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All Creatures,

Episode 45: Kiwi Conservation w/Dr. Helen Taylor

July 19, 2018

Dr. Helen Taylor & Research

Dr. Helen Taylor is a research fellow at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. Her work specializes on studying the affects of inbreeding on native species, especially threatened birds. The Little Spotted Kiwi was down to a population of 5 breeding animals and today numbers nearly 1500. Her PhD work studying the genetics of these animals will be critical in helping conservation specialists make the proper decisions when managing endangered species.

Please join us for a phenomenal interview with an incredible specialist. The following videos also give some highlights into her research:

Helen Taylor 180 Seconds of Science

Great Hihi Sperm Race

The following was taken from Dr. Helen Taylor’s Website:

My research focuses on the effects of population bottlenecks and inbreeding on threatened species.  Currently, I am investigating the sperm health of New Zealand South Island robins (Petroica australis australis) that have experienced various sizes of population bottlenecks.

My broad research interests include optimal techniques for detecting inbreeding depression in species of conservation concern, incorporating genetic monitoring into conservation strategy, measuring sperm motility in wild populations, measuring bird nesting success, population viability analysis and conservation prioritisation. Thanks to a career in public relations spanning six years, during which I worked for a variety of international organisations, I am also very interested in effective scientific communication and stakeholder engagement.  My previous scientific research includes assessing the loss of genetic diversity and the effect of inbreeding in little spotted kiwi (Apteryx owenii) and the use of DNA barcoding to resolve the phylogeny of the oystercatchers (Haematopus spp.)

If you have any questions about my work or would like more information about anything on the site, please feel free to get in touch:


Twitter: @HelenTaylorCG


Research Publications

2018 Stovall WR, Taylor HR, Black M, Grosser S, Rutherford K and Gemmell NJ Genetic sex assignment in wild populations using GBS data: a            statistical threshold approach Molecular Ecology Resources DOI: 10.1111/1755-0998.12767

2018 Dussex N, Taylor HR, Irestedt M and Robertson BC, When genetic and phenotypic data do not coincide: the conservation implications of            ignoring inconvenient taxonomic evidence New Zealand Journal of Ecology DOI: 10.20417/nzjecol.42.13  

2017  Lamb SD, Taylor HR, Holtmann B, Santos ESA, Tamayo JH, Johnson SL and Nakagawa S,Coprophagy in dunnocks (Prunella modularis):             A frequent behavior in females, infrequent in males, and very unusual in nestlingsWilson Journal of Ornithology 129: 615-620

2017  Taylor HR, Dussex N and van Heezik Y, De-extinction needs consultationNature Ecology and Evolution 1: 0198

2017  Taylor HR, Dussex N and van Heezik Y, Bridging the conservation genetics gap by identifying barriers to implementation for conservation           practitionersGlobal Ecology and Conservation 10:231-242

2017  Taylor HR, Colbourne RM, Robertson HA, Nelson NN, Allendorf FW and Ramstad KM, Cryptic inbreeding depression in a recovering long-           lived species, the little spotted kiwi (Apteryx owenii). Molecular Ecology 26: 799-813

2016   Kardos, M, Taylor, HR, Ellegren, H, Luikart, G and Allendorf, FW Genomics advances the study of inbreeding depression in the wild.                   Evolutionary Applications 9: 1205-1218

​2016   Taylor HR* & Soanes K*, Breaking out of the echo chamber: missed opportunities for genetics at conservation conferences​. Biodiversity           and Conservation 25:1987-1993 (*joint first authors)

2016   Taylor HR & Gemmell NJ, Emerging Technologies to Conserve Biodiversity: Further Opportunities via Genomics. Trends in Ecology and
Evolution. 31 171-172

2015   Taylor HRThe use and abuse of genetic marker based estimates of relatedness and inbreeding. Ecology and Evolution 5 3140-3150

2015    Weeks AR, Moro D, Thavornkanlapachai R, Taylor HR, White NE, Weiser EL and Heinze D, Conserving and enhancing genetic diversity              in translocation programmes, in Advances in Reintroduction Biology of Australian and New Zealand Fauna, Editors: Armstrong DP,                        Hayward MW, Moro D, Seddon PJ, CSIRO Publishing: Collingwood, VIC, Australia. p. 127-139

2015    Taylor HR, Allendorf FW, Ramstad KM and Kardos MK, Valid estimates of individual inbreeding coefficients from marker-based pedigrees            are not feasible in wild populations with low allelic diversity. Conservation Genetics 16 901-913

2014    Taylor HR, Nelson NJ and Ramstad KM, Chick Timer™ software proves an accurate, disturbance-minimizing tool for monitoring hatching            success in little spotted kiwi (Apteryx owenii). New Zealand Journal of Zoology 41 139-146

2012    Taylor HR and Harris WE, An emergent science on the brink of irrelevance: a review of the past 8 years of DNA barcoding. Molecular                Ecology Resources 12 377-388






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