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.

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, Tennyson AJD, Robertson HA, Colbourne RM, Ramstad KM. 2021. Hybridisation in kiwi (Apteryx; Apterygidae) requires taxonomic revision for the Great Spotted Kiwi. Avian Research 12 (1): 1-13

Shepherd LD, Miskelly CM, Cherel Y, Tennyson AJD. 2022. Genetic identification informs on the distributions of vagrant Royal (Eudyptes schlegeli) and Macaroni (Eudyptes chrysolophus) Penguins. Polar Biology 44: 2299-2306.

Shepherd LD, Miskelly CM, Bulgarella M, Tennyson AJD. 2022. Genomic analyses of fairy and fulmar prions (Procellariidae: Pachyptila spp.) reveals parallel evolution of bill morphology, and multiple species. Plos ONE 17 (9): e0275102