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Dr Aaron Harmer staff profile picture

Contact details +6492136594

Dr Aaron Harmer PhD, BSc(Hons)

Research Officer

School of Natural and Computational Sciences

My research integrates behavioural and biomechanical approaches to address key questions in the evolution of animal structure and function, with a focus on invertebrate sexual selection and feeding. I use a variety of techniques in my research including traditional behavioural studies, finite element modelling and shape analysis. I am also interested in conservation of New Zealand's endemic invertebrates, such as wētā and katipō.

Professional

Contact details

  • Ph: +64 9 213 6594
    Campus: Oteha Rohe, Albany

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy - Macquarie University (2010)
  • Bachelor of Science (Honours) - Macquarie University (2005)

Research Expertise

Research Interests

My research integrates behavioural and biomechanical approaches to address key questions in the evolution of animal structure and function, with a focus on invertebrate sexual selection and feeding. I use a variety of techniques in my research including traditional behavioural studies, finite element modelling and shape analysis. I am also interested in conservation of New Zealand's endemic invertebrates, such as wētā and katipō.

Research Opportunities

  • Mandible shape and feeding in NZ beetles  (01/01/2021) Biomechanics and behaviour project
  • Competition between endemic katipō and introduced false katipō  (01/01/2021) Conservation project
  • Multiple animal tracking in R  (01/01/2021) Computer vision project
  • Fighting behaviour and mechanics of tree wētā mandibles  (01/01/2021) Biomechanics and behaviour project
  • Habitat use and monitoring of wētāpunga  (01/01/2021) Conservation project in collaboration with Auckland Zoo

Area of Expertise

Field of research codes
Animal Behaviour (060801): Animal Structure and Function (060807): Behavioural Ecology (060201): Biological Sciences (060000): Ecology (060200): Evolutionary Biology (060300): Zoology (060800)

Keywords

animal behaviour, behavioural ecology, evolution, biomechanics, conservation

Research Projects

Summary of Research Projects

Position Current Completed
Project Leader 0 2

Research Outputs

Journal

Madin, EMP., Madin, JS., Harmer, AMT., Barrett, NS., Booth, DJ., Caley, MJ., . . . Sweatman, HPA. (2020). Latitude and protection affect decadal trends in reef trophic structure over a continental scale. Ecology and Evolution. 10(14), 6954-6966
[Journal article]Authored by: Harmer, A.
Harmer, A., & Thomas, D. (2019). pathtrackr: An r package for video tracking and analysing animal movement. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. 10(8), 1196-1202
[Journal article]Authored by: Harmer, A., Thomas, D.
Madin, EMP., Harborne, AR., Harmer, AMT., Luiz, OJ., Atwood, TB., Sullivan, BJ., . . . Madin, JS. (2019). Marine reserves shape seascapes on scales visible from space. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 286(1901)
[Journal article]Authored by: Harmer, A.
Roper, MM., Harmer, AMT., & Brunton, DH. (2018). Developmental changes in song production in free-living male and female New Zealand bellbirds. Animal Behaviour. 140, 57-71
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D., Harmer, A., Roper, M.
Madin, JS., Anderson, KD., Andreasen, MH., Bridge, TCL., Cairns, SD., Connolly, SR., . . . Baird, AH. (2017). Corrigendum: The Coral Trait Database, a curated database of trait information for coral species from the global oceans. Scientific data. 4, 170174
[Journal article]Authored by: Harmer, A.
Madin, JS., Anderson, KD., Andreasen, MH., Bridge, TCL., Cairns, SD., Connolly, SR., . . . Baird, AH. (2016). The Coral Trait Database, a curated database of trait information for coral species from the global oceans. SCIENTIFIC DATA. 3
[Journal article]Authored by: Harmer, A.
Parker, KA., Lovegrove, TG., Chambers, R., & Harmer, A. (2016). A guide for banding North Island robin (Petroica longipes) nestlings. New Zealand Journal of Zoology. 43(3), 307-310
[Journal article]Authored by: Harmer, A.
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(MAR)
[Journal article]Authored by: Brunton, D., Harmer, A., Roper, M.
Harmer, AMT., Clausen, PD., Wroe, S., & Madin, JS. (2015). Large orb-webs adapted to maximise total biomass not rare, large prey. Scientific Reports. 5
[Journal article]Authored by: Harmer, A.
Harmer, AMT., Kokko, H., Herberstein, ME., & Madin, JS. (2012). Optimal web investment in sub-optimal foraging conditions. Naturwissenschaften. 99(1), 65-70
[Journal article]Authored by: Harmer, A.
Herberstein, ME., Wignall, AE., Nessler, SH., Harmer, AMT., & Schneider, JM. (2012). How effective and persistent are fragmentsof male genitalia as mating plugs?. Behavioral Ecology. 23(5), 1140-1145
[Journal article]Authored by: Harmer, A., Wignall, A.
Harmer, AMT., Blackledge, TA., Madin, JS., & Herberstein, ME. (2011). High-performance spider webs: Integrating biomechanics, ecology and behaviour. Journal of the Royal Society Interface. 8(57), 457-471
[Journal article]Authored by: Harmer, A.
Herberstein, ME., Schneider, JM., Harmer, AMT., Gaskett, AC., Robinson, K., Shaddick, K., . . . Elgar, MA. (2011). Sperm storage and copulation duration in a sexually cannibalistic spider. Journal of Ethology. 29(1), 9-15
[Journal article]Authored by: Harmer, A.
Harmer, AMT., & Herberstein, ME. (2010). Functional diversity of ladder-webs: Moth specialization or optimal area use?. Journal of Arachnology. 38(1), 119-122
[Journal article]Authored by: Harmer, A.
Harmer, AMT. (2009). Elongated orb-webs of Australian ladder-web spiders (Araneidae: Telaprocera) and the significance of orb-web elongation. Journal of Ethology. 27(3), 453-460
[Journal article]Authored by: Harmer, A.
Harmer, AMT., & Herberstein, ME. (2009). Taking it to extremes: what drives extreme web elongation in Australian ladder web spiders (Araneidae: Telaprocera maudae)?. Animal Behaviour. 78(2), 499-504
[Journal article]Authored by: Harmer, A.
Harmer, AMT., & Framenau, VW. (2008). Telaprocera (Araneae: Araneidae), a new genus of Australian orb-web spiders with highly elongated webs. Zootaxa. (1956), 59-80
[Journal article]Authored by: Harmer, A.
Mankin, RW., Lemon, M., Harmer, AMT., Evans, CS., & Taylor, PW. (2008). Time-pattern and frequency analyses of sounds produced by irradiated and untreated male Bactrocera tryoni (Diptera: Tephritidae) during mating behavior. Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 101(3), 664-674
[Journal article]Authored by: Harmer, A.
Perez-Staples, D., Harmer, AMT., Collins, SR., & Taylor, PW. (2008). Potential for pre-release diet supplements to increase the sexual performance and longevity of male Queensland fruit flies. Agricultural and Forest Entomology. 10(3), 255-262
[Journal article]Authored by: Harmer, A.
Perez-Staples, D., Harmer, AMT., & Taylor, PW. (2007). Sperm storage and utilization in female Queensland fruit flies (Bactrocera tryoni). Physiological Entomology. 32(2), 127-135
[Journal article]Authored by: Harmer, A.
Harmer, AMT., Radhakrishnan, P., & Taylor, PW. (2006). Remating inhibition in female Queensland fruit flies: Effects and correlates of sperm storage. Journal of Insect Physiology. 52(2), 179-186
[Journal article]Authored by: Harmer, A.

Conference

Wignall, A., & Harmer, A. (2018, April). Better the devil you know: familiarity reduces contest aggression in spiders. Presented at 67th Entomological Society of New Zealand Conference. Whanganui, New Zealand.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Harmer, A., Wignall, A.
Harmer, AMT., Clausen, P., Wroe, S., & Madin, JS. (2017, April). Crash-testing spider webs to test the rare large prey hypothesis. Presented at The 66th Entomological Society of New Zealand Conference. Wellington, New Zealand.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Harmer, A.
Harmer, AMT., & Thomas, DB.pathtrackr: An r package for video tracking and analysing animal movement.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Harmer, A., Thomas, D.
Harmer, AMT., Clausen, P., Wroe, S., & Madin, JS. (2015). Crash-testing spider webs to test the rare large prey hypothesis. Poster session presented at the meeting of 34th International Ethological Conference. Cairns, Australia
[Conference Poster]Authored by: Harmer, A.
Harmer, AMT., & Wroe, S. (2012, August). Adaptive engineering of spider webs: how do behaviour, materials and ecology interact to determine prey capture performance?. Presented at 14th International Behavioural Ecology Congress. Lund, Sweden.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Harmer, A.

Other

Harmer, AMT., & Thomas, DB. (2017). pathtrackr: An R package for video tracking and analysing animal movement.
[Other]Authored by: Harmer, A., Thomas, D.

Teaching and Supervision

Courses Coordinated

Graduate Supervision Statement

Please contact me if you are interested in postgraduate projects.


Summary of Doctoral Supervision

Position Current Completed
Co-supervisor 4 2

Current Doctoral Supervision

Co-supervisor of:

  • Jacques De Satge - Doctor of Philosophy
    Understanding mangrove-avifauna relationships in New Zealand: studying the banded rail (Gallirallus philippensis assimilis) as a model species
  • Irene Middleton - Doctor of Philosophy
    Detecting and predicting the dispersal and naturalisation of foreign marine species on New Zealand reefs
  • Abigail Kuranchie - Doctor of Philosophy
    Ecology of ponds: anthropogenic and environmental effects on biodiversity
  • Mehrnaz Tavasoli - Doctor of Philosophy
    The role of personality and behavioural plasticity in Common Blackbird (Turdus merula) reproductive success

Completed Doctoral Supervision

Co-supervisor of:

  • 2020 - Wesley Webb - Doctor of Philosophy
    New horizons for female birdsong: evolution, culture and analysis tools
  • 2018 - Michelle Roper - Doctor of Philosophy
    Sexual dimorphism of song and life history trade-offs in the New Zealand bellbird.