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Murray Potter has a BSc (Zoology) and an MSc (Hons) (Zoology) from the University of Auckland, and a PhD (Zoology) from Massey University. For his MSc research Murray studied the ecology of native New Zealand termites within an exotic Pinus radiate production forest. Between his MSc and PhD Murray worked first for the New Zealand Wildlife Service where he prepared an early draft of the very first species recovery plan in New Zealand (North Island kokako, 1983), and then as a field technician for the Ecology Division of DSIR where he helped both pioneer ecological field research on North Island brown kiwi and gather the first quantitative data on mortality factors for kiwi. Those data now underpin the management strategies for all populations of kiwi on the mainland. While at DSIR he also assisted with behavioural research on Adelie penguins in Antarctica.
For his PhD Murray studied the ecology, reproductive behaviour, and reproductive endocrinology of North Island brown kiwi. He provided the first description of changes in plasma steroid concentrations during the reproductive cycle of this species, and described how sex-role reversal has resulted in male kiwi that display not only a highly seasonal cycle in plasma testosterone levels, but that also attain peak levels of both oestradiol and progesterone that can exceed those attained in the females.
Following completion of his PhD Murray worked for two years as a post-harvest entomologist with MAF before taking up a lectureship in 1991 at Massey University. Murray has since supervised over 60 postgraduate students.
Murray is especially interested in studies that integrate the ecology, physiology, and natural history of whole organisms within their natural settings, including how temporal constraints, stress, morphology, and nutrition underpin and interact with an animal's behaviour and ecology. Major foci of current research include: i) assessment of the endogenous and exogenous regulation of timing of long-distance migration; ii) the shifting dynamics of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in response to environmental change; iii) the sensory detection and selection of dietary items; and iv) the relevance of gut physiology and nutrition to animal ecology and conservation. A major thread that runs through his research is identification of the repeatability of responses by individuals that points to adaptive personalities within species. His overarching goal is to find practicable solutions to human-wildlife conflict.
Roles and Responsibilities
Major Leader for Zoology
Member of the BSc Programme Committee
Member of the BSc Exam Committee
Member of the College of Sciences Academic Board
Coordinator for 199.206 The Fauna of New Zealand
Coordinator for 199.310 Entomology
Coordinator for 199.717 Entomology
Professor Murray Potter is working both nationally and internationally to find practicable solutions to human-wildlife conflict. His areas of expertise include conservation biology, reproductive and stress physiology, avian nutrition, avian migration, entomology, kiwi, stoats, Adelie penguins and emperor penguins. His research interests include studies that integrate the ecology, physiology, behaviour and natural history of whole organisms within their natural settings, including how temporal constraints, stress, morphology and nutrition underpin and interact with an animal's behaviour and ecology. In particular he is interested in invertebrate and vertebrate behaviour, physiology, nutrition and conservation, and predator/prey population dynamics.
Invertebrate and Vertebrate Ecology and Conservation
Nutrition and Gut Physiology
Reproductive Behaviour, Growth and Development
Predator/Prey Population Dynamics
21st Century Citizenship, Resource Development and Management
Field of research codes
Animal Behaviour (060801): Animal Physiological Ecology (060806): Animal Structure and Function (060807): Biological Sciences (060000): Ecology (060200):
Environmental Science and Management (050200): Environmental Sciences (050000):
Invertebrate Biology (060808): Physiology (060600): Population Ecology (060207): Vertebrate Biology (060809):
Wildlife and Habitat Management (050211):
Conservation Biology, Reproductive and Stress Physiology, Avian Nutrition, Gut Physiology, Avian Migration, Kiwi, Stoats, Adelie Penguins, Emperor Penguins, Entomology.
Biology of Animals