Professor George Perry

BSc(Hons)/MSc (Canterbury), PhD (Melbourne), PGCAP (London)

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I completed undergraduate and Masters studies in the Departments of Geography and Plant and Microbial Sciences at the University of Canterbury, before doing a PhD at the University of Melbourne. I worked in the Department of Geography at King's College London for four years before moving to the School of Environment.

Research | Current

I am interested in the dynamics of forest ecosystems at spatial scales from the population to the landscape and at temporal scales from decades to milennia. All of my research involves a strong field-based component supported by simulation and/or statistical modelling.

My current research is primarily focused on understanding the effects of humans on forest ecosystems.  I am particularly interested in how anthropic changes to disturbance regimes, especially fire, have restructured ecosystems and the legacies and challenges this has left for modern ecosystems. I am also interested in how forest loss modifies and disrupts plant-animal mutualisms.  I have developed high-resolution chronologies for prehistoric extinction events, including NZ's iconic moa, and, I have worked with graduate students on a variety of topics concerned with understanding how altered landscape structure influences habitat connectivity, seed dispersal and animal movement. I am a collaborator on two projects focused on developing socio-ecological simulation models to support decision-making for ecosystem services and conservation in multi-functional landscapes.  In the past I have conducted research in ecosystems in SW Australia, Spain, and New Caledonia.



I have designed an Excel add-in for spatial point pattern analysis (including nearest-neighbour methods, refined nearest neighbour, Ripley's K, the neighbourhood density function, etc.) called SpPack. This software is currently being used by a number of researchers around the world and is described in a paper in Environmental Modelling & Software. This software is freely available on email request.


Teaching | Current

My teaching is focused in the broad areas of terrestrial ecology, environmental change and associated quantitative methods.  My main contributions are in ENVSCI 101 (Environment, Science & Management), GEOG 261 (Climate, Hydrology & Biogeography), GEOG 334 (Environmental Change), ENVSCI 705 (Environmental data analysis) and ENVSCI 737 (Applied Terrestrial Ecology).  I also contribute to two courses in the School of Biological Sciences: BIOSCI 396 (Terrestrial Ecology) and BIOSCI 734 (Terrestrial Plant Ecology).

Postgraduate supervision

Current doctoral students

  • Sandra Anderson 'The consequences of unravelling plant-bird mutualisms in NZ ecosystems' Co-supervised with Assoc Prof Janet Wilmshurst (Landcare Research & School of Environment).

  • Alex Boast  'Paleoecology and ancient DNA of the kakapo Strigops habroptilus' Co-supervised with Assoc Prof Janet Wilmshurst (Landcare Research & School of Environment).

  • Bree Powers 'Ecosystem services and land-use and cover change modelling in multi-functional landscapes'.

  • Ben Reed 'Coupled species distributuion and demographic models of moa extinction' Co-supervised with Assoc Prof Janet Wilmshurst (Landcare Research & School of Environment).

  • Finn Lee 'How are metacommunity structure and connectivity influenced by network structure in dendritic systems?' Co-supervised with Assoc Prof Kevin Simon (School of Environment).

  • Tristan Webb 'Agent-based models of interactions between humans, vegetation and fire in New Zealand's initial burning period' Co-supervised with Assoc Prof Janet Wilmshurst (Landcare Research & School of Environment).

  • Quinn Asena 'Evaluating the robustness of early warning signals of tipping points in palaeoecological data' Co-supervised with Assoc Prof Janet Wilmshurst (Landcare Research & School of Environment).

Recently completed doctoral students

  • James Brock (SBS, University of Auckland, 2018) 'Ecosystem engineers? The role of tree-ferns (Cyathea) in New Zealand's forest ecosystems'. Co-supervised with Dr Bruce Burns (SBS).
  • Erin Kennedy (SBS, University of Auckland, 2017) ‘A spatially-explicit approach to assessing and resolving human-wildlife conflict’ Co-supervised with Dr Todd Dennis (SBS)

  • Alice Baranyovits (SBS, University of Auckland, 2017) ‘Seasonal movements of kereru (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae) through fragmented landscapes and the implications for seed dispersal’ Co-supervised with Prof Jacqueline Beggs and Prof Mick Clout (both SBS)

  • Craig Simpkins (SBS, University of Auckland, 2017) ‘Interactions between environmental variability and interspecific interactions in determining dispersal success’. Co-supervised with Dr Todd Dennis (SBS). 

  • Jingjing Zhang (SBS, University of Auckland, 2016) ‘Modelling animal movement in heterogeneous environments: from statistical inferential models to individual-based models’. Co-supervised with Dr Todd Dennis (SBS)

  • Narkis Morales (SENV, University of Auckland, 2014) 'The role of post-dispersal regeneration processes in Beilschmiedia tawa forest fragments, Waikato, Northern New Zealand'


Te Tohu Taio Award for Ecological Excellence from the NZ Ecological Society, 2018

Charles Bullard Fellow, Harvard Forest, 2012

Areas of expertise

Forest ecology, fire ecology, palaeoecology, extinction, ecological modelling

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Perry, G. L. W., & Lee, F. (2019). How does temporal variation in habitat connectivity influence metapopulation dynamics?. OIKOS, 128 (9), 1277-1286. 10.1111/oik.06052
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Finnbar Lee
  • Cui, X., Alam, M. A., Perry, G. L., Paterson, A. M., Wyse, S. V., & Curran, T. J. (2019). Green firebreaks as a management tool for wildfires: Lessons from China. Journal of environmental management, 233, 329-336. 10.1016/j.jenvman.2018.12.043
  • Atkins, J. L., Perry, G. L. W., & Dennis, T. E. (2019). Effects of mis-alignment between dispersal traits and landscape structure on dispersal success in fragmented landscapes. Royal Society open science, 6 (1)10.1098/rsos.181702
  • Brock, J. M. R., Burns, B. R., Perry, G. L. W., & Lee, W. G. (2019). Gametophyte niche differences among sympatric tree ferns. Biology Letters, 15 (1).10.1098/rsbl.2018.0659
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Bruce Burns, James Brock
  • Bellve, A., Burns, B., Perry, G., & Brock, J. (2018). The role of perching lilies (epiphytic Astelia spp.) as habitat-formers in northern New Zealand forests. Paper presented at New Zealand Ecological Society conference, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand. 25 November - 29 November 2018. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Bruce Burns, Andre Bellve, James Brock
  • Sommerfeld, A., Senf, C., Buma, B., D'Amato AW, Després T, Díaz-Hormazábal I, ... Hart, S. J. (2018). Patterns and drivers of recent disturbances across the temperate forest biome. Nature communications, 9 (1)10.1038/s41467-018-06788-9
  • Brock, J. M. R., Perry, G. L. W., Burkhardt, T., & Burns, B. R. (2018). Forest seedling community response to understorey filtering by tree ferns. Journal of Vegetation Science, 29 (5), 887-897. 10.1111/jvs.12671
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Bruce Burns, James Brock
  • Burns, B. R., Brock, J., Ryder, J., & Perry, G. L. M. (2018). Effects of Phytophthora agathidicida infection on the composition and structure of Agathis australis forest. Nathan Homestead, Manurewa, Auckland. 21 July - 21 July 2018. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Bruce Burns, James Brock


Contact details

Primary office location

SCIENCE CENTRE 302 - Bldg 302
Level 4, Room 457
New Zealand

Web links