Susan Cunningham

Doctor of Philosophy, (Behavioural Ecology)
Study Completed: 2010
College of Sciences


Thesis Title
Tactile senses and foraging in birds with emphasis on kiwi

Read article at Massey Research Online: MRO icon

The sensory world of birds contains senses which are very different to those of other animals and in many cases have not previously been described. Ms Cunningham described and tested anewly discovered sensory system called remote touch in kiwi and ibises. This sense was first described in another group of probing birds, the shorebirds. Her findings show that birds that probe, despite belonging to very different family groups, have independently evolved the same solution to the same foraging problem. Her findings have expanded our knowledge of how the birds sense their world and how evolution will favour key adaptations across different groups of animals. This research also adds to our knowledge of the biology of our national icon, the kiwi

Professor Isabel Castro
Associate Professor Maurice Alley
Professor Murray Potter
Associate Professor Martin Wild