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 of her research has applied outcomes, she also undertakes research on the co-evolutionary aspects of plant-animal interactions.

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.

Cathy Nottingham (PhD Candidate)

Cathy is a PhD candidate studying the effects of landscape connectivity on invasive mammalian predators in agricultural ecosystems. Her study aims to determine occupancy of a range of invasive mammals and to look at feral cat movement on farms with differing levels of landscape connectivity. Her MSc project studied the impact of hedgehogs in urban forest fragments. She is particularly interested in the ecology of invasive mammalian predators in New Zealand.


Rosie Gerolemou (PhD Candidate)

Rosie is a PhD candidate researching the social and ecological effects of rodent trapping in Auckland. Her study aims to investigate the impact trapping has on the fledging success of New Zealand fantails (Rhipidura fuliginosa), as well as the effect participation in trapping has on people’s attitudes towards large-scale predator control. Her main research interests are human-wildlife conflict, invasive species and the use of GIS as a tool for 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.

Juliane Gaviraghi Mussoi (PhD Candidate, Main supervision: Dr Kristal Cain)

Juliane is a PhD candidate working on cognition, complex vocalization and sexual selection of tomtit/miromiro (Petroica macrocephala). Her study aims to investigate whether individuals with high cognitive abilities also have a more complex song repertoire and a higher reproductive success. Her MSc research focused on mirror-mediated spatial location and problem-solving in great tits (Parus major). Juliane is passionate about understanding the cognitive aspects of bird behaviour.


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

Tess is a PhD candidate investigating possum control. She is working as part of a team to test a novel possum detection and removal network installed in Egmont National Park by the Department of Conservation, as part of the Taranaki Mounga and Predator Free Taranaki projects. Her research follows two avenues of inquiry: how can we detect and reduce possums to zero-density levels over a large landscape, and how does possum control affect rat populations with specific emphasis on competitor release? In addition to invasive species control, Tess is interested in animal cognition and behaviour.

Olivia Rooke-Devoy (PhD candidate, main supervisor Assoc. Prof. Bruce Burns)

Olivia is a PhD candidate studying urban lawns in Auckland. Building on previous research she conducted for her BSc(Hons) project, Olivia intends to investigate the social and ecological characteristics of lawns in Auckland. Using this knowledge, she will also explore new ways to plan, design and manage lawns, in an effort to promote lawn ecosystem services and functioning. Olivia’s broader research interests encompass applied ecology and conservation, especially from an interdisciplinary perspective.


Abigail Cunninghame (MSc student)

Abigail is a MSc student examining the importance of greenspaces on primary schools and how these areas can be used to positively contribute to urban biodiversity and regional/national conservation initiatives. Her thesis aims to evaluate the physical ecology, as well as the attitudes and motivations of teachers towards environmental education and barriers to using these spaces. Abigail is particularly interested in combining ecology and social science to engage younger generations for a more biodiverse future.

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