Recovery of Chatham Island Black Robin

    Impact: Environmental Impact

    Impact summary

    The project initially investigated Long-term consequences of population bottlenecks and how decreased genetic diversity is affecting population health and viability in the Chatham Island black robin, but now extends to the recovery of this highly endangered species. For example, PhD student Dena Paris researched habitat and diet preferences of the black robin to estimate the carrying capacity. PhD student Clare Lawrence published a paper on how predation by invasive Common starlings influences black robin nest site selection.
    The research informs management of this species on the Chatham Islands, with management decisions based on our results. This is an ongoing process. In the early years we created a virtual field trip in collaboration with LEARNZ. The virtual field trip Ancient New Zealand: Chatham Islands, is experienced through a series of video and photographic footage hosted by the LEARNZ site (
    My 2013 publication on Human-assisted spread of a maladaptive behaviour received attention from National Geographic, New Scientist, the Conservation Magazine published by the University of Washington, and numerous other newspapers and popular science magazines around the world. 
    Results of this study are discussed and provide an example in An Introduction to Molecular Ecology by G. Rowe, M. Sweet and T. Beebee (University of Derby, UK), which was published by Oxford University Press in January 2017. 

    The research on the endangered black robin led to features in the third part of the BBC documentary “New Zealand: Earth’s Mystical Islands” produced and directed by Nick Easton of BBC’s Natural History Unit in Bristol. This segment of the documentary covers the impact of humans on New Zealand’s fauna.
    Impact date04 Feb 201331 Dec 2018
    Category of impactEnvironmental Impact
    Impact levelBenefit


    • species recovery
    • endangered species

    Countries where impact occurred

    • New Zealand