Doug Armstrong

Professor of Conservation Biology, Massey University

Research Programme
Selected Publications
Postdoctoral Fellows & Graduate Students
Role in Reintroduction Specialist Group
Contact Information

Research Programme

My research since 1992 has mainly focused on population dynamics of reintroduced forest birds, targetting questions that need to be answered to improve the success of reintroduction programs.  The bulk of this research has involved toutouwai (New Zealand robins), hihi (stitchbirds), and tieke (saddlebacks) on offshore islands or mainland forest fragments, and has addressed four general questions:

These questions make of four of the 10 key questions that Phil Seddon and I advocated in our 2008 paper "Directions in reintroduction biology" (see below).  Examples of individual research projects are given in the selected publications below, and information on the reintroductions is given on the rundown of New Zealand reintroduction projects on the RSG Oceania web site.  See for research related to hihi conservation.

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Recent Publications

Armstrong, D.P. et al. (2014). Strategic control of exotic rodents for restoring populations of native species in forest fragments. Conservation Biology 28: 713723.

Armstrong, D.P., Brooks,R.J. (2014). Estimating ages of turtles from growth data. Chelonian Conservation and Biology 13:9-15.

Seddon, P.J., Griffiths, C.J., Soorae, P.S., Armstrong, D.P. (2014). Reversing defaunation: restoring species in a changing world. Science 345: 406-412.

Richardson, K., Castro, I., Brunton, D., Armstrong, D.P. (2014) Not so soft? Delayed release reduces long-term survival in a passerine reintroduction. Oryx FirstView doi:10.1017/S0030605313001014.

Ruffell, J., Didham, R.K., Barrett, P., Gorman, N., Pike, R., Hickey-Elliott, A., Sievwright, K., Armstrong, D.P. (2014). Discriminating the drivers of edge effects on nest predation: forest edges reduce capture rates of ship rats (Rattus rattus), a globally invasive nest predator, by altering vegetation structure. PLoS ONE, in press.

Armstrong, D.P. et al. (2013). Using radio-tracking data to predict post-release establishment in reintroductions to habitat fragments. Biological Conservation 168: 152160.

Armstrong, D.P., Brooks,R.J. (2013). Application of hierarchical biphasic growth models to long-term data for snapping turtles. Ecological Modelling 250:119125.

Armstrong, D.P., Ewen, J.G. (2013) Consistency, continuity and creativity: long-term studies of population dynamics on Tiritiri Matangi Island. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 37: 288-297.

Chauvenet, A.L.M., Ewen, J.G., Armstrong, D.P., Blackburn, T.M., Pettorelli, N. (2013). Maximizing the success of assisted colonizations. Animal Conservation 16: 161169.

Chauvenet, A.L.M., Ewen, J.G., Armstrong, D.P, Pettorelli, N. (2013). Saving the hihi under climate change: a case for assisted colonization. Journal of Applied Ecology doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12150.

Converse, S.J., Moore, C.T., Armstrong, D.P. (2013) Demographics of reintroduced populations: estimation, modeling, and decision analysis. Journal of Wildlife Management 77: 10811093.

Gedir, J.V., Thorne, J.M., Brider, K., Armstrong, D.P. (2013). Using prior data to improve models for reintroduced populations: a case study with North Island saddlebacks. Journal of Wildlife Management 77:1114-1123.

Getzlaff, C.L., Sievwright, K.A., Hickey-Elliott, A.B., Armstrong, D.P. (2013) Predator indices from artificial nests and tracking tunnels: do they tell the same story? New Zealand Journal of Ecology 37:232-239.

Parker, K.A., Ewen, J.G., Seddon, P.J., Armstrong, D.P. (2013). Post-release monitoring of bird translocations: why is it important and how do we do it? Notornis 60: 85-92.

Parlato, E.H., Armstrong, D.P. (2013). Predicting post-release establishment using data from multiple reintroductions. Biological Conservation 160: 97104.

Rout, T.M., McDonald-Madden, E., Martin, T.G., Mitchell, N.J., Possingham, H.P., Armstrong, D.P. (2013). How to decide whether to move species threatened by climate change. PLoS ONE 8(10): e75814.

Thorogood, R., Armstrong, D.P., Low, M., Brekke, P., Ewen, J.G. (2013). The value of long-term ecological research: integrating knowledge for conservation of hihi on Tiritiri Matangi Island. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 37: 288-297.

Walker, L.K., Armstrong, D.P., Brekke, P., Chauvenet, A.L.M., Kilner, R.M., Ewen, J.G. (2013). Giving hihi a helping hand: assessment of alternative rearing diets in food supplemented populations of an endangered bird. Animal Conservation 16: 538-545.


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Current Graduate Students

Elizabeth Parlato, PhD student (An integrated approach for developing monitoring and management strategies for mainland reintroductions)
Kate Richardson, PhD student (Predicting post-release dispersal following reintroductions of the endangered hihi)
Emma Williams, PhD student (Developing monitoring methods for cryptic species: using call-counts to index abundance of Australasian bittern)
Julia Panfylova, MSc student (Assessment of population dynamics of reintroduced New Zealand Hihi in Bushy Park)
Jenny Gollin, MSc student ( Effect of rat eradication on the lizard fauna on Kapiti Island)

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Role in Reintroduction Specialist Group

I currently chair the Oceania Section of the Reintroduction Specialist Group (RSG). The RSG is one of several specialist groups within the Species Survival Commission which is part of the IUCN. My role is to advise on various issues to do with reintroduction, facilitate contact between Oceania reintroduction practitioners and reintroduction practitioners overseas, and facilitate networking among reintroduction practitioners in Oceania. One initiative was creating the RSG Oceania web site, which provides extensive information on what's going on in reintroduction in Australasia, particularly in New Zealand.

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I run a Postgraduate Programme in Conservation Biology which offers an MSc (coursework worth 100 points plus a thesis) and PGDipSc (coursework only).  I am the coordinator and principal contributor for postgraduate papers in Conservation Biology (232.701) and Wildlife Management (232.703), coordinate the undergraduate paper in Applied Ecology and Resource Management (196.315) and also contribute to undergraduate courses in Ecology and Conservation (196.205) , Fauna of New Zealand (199.206) and Community Ecology (196.317).  Click HERE to see information on these papers, including brief descriptions and timetables.

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Contact Information

Address: Ecology 624, Massey University, PB 11222, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Phone:  +64 6 356 9099 ext 7801 (International); (06) 356 9099 ext 7801 (National)
Fax:  +64 6 350 5623 (International); (06) 350 5623 (National)
Click HERE to email me