Current students:

Ella McCallum, PhD candidate, 2021

Ella is investigating individual differences in inhibitory control in wild toutouwai

Olivia Hartshorne, MSc candidate, 2021

Liv’s research examines sources of song complexity and seasonal song dynamics in male toutouwai.

Liv and co-supervisor Prof. Stephen Marsland set up a song recorder in Skeet's territory

Liv and co-supervisor Prof. Stephen Marsland set up a song recorder in Skeet’s territory

Isaac Armstrong, MSc candidate, 2020

Isaac’s research investigates how human presence and landscape use influence the behaviour and distribution of kākā.

Finley Johnson (Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga & Ngāti Rongomaiwahine), Research Assistant, 2020

Fin’s research examines the Mātauranga for kākā, with a focus on how understanding the nature of bio-cultural relationships between Māori and kākā.

Fin returns a newly banded kākā chick to its nest box.

Fin returns a newly banded kākā chick to its nest box.

Juniper Sprengers-Sanson (Waikato Tainui), Research Assistant, 2019

Juniper’s research examines the Mātauranga for kākā, with a focus understanding the changing dynamics in kākā plant interactions through time.

Tas Vámos, PhD candidate, 2019

Tas is investigating toutouwai spatial memory and examining how it influences caching behaviour.

Tas presents his research at NZES 2021

Tas presents his research at NZES 2021

Regan MacKinlay, PhD candidate, 2018

Regan’s research investigates individual variation in toutouwai nesting and foraging behaviors. Ultimately, he plans to draw on cognitive theory to try to promote adaptive, and deter maladaptive behavioral variation.

Previous students:

Daisy Abraham, BSc Hons, 2021

Daisy’s dissertation, ‘The effect of visitors on the behaviour of Nestor parrots’, examined how visitor presence at Wellington Zoo and Zealandia impacts the behaviour of kea and kākā (and it turns out they are mostly pretty ambivalent towards people!)

Daniel Donoghue, PhD, 2017 – 2020

Daniel’s thesis, ‘Social learning and networks in Nestor parrots‘, examined whether and how behavioural innovations can be socially transmitted in kea and kākā populations.


Nalini Singh, BSc Hons, 2019 – 2020

Nalini’s dissertation, ‘Food for thought: use and costs of supplementary feeding in a large parrot, the North Island kaka‘, investigated how supplementary feeding impacts the behaviour of Zealandia’s kākā.

Benjamin Rothenbühler, MSc, 2019 – 2020

Ben carried out toutouwai personality and learning research towards his Masters at the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland.

Caroline Warren, Research Intern, 2017

After completing an undergraduate degree back home in the States, Caroline joined our research group as an intern. From September until December 2017 she monitored the survival and reproduction of the robin study population.

Leonie Weltgen (MSc), 2016 – 2017

Leonie Weltgen completed her thesis, ‘Social learning in a wild food caching species, the North Island robin (Petroica longipes)’ , as part of her Masters degree at the Freie Universität Berlin.

Chris Woolley (Summer Scholar), 2016 – 2017

Chris was awarded a Summer Scholarship to study parent-offspring social learning dynamics. During the project he developed a new paradigm for studying social learning in robins.

Latu Clark (MSc), 2015 – 2016

Latu completed her MSc thesis, ‘Brood Division and the Ontogeny of Caching Behaviour in the North Island robin (Petroica longipes)’ in SBS at VUW. Here’s how she described her research:

“I am studying parent-offspring interactions in the North Island robin during the 2015/2016 breeding season. I hope to better understand the factors affecting parental care decisions in the lead up to brood division (which occurs when chicks leave the nest). Additionally, as North Island robins are one of only a few Southern Hemisphere species which cache food, a second aim of my thesis is to examine the ontogeny of food-caching in North Island robins and evaluate the role of parents in this developmental process.”

Regan MacKinlay (BSc, MConBio), 2015 – 2016

In Regan’s final BSc year in SBS at VUW he completed a research project examining the relationship between song complexity, caching and inhibitory control in robins. In 2016, Regan carried out another independent research project as part of his Masters in Conservation Biology. For this project he investigated the relationship between territory size, foraging efficiency and reproductive success in robins.

Julia Loepelt (PhD), 2013 – 2016

Marie Courteville (MSc), 2015

Marie completed her thesis, ‘Natal dispersal and dispersal behaviour of North Island robins in a mainland island sanctuary‘, as part of her Masters at a Gembloux Agro Bio-Tech University in Belgium.

Curious robins (courtesy of M. Courteville)

Curious robins (courtesy of M. Courteville)