Nau mai, haere mai! Welcome to the Invertebrate Behavioural Ecology & Conservation lab led by Chrissie Painting.

About Chrissie:

I’m a behavioural ecologist focussing on what drives diversity in animal mating systems, with a particular interest in  exaggerated traits (weapons & ornaments), and the fascinating mating strategies that accompany them. This fits into a central goal of evolutionary biology which seeks to understand patterns in the variation of animal phenotypes. My research is primarily on arthropods including beetles, harvestmen, and spiders, combining multiple approaches including field and lab experiments, molecular and comparative evolution techniques, morphometrics, and microCT xray reconstructions. I have a broad interest in many aspects of natural history and evolutionary biology, but I tend to be drawn to peculiar-looking creatures that have so far escaped much scientific attention. I believe working on a wide range of non-model taxa is crucial to understanding the drivers of biological variation. 

I’m a Senior Lecturer in Te Aka Mātuatua School of Science and the Environmental Research Institute at the University of Waikato and an Associate Investigator at the Centre of Research Excellence Te Pūnaha Matatini. I’m also a current Rutherford Postdoctoral Fellow doing exciting sexual selection research on NZ giraffe weevils. I’d love to hear from you if you’re looking for collaborations or postgraduate opportunities in behavioural ecology, entomology, morphology, or conservation. I’m currently an Associate Editor at the New Zealand Journal of Zoology and on the editorial board for Behavioral Ecology. I’m also currently a guest editor at Evolutionary Ecology, seeking submissions for a special issue on allometry. Google scholar citations – here


The Invertebrate Behavioural Ecology & Conservation lab is all about diversity – in our approach to lab culture as well as how we study animals. We recognise that diversity brings strength, so as a group we are always striving for ways we can make science and the academy a more inclusive and equitable environment for all. 


Academic work history

  • 2021 – present: Senior Lecturer, University of Waikato

  • 2019 – 2021: Lecturer, University of Waikato

  • 2016 – 2019: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Auckland (Dr Greg Holwell)

  • 2015 – 2016 : Postdoctoral Research Fellow, National University of Singapore (A/P Daiqin Li)

  • 2014: Kate Edger Educational Trust Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Auckland (Dr Greg Holwell & Dr Robert Hoare)

  • 2013-2014: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Auckland (Dr Greg Holwell)

  • 2009-2013: PhD University of Auckland, NZ (Dr Greg Holwell & A/P Thomas Buckley)

  • 2009: Lab Technician, Ministry of Primary Industries (previously Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry)

  • 2004-2007: Bachelor of Science with 1st Class Hons Lincoln University, NZ (Prof Richard Duncan & Dr Ecki Brockerhoff)

Night field work in Wairata, East Cape of New Zealand

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