Research Fellow
Conservation management
Conservation/Evolutionary genetics
Anthropogenic threats
Sexual selection/Reproductive failure
Contact details

Institute of Zoology
Zoological Society of London
Regent's Park
United Kingdom

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Patricia Brekke's research focus is on adaptation and the ecological, genetic and evolutionary consequences of conservation interventions and management of species under anthropogenic threat.

To do this she applies genetic, quantitative genetic and genomic techniques to wild and captive-bred populations of threatened birds. She collaborates closely with government bodies, NGOs/charities and community groups, which enables her to successfully apply her research.

hihi birds in hand

More recently, she has been developing a program of research on emergent threats to wildlife looking specifically at the impact of air pollution from vehicle emissions on wildlife genetic health using the invasive Eastern grey squirrel as a model system.

read more about Patricia's research

Professional history
  • Institute of Zoology, ZSL. UK        IOZ Fellow        2013
  • Institute of Zoology, ZSL. UK        AXA Fellow       2011
  • Institute of Zoology, ZSL. UK        PDRA                2010
  • Imperial College London, UK        Ph.D.                 2009
  • Sheffield University,UK                 B.Sc.                  2002

Lee, K. D., Millar, C. D., Brekke, P., Whibley, A., Ewen, J. G., Hingston, M., Zhu, A., & Santure, A. W. (2021). The design and application of a 50 K SNP chip for a threatened Aotearoa New Zealand passerine, the hihi. Molecular Ecology Resources, 00, 1– 15.

Assersohn, K., Brekke, P., & Hemmings, N. (2021). Physiological factors influencing female fertility in birds. Royal Society Open Science, 8(7), 202274.

Duntsch, L., Whibley, A., Brekke, P., Ewen, J. G., & Santure, A. W. (2021). Genomic data of different resolutions reveal consistent inbreeding estimates but contrasting homozygosity landscapes for the threatened Aotearoa New Zealand hihi. Molecular Ecology.

Assersohn, K., Marshall, A. F., Morland, F., Brekke, P., & Hemmings, N. (2021). Why do eggs fail? Causes of hatching failure in threatened populations and consequences for conservation. Animal Conservation.

de Villemereuil, P., Charmantier, A., Arlt, D., Bize, P., Brekke, P., Brouwer, L., ... & Chevin, L. M. (2020). Fluctuating optimum and temporally variable selection on breeding date in birds and mammals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(50), 31969-31978.

Rutschmann, A., de Villemereuil, P., Brekke, P., Ewen, J. G., Anderson, N., & Santure, A. W. (2020). Consequences of space sharing on individual phenotypes in the New Zealand hihi. Evolutionary Ecology, 34(5), 821-839.

Duntsch, L., Tomotani, B. M., de Villemereuil, P., Brekke, P., Lee, K. D., Ewen, J. G., & Santure, A. W. (2020). Polygenic basis for adaptive morphological variation in a threatened Aotearoa| New Zealand bird, the hihi (Notiomystis cincta). Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 287(1933), 20200948.

Kutscher, D., Asogan, D., Mudway, I., Brekke, P., Beales, C., Wang, X., ... & Stewart, T. J. (2020). Imaging of Trace Elements Using Laser Ablation–Inductively Coupled Plasma–Mass Spectrometry: Emerging New Applications. Spectroscopy, 35(S4), 16-26.

Green, R. E., Brekke, P. , Ward, H. , Slaymaker, M. , van der Velde, M. , Komdeur, J. and Dugdale, H. L. (2019), Use of microsatellite‐based paternity assignment to establish where Corn Crake Crex crex chicks are at risk from mechanized mowing. Ibis. doi:10.1111/ibi.12724

de Villemereuil, P., Rutschmann, A., Ewen, J. G., *Santure, A. W., & *Brekke, P. (2019). Little adaptive potential of a threatened species. Current Biology. 29(5) doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.01.072 *joint senior author

de Villemereuil, P., Rutschmann, A., Ewen, J. G., *Santure, A. W., & *Brekke, P. (2018). Can threatened species adapt in a restored habitat? No expected evolutionary response in lay date for the New Zealand hihi. Evolutionary Applications. 00:1–16. *joint senior author

Groombridge, J., Raisin, C., & Brekke, P. (2018). Island Populations – Genetic factors driving declines. Eds Species Conservation: Lessons from Islands, 51. Cambridge University Press.

Knight, A., Ewen, J. G., Brekke, P., & Santure, A. W. (2018). The Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Epidemiology of Coccidia of Passerine Birds. In Advances in parasitology (Vol. 99, pp. 35–60). Academic Press.

MacLeod, K. J., Brekke, P., Tong, W., Ewen, J. G., & Thorogood, R. (2017). Do mothers bias offspring sex ratios in carotenoid-rich environments? Behavioral Ecology, 28(1), 131–137.

Richardson, K. M., Ewen, J. G., Brekke, P., Doerr, L. R., Parker, K. A., & Armstrong, D. P. (2017). Behaviour during handling predicts male natal dispersal distances in an establishing reintroduced hihi (Notiomystis cincta) population. Animal Conservation, 20(2).

MacLeod, K. J., Brekke, P., Ewen, J. G., & Thorogood, R. (2016). Minutes matter: brief hatching asynchrony adversely affects late-hatched hihi nestlings, but not life beyond the nest. Animal Behaviour, 119, 111–118.

Brekke, P., Ewen, J. G., Clucas, G. Santure, A. (2015) Determinants of male floating behaviour and floater reproduction in a threatened population of the hihi (Notiomystis cincta). Evolutionary Applications.8, 796-806

Dawson, D. A., Brekke, P., Dos Remedios, N., Horsburgh, G. H. (2015) A marker suitable for sex-typing birds from degraded samples. Conservation Genetics Resources. 7, 337-343

Grueber, C. E., Knaffer, G. J., King, T. M., Senior, A. M., Grosser, S., Robertson, B., Weston, K. A., Brekke, P., et al. (2015) Toll-like receptor diversity in 1- threatened bird species: relationship with microsatellite heterozygosity. Conservation Genetics. 1-17

Walker, L. K., Ewen, J. G., Brekke, P., Kilner, R. M. (2013) Sexually selected dichromatism in the hihi Notiomystis cincta: multiple colours for multiple receivers. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 27, 1522-1535

Thorogood, R., Armstrong, D.P., Low, M., Brekke, P., Walker, L., Ewen, J.G. (2015) 1995 – present: A 15 year history of ecological research on Tiritiri Matangi Island’s Hihi. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 37, 298-306

Walker L.K., Armstrong, D.P, Brekke, P., Chauvenet, A.L.M., Kilner, R.M., Ewen, J.G. (2013) Giving hihi a helping hand: assessment of alternative rearing diets in food supplemented populations of an endangered bird. Animal Conservation. 5, 538-545.

Brekke, P., Cassey, P., Ariani, C., Ewen, J.G. (2013) Evolution of extreme-mating behaviour: patterns of extra-pair paternity in a species with forced extra-pair copulation. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology. 67, 963-972

Brekke, P., Wang, J., Bennett, P.M., Cassey, P., Dawson, D.A., Horsburgh G. J., Ewen, J.G. (2013) Postcopulatory mechanisms of inbreeding avoidance in the island endemic hihi (Notiomystis cincta). Behavioural Ecology. doi: 10.1093/beheco/arr183

Brekke, P., Bennett, P., Santure, A., & Ewen, J. G. (2011) High genetic diversity in the remnant island population of hihi and the genetic consequences of re-introduction. Molecular Ecology. 20, 29-45.

Brekke, P., Bennett, P. M., Wang, J., Pettorelli, N., Ewen, J. G. (2010) Male-biased inbreeding depression in an endangered bird. Proceedings of the Royal Society, B. London. 277, 3677-3684.

Wang, J., Brekke, P., Huchard, E., Knapp, L. A., Cowlishaw, G. (2010) Estimation of parameters of inbreeding and genetic drift in populations with overlapping generations. Evolution. 64, 1704-1718

Ewen, J.G., Thorogood, R., Brekke, P., Cassey, P., Karadasd, F. & Armstrong, D.P. (2009) Maternally invested carotenoids compensate costly ectoparasitism in the hihi. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 106, 12798-12802

Brekke, P., Dawson, D.A., Horsburgh, G.J. & Ewen, J.G. (2009) Characterization of microsatellite loci in the hihi, Notiomystis cincta (Notiomystidae, Aves). Molecular Ecology Resources 4, 1255-1258.

Birkhead, T.R., Pellatt, E.J., Brekke, P., Yates, R. & Castillo-Juarez, H. (2005) Genetic effects on sperm design in the zebra finch. Nature. 434, 383-387.