Our Wellington and Manawatū campuses are open, Auckland remains closed at AL3. More information.

Behavioural Ecology and Conservation Group

Our group’s mission is 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. We achieve this aim through four areas of research.

Brown kiwi research programme

The Behavioural Ecology and Conservation Group at Massey University has the longest running research programme on kiwi in New Zealand, outside the Department of Conservation.

Conservation technology

Our team has the first dedicated conservation technology team in New Zealand.

Behavioural ecology

Our team expands our knowledge of species through the scientific study of their anatomy/morphology, ecology and behaviour.

Parasitology research

Our team contributes to knowledge and conservation of parasites by researching micro and macro parasites and their effect on the species of interest.

Group Leader Dr Isabel Castro

Member of:

  • Kiwi recovery group
  • Banding advisory committee
  • Kiwi practitioners
  • Associate Investigator Te Pūnaha Matatini.

I am an ecologist/zoologist with broad interests including animal behaviour, parasite-host interactions, anatomy, morphology, sensory biology, and conservation. My research is on island species, particularly birds, but also introduced mammals and charismatic land snails of New Zealand. I have a passion for solving conservation problems, finding new biological wonders about animals, and working with technology.

Stephen Marsland and Isabel Castro

Marsden funding for acoustic bird recognition

Massey University's Stephen Marsland and Isabel Castro received Marsden funding in 2017 for the project: AviaNZ: Making Sure New Zealand Birds Are Heard.

AviaNZ is a project to develop an automated sound recorder that can detect, recognise, analyse, and infer bird populations using automated sound recorders.

Rutherford scholarship to protect endangered species

Jessica Hiscox Massey University researcher and Behavioural Ecology and Conservation Group student Jessica Hiscox has been awarded a three-year Rutherford Memorial PhD Scholarship to investigate the relationships between people and endangered wildlife in countries of extreme poverty.

'Attenborough's Big Birds' TV series

Sir David Attenborough's documentary 'Attenborough's Big Birds' (2015-2016) featured Dr Isabel Castro and kiwi from our study site. 

Given the high density of kiwi, and our research programme, our site was a perfect location to film the birds in their natural environment and show the world what the smallest of the big birds is like!