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 a Principal Investigator at the Centre of Research Excellence Te Pūnaha Matatini. I recently won a Marsden Fast Start grant to investigate the evolution of monogyny in Dolomedes spiders, and completed a Rutherford Postdoctoral Fellowship on the mating dynamics of New Zealand 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 an Associate Editor at  Insect Conservation and Diversity, and the New Zealand Journal of Zoology. Please get in touch if you’d like to know more about submitting to these journals, especially if you’re a student or early career researcher.  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 to learn ways we can make science and the academy a more inclusive and equitable environment for all. We meet weekly for lab group meetings with our friends in the EcoDiv Lab, where we discuss inequity & different approaches to science…and sometimes we share baking! 


The great 2023 Painting/EcoDiv lab group Feijoa Bake-off

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