology. 20(1), 108-115
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D.
Aryal, A., Brunton, D., & Raubenheimer, D. (2014). Impact of climate change on human-wildlife-ecosystem interactions in the Trans-Himalaya region of Nepal. Theoretical and Applied Climatology. 115(3-4), 517-529
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D.
Richardson, K., Castro, IC., Brunton, DH., & Armstrong, DP. (2015). Not so soft? Delayed release reduces long-term survival in a passerine reintroduction. ORYX. 49(3), 535-541
[Journal article]Authored by: Armstrong, D., Brunton, D., Castro, I.
Shapira, I., Brunton, D., Shanas, U., & Raubenheimer, D. (2013). Conspecific attraction in invasive wild house mice: Effects of strain, sex and diet. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 147(1-2), 186-193
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D.
Baling, M., Ji, W., Gartrell, B., & Brunton, DH. (2013). Detection of Salmonella during the translocation of two endemic New Zealand lizard species within the Hauraki Gulf. New Zealand Journal of Zoology. 40(3), 249-254
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D., Gartrell, B., Ji, W.
Adams, NJ., Parker, KA., Cockrem, JF., Brunton, DH., & Candy, EJ. (2013). Inter-island differences in the corticosterone responses of North Island Saddlebacks (Philesturnus rufusater) in New Zealand do not suggest selective effects of translocation. Emu. 113(1), 45-51
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D., Candy, E., Cockrem, J.
Aryal, A., Hopkins, JB., Raubenheimer, D., Ji, W., & Brunton, D. (2012). Distribution and diet of brown bears in the upper Mustang Region, Nepal. Ursus. 23(2), 231-236
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D., Ji, W.
Whitwell, SM., Amiot, C., Mclean, IG., Lovegrove, TG., Armstrong, DP., Brunton, DH., . . . Ji, W. (2012). Losing anti-predatory behaviour: A cost of translocation. Austral Ecology. 37(4), 413-418
[Journal article]Authored by: Armstrong, D., Brunton, D., Ji, W.
Massaro, M., Ortiz-Catedral, L., Julian, L., Galbraith, JA., Kurenbach, B., Kearvell, J., . . . Varsani, A. (2012). Molecular characterisation of beak and feather disease virus (BFDV) in New Zealand and its implications for managing an infectious disease. Archives of Virology. 157(9), 1651-1663
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D., Ortiz Catedral, L.
Aryal, A., Brunton, D., Pandit, R., Shrestha, TK., Lord, J., Koirala, RK., . . . Raubenheimer, D. (2012). Biological diversity and management regimes of the northern Barandabhar Forest Corridor: An essential habitat for ecological connectivity in Nepal. Tropical Conservation Science. 5(1), 38-49
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D., Ji, W.
Parker, KA., Anderson, MJ., Jenkins, PF., & Brunton, DH. (2012). The effects of translocation-induced isolation and fragmentation on the cultural evolution of bird song. Ecology Letters.
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D.
Ortiz-Catedral, L., Prada, D., Gleeson, D., & Brunton, DH. (2011). Avian malaria in a remnant population of red-fronted parakeets on Little Barrier Island, New Zealand. NEW ZEALAND JOURNAL OF ZOOLOGY. 38(3), 261-268
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D., Ortiz Catedral, L.
Whitwell, SM., Amiot, C., Mclean, IG., Lovegrove, TG., Armstrong, DP., Brunton, DH., . . . Ji, W. (2011). Losing anti-predatory behaviour: A cost of translocation. Austral Ecology.
[Journal article]Authored by: Armstrong, D., Brunton, D.
BAILLIE, SM., & BRUNTON, DH. (2011). Diversity, distribution and biogeographical origins of Plasmodium parasites from the New Zealand bellbird (Anthornis melanura). Parasitology. , 1-9
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D.
Ziesemann, B., Brunton, DH., & Castro, IC. (2011). Nesting success and breeding ecology in a high-density population of Brown Kiwi (Apteryx mantelli). Emu. 111(2), 148-154
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D., Castro, I.
Barry, M., Cockrem, JF., & Brunton, DH. (2010). Seasonal variation in plasma corticosterone concentrations in wild and captive adult Duvaucels geckos (Hoplodactylus duvaucelii) in New Zealand. Australian Journal of Zoology. 58(4), 234-242
[Journal article]Authored by: Barry, M., Brunton, D., Cockrem, J.
Adams, NJ., Parker, KA., Cockrem, JF., Brunton, DH., & Candy, EJ. (2010). Corticosterone responses and post-release survival in translocated North Island Saddlebacks (Philesturnus rufusater) in New Zealand. Emu. 110(4), 296-301
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D., Candy, E., Cockrem, J.
Brunton, DH., Evans, B., Cope, T., & Ji, W. (2008). A test of the dear enemy hypothesis in female New Zealand bellbirds (Anthornis melanura): Female neighbors as threats. Behavioral Ecology. 19(4), 791-798
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D., Ji, W.
Marks, EJ., Rodrigo, AG., & Brunton, DH. (2010). Ecstatic display calls of the Adélie penguin honestly predict male condition and breeding success. Behaviour. 147(2), 165-184
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D.
Cooper, GJS., Young, AA., Gamble, GD., Occleshaw, CJ., Dissanayake, AM., Cowan, BR., . . . Doughty, RN. (2009). A copper(II)-selective chelator ameliorates left-ventricular hypertrophy in type 2 diabetic patients: A randomised placebo-controlled study. Diabetologia. 52(4), 715-722
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D.
Thorogood, R., Brunton, DH., & Castro, IC. (2009). Simple techniques for sexing nestling hihi (Notiomystis cincta) in the field. New Zealand Journal of Zoology. 36(2), 115-121
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D., Castro, I.
Brunton, DH., Evans, BA., & Ji, W. (2008). Assessing natural dispersal of New Zealand bellbirds using song type and song playbacks. New Zealand Journal of Ecology. 32(2), 147-154
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D., Ji, W.
Ziesemann, B., Brunton, DH., & Castro, I. (2006). Social behavior, interactions and the social mating system of a high-density North Island Brown Kiwi population. JOURNAL OF ORNITHOLOGY. 147(5), 278-278
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D., Castro, I.
Cooper, GJS., Chan, YK., Dissanayake, AM., Leahy, FE., Keogh, GF., Frampton, CM., . . . Poppitt, SD. (2005). Demonstration of a hyperglycemia-driven pathogenic abnormality of copper homeostasis in diabetes and its reversibility by selective chelation: Quantitative comparisons between the biology of copper and eight other nutritionally essential elements in normal and diabetic individuals. Diabetes. 54(5), 1468-1476
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D.
Cooper, GJS., Phillips, ARJ., Choong, SY., Leonard, BL., Crossman, DJ., Brunton, DH., . . . Baker, JR. (2004). Regeneration of the heart in diabetes by selective copper chelation. Diabetes. 53(9), 2501-2508
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D.
Constantine, R., Brunton, DH., & Dennis, T. (2004). Dolphin-watching tour boats change bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) behaviour. Biological Conservation. 117(3), 299-307
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D.
Castro, I., Brunton, DH., Mason, KM., Ebert, B., & Griffiths, R. (2003). Life history traits and food supplementation affect productivity in a translocated population of the endangered Hihi (Stitchbird, Notiomystis cincta). Biological Conservation. 114(2), 271-280
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D., Castro, I.
Jeffries, DS., & Brunton, DH. (2001). Attracting endangered species to 'safe' habitats: Responses of fairy terns to decoys. Animal Conservation. 4(4), 301-305
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D.
Brunton, DH. (1988). Sexual differences in reproductive effort: time-activity budgets of monogamous killdeer, Charadrius vociferus. Animal Behaviour. 36(3), 705-717
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D.

Conference

Dixon, T., Castro, I., & Brunton, D. (2013, November). Habitat utilisation of North Island Brown Kiwi within a high-density population. Presented at The Annual Conference of the Wildlife Society of the NZVA. Whangarei.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Brunton, D., Castro, I.
Ziesemann, B., Castro, IC., Ji, W., & Brunton, DH. (2009, April). Nest success and next site reuse in an introduced population of North Island brown kiwi, Apteryx mantelli. Presented at Meeting of the Australasian Society for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Auckland, New Zealand.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Brunton, D., Castro, I., Ji, W.
Whitwell, S., Armstrong, DP., Brunton, DH., & Ji, W. (2009, April). The impact of isolation from mammalian predators on the anti-predator behaviours of the North Island robin. Presented at Meeting of the Australasian Society for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Auckland, New Zealand.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Armstrong, D., Brunton, D., Ji, W.
Stockin, KA., Binedell, V., Wiseman, N., Brunton, DH., & Orams, M. (2009). Behaviour of free-ranging common dolphins (Delphinus sp.) in the Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand. In Annual Conference of European Cetacean Society (ECS): The European Cetacean Society (ECS)
[Conference Abstract]Authored by: Brunton, D., Orams, M., Stockin, K.
Baling, M., Ji, W., Gartrell, BD., & Brunton, DH. (2008, September). Disease screening in New Zealand reptiles: Importance in translocation. Presented at New Zealand Ecological Society Conference. Auckland, New Zealand.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Brunton, D., Gartrell, B., Ji, W.
Castro, IC., Howe, LJ., Tompkins, D., Slaney, D., Barraclough, RK., Brunton, DH., . . . McInnes, K. (2007, December). Avian malaria in NZ Saddlebacks living on Mokoia Island, Lake Rotorua. Presented at 4th Biennial Australasian Ornithological Conference. University of Western Australia, Perth, WA.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Brunton, D., Castro, I., Howe, L.
Castro, IC., Howe, LJ., Tompkins, D., Slaney, D., Barraclough, RK., Brunton, DH., . . . McInnes, K. (2007, November). Avian malaria in New Zealand saddlebacks living on Mokoia Island, Lake Rotorua. Presented at New Zealand Ecological Society Conference. University of Canterbury, Christchurch, NZ.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Brunton, D., Castro, I., Howe, L.
Shapiro, L., Castro, IC., Brunton, DH., Colbourne, R., & Miles, J. (2005, December). Evaluating the potential for competion between ship rats (Rattus spp.) and kiwi (Apteryx australis) chicks. Presented at 3rd Biennial Australasian Ornithological Conference. St Mary's Parish Centre, Blenheim, NZ.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Brunton, D., Castro, I.
Withers, S., Brunton, DH., & Castro, IC. (2003, November). Composition and function of hihi (Notiomystis cincta) song in relation to social behaviour and resources. Presented at New Zealand Ecological Society Conference 2003. University of Auckland, Auckland, NZ.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Brunton, D., Castro, I.
Thorogood, R., Brunton, DH., & Castro, IC. (2003, November). Determining the effects of food availability on the reproductive behaviour and success of hihi (stitchbird, Notiomystis cincta): An experiment in progress. Presented at New Zealand Ecological Society Conference. University of Auckland, Auckland, NZ.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Brunton, D., Castro, I.
Brunton, DH., & Castro, IC. (2003, November). Implications of differential sex allocation for endangered species management. Presented at New Zealand Ecological Society Conference. University of Auckland, Auckland, NZ.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Brunton, D., Castro, I.
Castro, IC., Brunton, DH., Mason, K., Ebert, B., & Griffiths, R. (2001, August). Effect of food supplementation, female age and clutch number on egg laying and incubation in a translocated population of hihi (Aves). Presented at New Zealand Ecological Society 50th Jubilee Conference. University of Canterbury, Christchurch, NZ.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Brunton, D., Castro, I.
Castro, IC., Brunton, DH., Anthony, D., & Anderson, S. (2000, November). Is blood sampling of birds truly harmless?. Presented at New Zealand Ecological Society Conference. University of Waikato, Hamilton, NZ.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Brunton, D., Castro, I.

Supervision and Teaching

Summary of Doctoral Supervision

Position Current Completed
Supervisor 7 14
CoSupervisor 5 3

Current Doctoral Supervision

Supervisor of:

  • Akshya Ilangovan - PhD
    Assessing the role of the RMA in conservation: perceptions and outcomes.
  • Abigail Kuranchie - PhD
    Assessing the role of marginal and degraded habitats in species conservation
  • Mehrnaz Tavasoli - PhD
    Behavioural plasticity in common blackbird (Turdus merula): exploration, responses to novelty, and reproductive success
  • Jessica Patino Perez - PhD
    Personality and social networks in bottlenose dolphin at Great Barrier Island, New Zealand
  • Wesley Webb - PhD
    Cultural evolution of song diversity in New Zealand bellbird (Anthornis melanura)
  • Michelle Roper - PhD
    Song ontogeny of the New Zealand bellbird (Anthornis melanura).
  • Jennifer Laycock - PhD
    Disease risks to New Zealand native frogs: Anthropogenic dispersal of invasive litoria species

CoSupervisor of:

  • Alison Hunt - PhD
    The influence of personality and cognition on antagonistic interactions
  • Hemanta Kumar Yadav - PhD
    Population, structure, movement, nutritional ecology and interaction with predators (tiger and common leopard) and other sympatric ungulates (hog deer and spotted deer) of Swamp deer in Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve, Western Lowland, Nepal
  • Sam Hill - PhD
    Avian song complexity variation: functional and environmental influences
  • Marleen Baling - PhD
    Functional significance of highly variable colouration in the shore sink (Oligosoma smith)
  • Christophe Amiot - PhD
    Impact of human colonisation history on New Zealand Avian diversity

Completed Doctoral Supervision

Supervisor of:

  • 2016 - Virginia Moreno Puig - PhD
    Conservation of the critically endangered frog Telmatobufo bullocki in fragmented temperate forests of Chile
  • 2014 - Idan Shapira - PhD
    Behavioural Ecology of New Zealand Invasive Rodents (Rattus norvegicus and Mus musculus): Implications for Rodent Control
  • 2014 - Juergen Bertram Kolb - PhD
    Short Circuit Co-Evolution by the Perfect Parasites: Antifreeze Glycoproeins in Antarctic Fish Leeches (Hirudinea, Piscicolidae)
  • 2013 - Achyut Aryal - PhD
    Prey, predator, human and climate change interactions in the Himalayas, Nepal
  • 2012 - Anna Clarissa Gsell - PhD
    The Ecology and Anatomy of Scent in the Critically Endangered Kakapo (Strigops Habroptilus)
  • 2011 - Shauna Maureen Baillie - PhD
    Population Genetic Connectivity and Biogeography of the New Zealand Bellbird (Anthornis melanura) and their Avian Malaria Parasites
  • 2011 - Luis Ortiz Catedral - PhD
    Aspects of the biology of managed populations of two Cyanoramphus parakeet species in New Zealand: Breeding biology, pathogen screening and translocation
  • 2011 - Manuela Barry - PhD
    Shelter aggregations, social behaviour, and seasonal plasma corticosterone levels in captive and wild Duvaucel's geckos, Hoplodactylus duvaucelii
  • 2011 - Birgit Ziesemann - PhD
    Social organisation and mating system of a high-density brown Kiwi (Apteryx mantelli) population
  • 2011 - Joanne Elizabeth Peace - PhD
    Comparision of tropic structures between human modified and native forest habitats
  • 2011 - Kevin Alan Parker - PhD
    The impacts of translocation on the cultural evolution of song in the North Island saddleback or tieke (Philesturnus rufusater)
  • 2010 - Mark Nicholas Hawdon Seabrook-Davison - PhD
    An evaluation of the conservation of New Zealand's threatened biodiversity: Management, species recovery and legislation
  • 2009 - Michael Gareth Anderson - PhD
    Evolutionary interactions of brood parasites and their hosts: Recognition, communication and breeding biology
  • 2008 - Karen Ann Stockin - PhD
    The New Zealand common dolphin (Delphinus sp.): Identity, ecology and conservation

CoSupervisor of:

  • 2017 - Daniel Adrian Godoy - PhD
    The ecology and conservation of green turtles (Chelonia mydas) in New Zealand
  • 2015 - Sarah Jane Wells - PhD
    Evolutionary consequences and fitness correlates of extra-pair mating in the tui, Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae
  • 2011 - Emmanuelle Valerie Martinez-Smagghe - PhD
    Responses of South Island Hector's dolphins (Celhalorhynchus hectori hectori) to vessel activity (including tourism operations) in Akaroa Harbour, Banks Peninsula, New Zealand

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