Research expertise

Behavioural ecology

Behavioural ecology analyses the evolutionary context of animal behaviours associated with adaption to environment and applies this knowledge to species conservation.

Massey University researchers are investigating the impact of capture, captivity and handling, human contact, rehabilitation and relocation on the behavioural patterns, survival, reproduction rates and ongoing welfare of wildlife, with a focus on New Zealand native wildlife.


Community ecology

Community ecology studies the interactions between two or more species and their environment. Our research emphasis is on testing and applying current models and theories in community ecology.


Conservation and ecological genetics

Expertise in understanding the biological significance of genetic traits, their contribution to ecological performance and the regulatory networks that control their expression. We use population genetics (multi-locus markers, DNA sequence data, cytogenetics) to assess the conservation status, genetic diversity and evolutionary potential of populations.


Ecological statistics

We create statistical tools for ecological applications, including models of ecological systems, species’ abundances, biodiversity and community ecology. We engage in active field-based ecological research, and consulting for environmental monitoring and impact assessment.


Freshwater ecology

We do pure and applied research on the biological, physical and chemical characteristics of inland water bodies. We focus on river, stream and lake fauna, and how we can maintain or enhance that fauna in the face of rapidly expanding human demand for freshwater.


Marine biology and ecology

This area of research examines the function of organisms and their interactions in natural systems. . Our diverse expertise spans biogeography, evolutionary biology, population ecology and conservation biology of marine flora and fauna inhabiting intertidal, estuarine, coastal, and oceanic realms.


Marine evolutionary ecology

Our research investigates the evolutionary and ecological processes that determine the structure of populations and communities. We use a range of quantitative genetic and population genetic/genomic techniques in combination with field experiments to address questions on population connectivity, local adaptation and the distribution of genetic diversity in natural populations, using marine invertebrates as our subjects.


Molecular and evolutionary ecology

Our research investigates the evolutionary and ecological processes that determine the structure and functioning of populations and communities. We use genetic/genomic tools in combination with environmental DNA sampling, field surveys, and experiments to address questions on population connectivity, local adaptation, trophic interactions, and the distribution of genetic diversity in natural populations and communities.


Plant-animal interactions and chemical ecology

Our research aims to understand the chemical mechanisms underlying ecological interactions in New Zealand's endemic, native and endangered species. We apply this knowledge to the development of sustainable agricultural methods and the conservation of vulnerable species and their habitats. We also explore the dynamics of invasive species and their effects on the native flora and fauna.


Plant ecology

We study the adaptation of plants (natives and exotics), their communities and vegetation types to environmental stresses. We also research the impact and management of invasive plant species.


Soil ecology

Our research focuses on soil communities and ecosystem function: i.e., the role of soil invertebrates in soil health and productivity; the impact of land-management practices on soil invertebrate biodiversity; the ecology of threatened soil invertebrates; and soil ecological patterns in relation to abiotic gradients.


Spatial ecology

We are integrating science and data management solutions to effectively manage and conserve New Zealand’s natural resources, including studying the spatial distribution and movement of marine, fluvial and coastal environments and species, and modelling the effect of human actions on the environment.



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Research projects

Research centres and groups

Behavioural Ecology and Conservation Group

This group works to promote and implement collaborative science/mātauranga Māori-based research involving scientists, Māori/hapu/iwi, community groups, and landowners, that leads to the development of wildlife management techniques to support New Zealand conservation efforts.

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Innovative River Solutions

The Innovative River Solutions Centre is a hub of expertise on river catchments and provides integrated solutions for the management of New Zealand’s dynamic river systems.

We have staff with expertise in several of the science disciplines within river catchments.

Innovative River Solutions


    Massey University Reptile Facility

    The Reptile Facility on Massey’s Auckland campus consists of an outdoor area with 18 lizard enclosures, as well as an indoor unit with quarantine and experimental laboratories. It provides opportunities for research, teaching and conservation-focused activities involving New Zealand native lizards. It also hosts a captive breed-for-release programme for Duvaucel’s geckos. More than 140 lizards reared in the facility have been successfully released in association with local biodiversity restoration initiatives and as part of a long-term research programme that investigates the establishment success of translocated populations in different environments.

    Contact Manuela Barry

    New Zealand Indigenous Flora Seed Bank

    The New Zealand Indigenous Flora Seed Bank (NZIFSB) aims to collect the seeds of New Zealand flora, to conserve the biodiversity within New Zealand’s indigenous flora. Seed banking is a recognised conservation strategy to support in-situ conservation efforts.

    New Zealand Indigenous Flora Seed Bank

    Palynology laboratory

    Palynology is the science of pollen. It brings together aspects of geography, earth science, plant biology and ecology.

    Massey operates a world-class palynology laboratory for pollen analysis, where we have developed the Classifynder, a holistic automated pollen imaging and classification system.

    Palynology laboratory


    Bug identification service

    Massey scientists provide a bug identification service. Email us with your enquiry.

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    Wildbase Hospital

    Wildbase Hospital is New Zealand's only dedicated wildlife hospital. We provide a nationwide service and are at the forefront of veterinary care of New Zealand’s native birds, half of which are classified as threatened or endangered.

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      Guide to NZ Orthoptera

      Research material on taxonomy, ecology and evolution of New Zealand wētā and other orthoptera such as stick insects, grasshoppers and crickets. 

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      Guide to New Zealand soil invertebrates

      Information on New Zealand soil and litter invertebrates, their diversity, biology, ecosystem role, and conservation status.

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      Invertebrate DNA Toolkit

      As well as information on aDNA, transformational sequencing and next gen sequencing, data files from various projects relating to the DNA of invertebrates can be downloaded here for free.

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      Wild Life New Zealand - book

      Authors Steve Trewick and Mary Morgan-Richards explore the biology of New Zealand from the perspective of evolutionary ecology. The unconventional style informs in an accessible way about New Zealand species, their interactions and their origins. Recognisable focal plants and animals form the starting point in each chapter highlighting a different type of creature and different biological processes.

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