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Behavioural ecology

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

Our research

Cristabel Godoy from Universidad Austral de Chile is coming to do her masters data collection. She is going to look at the relationship between personality, song quality and parasites in tieke.

Isable Castro is working with Karen Mason from Plant and Food in a pilot project looking at the possible role of our native birds in providing services to agriculture. They travelled to Colombia in 2017 and visited a farm that grows wild coffee. Coffee plants are basically planted under the forest and the coffee they produce is delicious! Birds, native insects and other native animals protect the coffee from agricultural insect pests that cannot survive the competition with these species in their forest habitat. The number of coffee plants is reduced when compared to coffee grown in monocultures, but the quality and cheaper production costs well made for it according to the farmer.

Back in New Zealand we are investigating the possible role of our species first, by collecting the faeces of insectivorous species in areas where fruits are grown to see what they eat and whether some bad insects are in their diet. We are also investigating food preferences of some of our frugivorous and nectivorous birds to study whether they are interested in market fruits.

One of our ideas is to look at the role of kiwi in farms. We found years ago that brown kiwi catches more prey per unit of time when foraging in pasture and that they eat grass grubs and crickets in abundance; this suggests that kiwi may be farmers friends. Also could kiwi eat other pests that affect other crops? We will investigate the foraging behaviour of kiwi in vineyards to see if the role of kiwi as an ecosystem engineer can be expanded to agriculture


Collaborators (supervisors and advisors)

Past postgraduate students

PhD

Matthew Low

2004

The behavioral ecology of forced copulation in the New Zealand stitchbird (Hihi) : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Zoology at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.

Gaylynne Marie Carter

2012

The behavioural response of a small prey animal to the odour cues of familiar predators in a New Zealand model system : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Zoology at Massey University, Manawatu, New Zealand.

Juan Carlos Garcia Ramirez

2014

The influence of space and time on the genetic architecture of species in rails (Aves: Rallidae) : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Zoology at Massey University, Manawatu, New Zealand.

Kate Richardson

2015

Dispersal: the effects of phenotype and habitat selection in reintroduced populations : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Zoology at Massey University, Manawatu, New Zealand.

Masters

Matthew Donald Wong

2002

Spacing and ecology of the Australasian harrier (Circus approximans) in the Rangitikei-Manawatu sand country : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Science in Zoology at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.

Rose Thorogood

2004

Decisions mothers make: food availability and maternal investment of hihi (Notiomystis cincta) – sex success and offspring quality : a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of Master of Science in Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.

Troy Dahya Makan

2006

The stitchbird (hihi-- Notiomystis cincta) and its habitat : effects on nesting behaviour and reproductive success : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Science in Conservation Biology at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.

Joanne Maree Thorne

2007

An experimental approach to translocation of the North Island saddleback (Philesturnus carunculatus rufusater) to Bushy Park Reserve, Wanganui : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Science in Conservation Biology at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.

Esta Monique Chappell

2008

Morphology, phylogeography and drumming behaviour of a New Zealand ground weta, Hemiandrus pallitarsis : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Conservation Biology at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.

Kirsty Marie Denny

2009

The diet of moreporks (Ninox novaeseelandiae) in relation to prey availability, and their roost site characteristics and breeding success on Ponui Island, Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Ecology at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand.

Kate Mackinnon Richardson

2009

Reintroducing hihi (Notiomystis cincta) to the New Zealand mainland : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Ecology at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.

Sarah Michelle van Herpt

2009

Effects of translocation on kokako (Callaeas cinerea wilsoni) song and its application to management : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Conservation Biology at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.

Rachel Lynn Turner

2011

Monitoring strategies for the giant land snail Powelliphanta traversi tararuaensis (Gastropoda: Pulmonata: Rhytididae) : an assessment and exploration of current and future techniques : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Conservation Biology at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.

Alex Brighten

2015

Vocalisations of the New Zealand Morepork (Ninox novaeseelandiae) on Ponui Island : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Zoology at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.

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