Nest predation and the evolution of life history traits in New Zealand birds

Guest lecture by Prof. James Briskie, University of Canterbury.

Unlike birds in most continental areas, birds on many isolated and oceanic islands evolved in an environment with few predators. For example, until humans (and their cargo of pests) arrived about 700 years ago, the native birds in New Zealand evolved in the complete absence of all terrestrial mammals and snakes. The only major predators present were other birds.  Islands like New Zealand thus provide an ideal situation in which to study how life history traits of birds vary with predation risk. In this talk, I will use the results from a variety of field studies to show how such low-risk environments appear to have shaped the behaviours and reproductive life histories of native birds in New Zealand. With exotic predators now firmly established on islands all around the world, including New Zealand, my studies also highlight how an understanding of the life history traits of island birds can help with their conservation.

Who is Jim Briskie?

1990 PhD Queen’s University, Canada
1990-1992 Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Sheffield, UK
1992-1994 Postdoctoral Fellow, Queen’s University, Canada
1994-1995 Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Montana, USA
1995-1997 Departmental Lecturer, University of Oxford, UK
1997-present Professor, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

Selected publications

Massaro, M., Stanbury, M. and Briskie, J.V. 2012. Nest site selection by the endangered black robin increases vulnerability to predation by an invasive bird. Animal Conservation doi:10.1111/acv.12007
Heber, S., Varsani, A., Kuhn, S., Girg, A., Kempenaers, B. and Briskie, J.V. 2013. The genetic rescue of two bottlenecked South Island robin populations using translocation of inbred donors. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 280: 20122228.
Starling-Windhof, A., Massaro, M. and Briskie, J.V. 2011. Differential effects of exotic predator-control on nest success of native and introduced birds in New Zealand. Biological Invasions 13: 1021-1028
Martin, T.E. and Briskie, J.V. 2009. Predation on dependent offspring: a review of the consequences for mean expression and phenotypic plasticity in avian life history traits. Annals New York Academy of Sciences 1168: 201-217.
Massaro, M., Starling-Windhof, A., Briskie, J.V. and Martin, T.E. 2008. Introduced mammalian predators induce behavioural changes in parental care in an endemic New Zealand bird. PLoS One 3(6): e2331.

Published Sep. 17, 2013 10:18 AM - Last modified Sep. 17, 2013 10:18 AM