Evolution and conservation of New Zealand birds

Te Papa researchers: Lara Shepherd, Colin Miskelly and Alan Tennyson

We are using genetic (DNA sequencing and microsatellites) and genomic (ddRADSeq) techniques to elucidate the relationships of New Zealand birds and inform conservation priorities.

We use both modern and ancient specimens (museum skins and bones). Focal species include prions (Pachyptila spp.) and other seabirds, kiwi, weka and snipe.

A man looking at a tray of dead birds lined up in a row


Alan Tennyson looking at a selection of Te Papa’s prion skins. Photo by Lara Shepherd. Te Papa

Main collaborators: Nic Rawlence and Bruce Robertson (University of Otago), Kristina Ramstad (University of South Carolina Aiken).

Funding: Rutherford Discovery Fellowship.

Representative publications:

Shepherd LD, Bulgarella M, Haddrath O, Miskelly CM. 2020. Genetic analyses reveal an unexpected refugial population of subantarctic snipe (Coenocorypha aucklandica). Notornis 67: 403-418.

Tennyson AJD, Shepherd LD. 2017. DNA reveals the relationships of the extinct Scarlett’s Shearwater Puffinus spelaeus (Procellariiformes: Procellariidae). Journal of Ornithology 158: 379-384.

Trewick SA, Pilkington S, Shepherd LD, Gibb GC, Morgan Richards M. 2017. Closing the gap: avian lineage splits at a young, narrow seaway imply a protracted history of mixed population response. Molecular Ecology 26: 5752-5772.