Dr Michael Anderson
FoRST Postdoctoral Fellow
Building 4, Gate 4
Phone: +64 9 4140800 ext 41598
Fax: +64 9 443 9790
My research focuses on avian brood parasitism systems. Brood parasites are species that exploit other species, by tricking them into raising their offspring for them. In recent years, there have been considerable advances in the understanding the selective pressures imposed by brood parasites and their hosts on each other, but there remain many questions about the degree to which coevolutionary arms races escalate between host and parasite.
My PhD research focused on the coevolution of brood parasites and their hosts, using cuckoos in New Zealand and Europe. This research focused on adaptations at the nestling stage, examining the evolution of parent-offspring acoustic communication systems, cost involved with egg eviction behaviour and latitudinal gradients of brood parasitism.
During my postdoctoral fellowship in Canada I examined developmental stress in Brown-headed Cowbirds, in collaboration with Liana Zanette. This research focuses on the effects of compensatory growth, a specific form of developmental stress, on cowbird multiple aspects of physiology.
My current research is focused on the potential to use reintroductions as a conservation tool for brood parasites. Reintroductions are a widely used conservation tool aimed at returning species to parts of their natural range based on detailed knowledge about the biology of the species being moved. The reintroduction of threatened avian brood parasites that require a host species to raise their offspring is a complex conservation endeavour, especially when their host species are also endangered. I will be conducting research on the Long-tailed Cuckoo, a brood parasite that has a declining population, in New Zealand.