Sam Hill (Past student) (PhD)
Position: PhD

Phone: + 64 9 4140800 ext 41520

PhD Ecology 2018 Massey University Albany
MSc (Hons) Conservation Biology 2011 Massey University Albany
Graduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching 2006 Massey University Palmerston North
BSc (Hons) Molecular Cell Biology 2005 University of Southampton, UK

Hill, S. D., Pawley, M. D. M., Bishop, C. D (2020). Annual variation in bird numbers across Kaipatiki, Auckland. New Zealand Journal of Zoology. doi:
Hill, S. D., Pawley, M. D. M (2019). Reduced song complexity in founder populations of a widely distributed songbird. Ibis: International Journal of Avian Science 161(2): 435-440.
Landers, T. J., Hill, S. D., Ludbrook, M. R., Wells, S. J., Bishop, C. D (2019). Avian biodiversity across Auckland’s volcanic cone reserves. New Zealand Journal of Zoology. 46(2): 97-106.
Hill, S. D (2018). A rare vocalisation from a female tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae). Notornis 65: 237-238.
Hill, S. D., Brunton, D. H., Anderson, M. G., Ji, W (2018). Fighting talk: complex song elicits more aggressive responses in a vocally complex songbird. Ibis: International Journal of Avian Science 160: 257-268.
Hill, S. D., Aryal, A., Pawley, M. D. M., Ji, W (2018). So much for the city: urban-rural song variation in a widespread Asiatic songbird. Integrative Zoology 13(2): 194-205.
Hill, S. D., Pawley, M. D. M., Anderson, M. G., Ji, W (2018). Higher song complexity and intruder pressure at dawn in a vocally complex songbird. Emu: Austral Ornithology 118(1): 147-158 (Cover article).
Hill, S. D (2017). Influences of environmental and biological factors on song complexity in songbirds. PhD thesis (Pass), Massey University Albany.
Hill, S. D., Amiot, C., Anderson, M. G., Ji, W (2017). It is complicated: the association between songbird extrapair paternity and within-song complexity. Animal Behaviour 130: 187-197.
Hill, S. D., Pawley, M. D. M., Ji, W (2017). Local habitat complexity correlates with song complexity in a vocally elaborate honeyeater. Austral Ecology 42(5): 590-596.
Gosai, K. R., Shrestha, T. K., Hill, S. D., Shrestha, S. M., Gyawali, B., Gautam, D. N., Aryal, A (2016). Population structure, behaviour and current threat on sarus crane (Grus antigone antigone) in Nepal. Journal of Asia-Pacific Biodiversity 9(3): 301-305.
Hill, S. D., Silva, M. C (2016). Captive caracals (Caracal caracal) depredate a wild tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae) within zoo enclosure. Notornis 63(1): 40-41.
Hill, S. D., Bishop, C. A., Landers, T. J (2015). Avian biodiversity in the coastal wetlands of the Okahukura Peninsula. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 42(1): 44-50.
Hill, S. D., Amiot, C., Ludbrook, M. R., Ji, W (2015). Seasonal variation in the song structure of tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae). New Zealand Journal of Ecology 39(1): 110-115. (Cover article).
Amiot, C., Ji, W., Hill, S. D (2015). Using plumage and behavioural development to age New Zealand fantail nestlings. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 42(1): 35-43.
Hill, S. D., Ji, W (2014). Categorisation of common syllable types in the complex vocalisations of tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae). Notornis 61(1): 54-56.
Hill, S. D., Ji, W (2013). Observation of tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae) attacking a neighbouring male blackbird (Turdus merula) following playback of tui song. Notornis 60(4): 311-312.
Hill, S. D., Ji, W (2013). Microgeographic variation in song phrases of tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae). Notornis 60(3): 222-224.
Hill, S. D., Ji, W., Parker K. A., Amiot, C., Wells, S. J (2013). A comparison of vocalisations between mainland tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae novaeseelandiae) and Chatham Island tui (P. n. chathamensis). New Zealand Journal of Ecology 37(2) 214-223.
Hill, S. D (2011). The vocalisation of tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae). MSc thesis, Massey University Albany.
ASSAB Conference July 1-4 2013, University of Auckland, New Zealand. Oral presentation: ‘Mainland and Chatham Island tui vocalisations: A comparative study’.
TOSSI Society Seminar. March 2013, Tawharanui Regional Park. Oral presentation: ‘Geographical variation in tui vocalisation’.
Attended: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology Macaulay Library Sound Recording Workshop June 8-15 2013, Sierra Nevada Field Campus, San Francisco State University, California, USA (funded jointly by the Human-Wildlife Interaction Group [Ji, W], Massey University Wildlife Ecology Group, and myself).

Massey University Wildlife Ecology Group: Tuition Fees Grant, Doctoral Completion Grant
Ministry of Social Development: Student allowance and accommodation supplement

My PhD project examines the variation in avian song complexity between individuals and how levels of song complexity may vary in different populations of the same species (including variation in song complexity along small spatial scales, and between urban, and rural habitats). I am also researching diurnal variation in levels of song complexity and versatility. I am using the vocalisations of the New Zealand endemic tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae) as a model. Tui exhibit very high degrees of song complexity that rival those of other complex songsters such as the common nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos), brown thrasher (Toxostoma rufum), winter wren (Troglodytes hiemalis), and skylark (Alauda arvensis). I employ an array of analytical techniques mainly using Raven Pro software, in order to extract quantitative data from songs and compare vocal behavioural parameters between individuals or populations. I generally utilise state-of-the-art multivariate analyses such as PERMANOVA, ANOSIM, SIMPER, nMDS and CAP for statistical procedures in my research. My research was fully supported by Ngati Manuhiri.

Supervisors / Supervisions:
Weihong Ji, Dianne Brunton

About Me

In addition to my PhD research, I have been a reviewer for Journal of Avian Biology, am an associate editor for the peer-reviewed journal 'Conservation Science' and an editor for the peer-reviewed journal 'Notornis'.


As well as being very passionate about nature and ecology, I have a love of music and a particular affiliation with the Spanish guitar. I am currently learning the piece de resistance of Spanish guitar playing: 'Recuerdos de la Alhambra' by Francesco Tarrega.


I'm a very keen traveller and have been lucky enough to have embarked upon trips all over the globe. I recently embarked upon an intrepid trip to Nepal to record avian vocalisations. This trip in conjunction with the Nepalese Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation has broadened the range of avian species on which I can conduct vocal complexity analyses. Geographical and phylogenetic variation of song in species that inhabit Nepal will be a focus of future research for me. I also am on the board of the NGO 'Nature First Nepal' and act as an advisor to ecology and forestry students in Nepal.


Other personal highlights have been volunteer teaching at a remote village school in the Indian Himalayas and being a volunteer teacher/computer lab supervisor/exam invigilator in Rwanda for an NGO that offers scholarships and extra training to elite undergraduates who are victims either directly or indirectly of the 1994 genocide.

I’ve also recently been involved in a community project called ‘Tūī, Tui, Tuia’ that was conducted in collaboration with producer Paul Mackenzie, musician Dudley Benson, choreographer Cat Ruka and Green Party Co-Leader Metiria Turei. I was appointed scientific collaborator of the project which was conducted on a voluntary basis.


I am also a keen soccer player for Red Sox Manawatu, and am Captain of the 'Legends' team. In addition, I am a Level 2 accredited soccer referee.