Miss Hayley Alena

BSc, PgDipSci, MSc (first class honours)

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Doctoral Candidate - Doctor of Philosophy

Research | Current

PhD Research
My research focuses on how lizards (skinks & geckos) contribute to seed dispersal systems in New Zealand. Recent studies have highlighted the importance of fleshy fruit in the diets of lizards, particularly on islands. For its size, New Zealand has the largest richness of reptiles globally, thus seed dispersal by reptiles may be more common here than elsewhere. Lizard abundances are so low on mainland New Zealand that they may not be important contemporary seed dispersers; however, their pre-human abundances may have been sufficient that lizards contributed significantly to seed dispersal. Continued declines in New Zealand’s lizards are assumed to reduce dispersal effectiveness for some plant species; however, little is known about the importance of fruit in the diets of New Zealand lizards, and how they contribute to seed dispersal.

My supervisors are Professor George Perry and Associate Professor Janet Wilmshurst, and my advisors are Dr. Debra Wotton and Dr. Jo Monks. 

Masters Research

My masters thesis focused on why people volunteer for conservation projects, using the 'Bring Back the Birds' pest control project on Herald Island (Auckland, NZ) as a case study. Conservation 'leaders' were generally motivated by spending time alone in nature during childhood, by social influences in childhood, and adult experiences that strengthened and reinforced their interest in nature. The leaders were more immediately motivated by social and community motivations (e.g. wanting to be part of a group, wanting to give back to the community). Civic place attachment (attachment to the community) also predicted conservation leadership. For the rest of the island, volunteering for rat trapping was predicted by owning a house, by living on the island for longer, and by a concern for others (alturism). Civic and natural place attachment (attachment to the natural environment) also predicted different levels of involvement with the environmental group.

I was supervised by Professor James Russell and Professor Niki Harré.

Teaching | Current

I am currently a tutor in BIOSCI101 (Essential Biology) and BIOSCI109 (Ecology & Evolution), and a teaching assistant in BIOSCI399 (Capstone Biology) and BIOSCI107 (Biology for Biomedical Science). In 2020 I was a tutor in GEOG334 (Environmental Change) and ENVSCI101 (Environment, Science, and Management).


  • SRARNZ Herpetological Research Award (2021)
  • Lucy Cranwell Botanical Field Research Grant (2019)
  • University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship (2019)
  • Faculty of Science Sustainability Award (2017)
  • University of Auckland Masters Research Scholarship (2017)

Committees/Professional groups/Services

  • New Zealand Ecological Society 
  • New Zealand Plant Conservation Network
  • Society for Research on Amphibians and Reptiles in New Zealand (SRARNZ)

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Alena, H. (2018). What Motivates Conservation Volunteering? A Case Study of Community Conservation on Herald Island, New Zealand The University of Auckland. ResearchSpace@Auckland.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/45163

Contact details

Primary office location

SCIENCE CENTRE 305 - Bldg 305
Level B, Room B02
New Zealand