Dr Margaret Stanley (Associate Professor)

Margaret leads the research group. She is an ecologist (biosecurity and conservation) in the School of Biological Sciences at University of Auckland. After gaining her PhD from Monash University, Margaret worked as a postdoc at Landcare Research, and latterly as a scientist and programme leader. She moved to the University of Auckland in 2007 as a new mum, to develop a new MSc programme in Biosecurity and Conservation.

Margaret’s interests in ecology are diverse, but her research primarily seeks to understand and mitigate human impacts (e.g. urbanisation, invasive species) on terrestrial biodiversity and ecosystems (particularly via disruption of community level interactions, e.g. plant-animal mutualisms).  She is also interested in how conservation can benefit from increasing the connection between people and nature. Although most her research has applied outcomes, she also undertakes research on the co-evolutionary aspects of plant-animal interactions.

Anna Probert (PhD Candidate)

Anna is a PhD candidate who is investigating risk to native ecosystems, using exotic ants as a model. Her research investigates where exotic ants are most likely to establish and the mechanisms through which they impact recipient ecosystems. She has previously researched the behavioural ecology and weaponry of harvestmen in the subfamily Megalopsalidinae and is fascinated by the natural world in general.

Ellery McNaughton (PhD Candidate)

Ellery is a PhD candidate looking at the effects of artificial light at night on urban wildlife. Her PhD project investigates whether retrofitting streetlights with light-emitting diodes (LEDs) affects wildlife community composition and the timing of bird song. Her Honours research explored the relationship between bird feeding and behaviour patterns of common myna, and she is passionate about nature and conservation in general, and birds in particular.

Carolina Lara (PhD Candidate)

Carolina is a PhD candidate at the University of Auckland. She is interested in bird-plant mutualistic interactions with a focus on conservation and restoration of ecosystems and services. Her PhD project looks at frugivory networks in urban forest fragments across an ecological corridor in Auckland, New Zealand. She got a bachelor´s degree in Biology in 2009 and has been interested in birds and conservation ever since.


Rachael Sagar (PhD Candidate, main supervisor Dr Brendan Dunphy)

Rachael’s doctoral research focuses on mottled petrels (Pterodroma inexpectata) – the physiological impacts of translocation on chicks as well as the birds’ current and historical foraging ecology and how climate change and other issues may affect this. Mottled petrels are what we call “range-restricted” – they breed at only a few sites in southern New Zealand. Rachael is passionate about seabird conservation.

Daria Erastova (PhD Candidate)

Daria is a PhD candidate studying the influence of garden sugar feeders on  tui behaviour and health, and whether feeders alter the contribution tui make to pollinating indigenous plants. Her work investigates whether sugar feeders  transmit  potential avian pathogens and if such a year-round practice can lead to changes in tui social structure, thus altering their pollination patterns. She has accomplished her Master thesis in Biology in 2011 at St. Petersburg State University and now she is interested in birds’ behaviour, ecology and conservation.

Yen Yi Loo (PhD candidate, main supervisor Dr Kristal Cain)

Yen Yi is a PhD candidate working on an endemic New Zealand wren, the rifleman (Acanthisitta chloris). Her study aims to determine whether the rifleman are vocal learners by investigating the ontogeny and temporal changes in their vocal parameters, and its implication on the evolutionary origins of vocal learning in the avian phylogenetic tree. Her MSc project explored the quality of citizen science data for studying continental scale migration patterns. She is passionate about connecting people with nature through the world of birds, sounds and data.

Ines Moran (PhD Candidate, main supervisor Dr Kristal Cain)

Ines Moran is a Ph.D. candidate working on bioacoustics, vocal ecology of birds and animal communication networks. Her research investigates the evolution of vocal learning in birds, and focuses on dialects and vocal behaviours of kinship groups in the titpounamu/rifleman (Acanthisitta chloris) in New Zealand. Her MSc research focussed on the aggressive escalation interactions and seasonal vocal variation of Savannah Sparrows (Passer sandwichensis) in Canada. Many questions about animal communication remain to be answered, and in her spare time, she likes to think about ideas to solve them to further explore the world of animal sounds.


Tess O’Malley  (PhD Candidate, main supervisor Assoc. Prof. James Russell)


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