Zoology Research

zoology-life-sciences1.jpg The zoology group studies the structure, function, behaviour, development and classification of animals.

Our expertise

Animal behaviour

Our research looks at animal behavioural patterns and responses to the abiotic and biotic environment, in ecological and evolutionary contexts.

Animal migration and spatial biology

We study how and why animals undertake regular, usually annual, long-distance movements. We also investigate spatial distributions of individuals and populations.


Biogeography is the study of the spatial distribution of species and ecosystems in space and through time. It unites concepts from ecology, evolutionary biology, geology, and physical geography.

Comparative physiology, structure and development

We take a comparative approach to the study of physiological, morphological and developmental adaptations made by animals to cope with challenges from the external environment.

Ecophysiology and wildlife nutrition

Our research investigate the interrelationship between an organism’s physical functioning and its environment, including stress physiology, the micro- and macronutrient requirements of wildlife and how the gut processes nutrients.

Entomology and soil zoology

We study plant/insect interactions, host/parasite/parasitoid interactions, reproductive strategies, and pest control. Soil zoology focuses on insects and other animals that live in soil, their diversity, ecology, and contribution to ecosystem functioning. 

Learn more about soil invertebrates.

For our insect ID service email bugs@massey.ac.nz

Systematics and taxonomy

This is the study of the diversification of living forms, and the relationships among living things through time. We also focus on the identification, description, and naming of organisms.

For more information about our research activity, click on individual researchers' names below.


Understanding the godwits’ journey

Bar-tailed godwits ‘winter’ vast distances from where they breed in spring, yet are under strong selection pressure to reach their breeding grounds at the time that best assures reproduction. Despite clear benefits of optimal arrival time, substantial variation exists in the migration timing of individual birds.

Jesse Conklin, Phil Battley, Murray Potter from Massey’s Institute of Agriculture and Environment showed that for the godwit, which makes the longest-known non-stop migratory flight of any bird, migration timing of individual birds from a non-breeding site in New Zealand was strongly correlated with their specific breeding latitudes in Alaska, USA, 16,000 – 18,000 km away. Six months later, birds returned to New Zealand in approximately the same order in which they departed. These tightly scheduled global movements suggest birds time their movements by endogenous mechanisms rather than environmental cues, with breeding site as the primary driver of temporal variation throughout the annual cycle.

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