Associate Professor Margaret Stanley

BSc(Hons) (Otago); PhD (Monash)

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Associate Professor

Research | Current

Terrestrial Ecology & Conservation (Research Group Website)

My interests in ecology are diverse (research areas and taxa), but my research seeks to understand and mitigate human impacts on terrestrial biodiversity and ecosystems (particularly via disruption of community level interactions, e.g. plant-animal mutualisms).  My  primary research focusses on the impacts and mitigation of both invasive species and urban development. Although much of my research is applied ecology, I do undertake research on the co-evolutionary aspects of plant-animal interactions.

Teaching | Current

BIOSCI 109 Ecology & Evolution (Course Director)

BIOSCI 394 Terrestrial Ecology & Conservation (Coordinator)

BIOSCI 747 Biosecurity & Invasion Biology (Coordinator)

BIOSCI 748 Weed & Pest Management (Coordinator)

Postgraduate supervision

Urban Ecology

  • Light Pollution impacts (artificial light at night)
  • Road ecology: how plants and animals (native and invasive) interact with roads
  • Interaction between native and introduced organisms in urban areas (e.g. birds)
  • Connectivity of urban areas with natural areas (particularly pest movement)
  • Enhancing biodiversity/restoration

Invasive Ecology

  • Impacts of invasive animals/invertebrates on native communities (particularly on ecological functions such as pollination/seed dispersal)
  • Ecology and impact of newly established pest species
  • Invasive species and climate change
  • Competition+/or facilitation among multiple invasive species
  • Dispersal of weed seeds by birds

Plant-animal interactions (native and/or exotic systems)

  • Seed dispersal and pollination within communities
  • Plant defences – interactions with herbivores

Lab group members

FOR Further info: see 

Current Students:

Rosie Gerolemou (PhD)

The Social and Ecological Benefits of Backyard Rat Trapping

Cathy Nottingham (PhD) Effects of landscape connectivity on invasive mammalian predators in agricultural ecosystems
Daria Erastova (PhD) The influence of garden sugar feeders on native bird behaviour and health
Yen Yi Loo (co-supervisor, PhD) Rifleman vocal learning
Ines Moran (co-supervisor, PhD) Avian bioacoustics

Tess O’Malley (PhD, co-supervisor)

Competition between invasive predators

Juliane Gaviraghi Mussoi (PhD, co-supervisor)

The effects of sleep on vocal performance
Olivia Rooke-Devoy (PhD, co-supervisor) Realising the Opportunities of Lawns for Urban Environmental Mitigation
Pei Man (PhD, AUT, co-supervisor) Ecology of insects in NZ agroecosystems
Abigail Cunninghame (MSc) Biodiversity in schools


Previous students:

Sandy Huang (MSc, 2020) The composition and condition of Auckland street trees
Rachel Sagar (PhD, 2019) Foraging ecology of the mottled petrel (Pterodroma inexpectata)
Ellery McNaughton (PhD, 2019) The effect of artificial light at night on native avian behaviour and ecosystem services
Carolina Lara Mendoza (PhD, 2019) Plant-frugivore interactions in an urbanised landscape
Anna Probert (PhD, 2019) Assessing risk to native ecosystems: using exotic ants as models
Cathy Nottingham (MSc, 2018) The impact of hedgehogs on urban forest fragments

Robert Vennell (MSc, 2017)

Estimating a damage function for feral pig disturbance

Josie Galbraith (PhD, 2016)

Does supplementary feeding contribute to the success of introduced bird species?
Samantha Lincoln (MSc, 2016) Interactions between domestic cats and rats in urban environments

Rebecca Lehrke  (MSc, 2016, co-supervisor)

Assessing the efficacy of disturbance-based management of black swans at the Auckland Airport

Sam Heggie-Gracie (MSc, 2016)

Identifying drivers of urban avian assemblages at different scales

Jessica Devitt (MSc, 2016)

Are native plant species within the host range of the introduced hadda beetle?

Christine Sheppard (PhD, 2014)

Potential distribution and invasiveness of newly established alien plants under different climate change scenarios.

Claire Warren (MSc, 2014)

Kick-starting secondary succession in old fields: can artificial perches influence seed rain?

Ellery McNaughton (BSc Hons, 2013)

The effect of supplementary feeding on Indian mynah in urban areas.


Eru Nathan (MSc, 2013)

Mammalian predator pest management: effectiveness and extent.

Cheryl Krull (PhD, 2012)

Impact and management of feral pigs in temperate rainforest

Vinni Pather (MSc, 2012)

The ecology and future invasive potential of Jatropha curcas as a biofuel crop in New Zealand.

Saronna Auina (MSc, 2011)

The impact of Anopolepis gracilipes (yellow crazy ants) on invertebrate communities in Nu’utele, Samoa.

Murray Fea (MSc, 2011)

Reproductive ecology and impact of the invasive praying mantis Miomantis caffra

Jarrod Thompson (MSc, 2010)

Coexistence in ant communities invaded by the ecologically dominant Argentine ant

Kenneth Sung (MSc, 2005)

Environmental limitations of Argentine ants

Robin Gardner-Gee (BSc Hons, 2004)

Invertebrates and restoration: testing restoration assumptions and assessing restoration success on Motuora Island.

Areas of expertise

Biodiversity, Biosecurity and Conservation

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.
  • Bassett, I. E., McNaughton, E. J., Plank, G. D., & Stanley, M. C. (2020). Cat ownership and Proximity to Significant Ecological Areas Influence Attitudes Towards Cat Impacts and Management Practices. Environmental management, 66 (1), 30-41. 10.1007/s00267-020-01289-2
  • Probert, A. F., Ward, D. F., Beggs, J. R., Allison-Maxwell, W., & Stanley, M. C. (2020). Invasion patterns of non-native ants in natural ecosystems in warm, temperate New Zealand. NEW ZEALAND JOURNAL OF ECOLOGY, 44 (1)10.20417/nzjecol.44.6
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jacqueline Beggs, Darren Ward
  • Probert, A. F., Ward, D. F., Beggs, J. R., Lin, S.-L., & Stanley, M. C. (2020). Conceptual Risk Framework: Integrating Ecological Risk of Introduced Species with Recipient Ecosystems. BIOSCIENCE, 70 (1), 71-79. 10.1093/biosci/biz131
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Darren Ward, Jacqueline Beggs
  • Yletyinen, J., Brown, P., Pech, R., Hodges, D., Hulme, P. E., Malcolm, T. F., ... Richardson, S. J. (2019). Understanding and Managing Social-Ecological Tipping Points in Primary Industries. BIOSCIENCE, 69 (5), 335-347. 10.1093/biosci/biz031
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: George Perry
  • Sagar, R. L., Cockrem, J., Rayner, M. J., Stanley, M. C., Welch, J., & Dunphy, B. J. (2019). Regular handling reduces corticosterone stress responses to handling but not condition of semi-precocial mottled petrel (Pterodroma inexpectata) chicks. General and comparative endocrinology, 272, 1-8. 10.1016/j.ygcen.2018.11.004
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Brendon Dunphy
  • Nottingham, C. M., Glen, A. S., & Stanley, M. C. (2019). Snacks in the city: The diet of hedgehogs in Auckland urban forest fragments. New Zealand Journal of Ecology, 43 (2).10.20417/nzjecol.43.24
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Cathy Nottingham
  • Nottingham, C. M., Glen, A. S., & Stanley, M. C. (2019). Proactive development of invasive species damage functions prior to species reintroduction. GLOBAL ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION, 1710.1016/j.gecco.2019.e00534
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Cathy Nottingham
  • Sagar, R. L., Mitchell, C., Rayner, M. J., Stanley, M. C., & Dunphy, B. J. (2019). Maximising success: Translocation does not negatively impact stress reactivity and development in petrel chicks. GLOBAL ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION, 1710.1016/j.gecco.2018.e00508
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Brendon Dunphy


Contact details

Primary office location

Level 1, Room 152
New Zealand

Social links

Web links