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Marleen Baling

School of Environmental and Animal Sciences
Location: 115-1040 or 113-3004

Professional memberships

Fellow of the Linnean Society of London
Society for Research on Amphibians and Reptiles New Zealand
Ornithological Society of New Zealand
New Zealand Ecological Society
New Zealand Federation of Graduate Women
IUCN Reintroduction Specialist Group
IUCN Skink Specialist Group


I conducted my MSc thesis on the habitat use, behaviour and population genetics of the chevron skink (Oligosoma homalonotum) at the University of Auckland, under the supervision of Graham Ussher, Dianne Brunton and Dianne Gleeson. Recently I completed a PhD investigating the function of colour variation of the shore skinks (Oligosoma smithi) at Massey University (Auckland), under supervision of James Dale, Dianne Brunton and Devi Stuart-Fox. In between acquiring these two degrees I worked as a project coordinator for the Pacific Invasives Initiative, a research technician at Massey University, consultant ecologist/ herpetologist for Auckland Council and various consultant companies, and a research associate at the University of Auckland investigating the genetic relationship between fairy terns (Sternula nereis spp) in New Zealand, Australia and New Caledonia. I have also volunteered my time (as an advisor and for fieldwork) for various research and community projects including avian and reptile translocations in New Zealand, Malaysia, Australia, Mexico, and Galapagos Islands. Currently, I am a researcher at Applied Molecular Solutions Research Centre (Tuapapa Rangahau).

Research Interests:

Reptile ecology, animal colouration and wildlife translocation. My current projects:

  • Effect of diet supplementation on vitamin D synthesis of lizards
  • Testing the feasibility of identifying reptile species using eDNA from tracking tunnel
  • Disease-screening of native lizards using molecular techniques

Collaboration projects:

  • IAQ Research Team (Assoc Prof Terri-Ann Berry, PI): Effect of home ventilation systems on indoor air quality.
  • Dr Luis Ortiz Catedral & Harry Sollis (Massey University): Colouration in Galapagos snakes.
  • Dr An Pas (Auckland Zoo): Prevalence and clinical relevance of Cryptosporidium infections in native reptiles in New Zealand.

Potential short project for NSCI7732 Negotiated Research students:

  • Tatahi skink (Oligosoma sp) survey in the Auckland Region (collaboration with Auckland Council)


NSCI7732 Negotiated Research students that I supervise:

  • Furat Jawad: Testing the feasibility of identifying reptile species using eDNA from tracking tunnels: a pilot study
  • Holly Goodman: Behavioural response of native frogs to predator scent (collaboration with Auckland Zoo)
  • Holly Barker: Can calcium supplement prevent early symptoms of MDB in vitamin D deficient captive reptiles?
  • Marcel Kerrigan: Investigating arboreal behaviour in Chesterfield skinks (collaboration with Auckland Zoo)
  • Warren Anne Fajardo: Diversity of endoparasites in exotic herpetofauna (collaboration with Bioresearches)


  • Pauline Raphanaud (MSc Wildlife Management and Conservation, Czech University of Life Sciences): Investigating the use of AI-based image identification to monitor wild cryptic lizards
    (Supervisor: Francisco Ceacero Herrador)
  • Richelle Butcher (MSc Veterinary Science, Massey University): Pathogen prevalence and diversity in native and invasive New Zealand lizards (Supervisor: Brett Gartrell)



Hernandez, G., Low, J., Wallis, S., Birchmore, R., Ramirez-Prado, G., de Groot, C., Gremillion, H., Lee-Morgan, J., Blanchon, D., Baling, M., Doyle, E., & Berry, T. (2020). The development of a transdisciplinary team to investigate indoor air quality issues in New Zealand. Unitec Research Symposium, Mount Albert Campus, Unitec.

Baling, M., & Wairepo, J. (2020). Rapid assessment of eradication success of an invasive lizard. World Congress of Herpetology 9, Dunedin.

van Winkel, D., Baling, M., & Hitchmough, R. (2018). Reptiles and Amphibians of New Zealand: A Field Guide. Auckland, New Zealand, Auckland Uni Press (Vol. 1).

Baling, M. (2017). Functional significance of highly variable colouration in the shore skink (Oligosoma smithi). Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand.

Baling, M., Stuart-Fox, D., & Dale, J. (2017). Camouflage in heterogeneous environments: an experimental test of the effect of prey colour and pattern complexity. 17th biennial conference of the Society for Research on Amphibians and Reptiles in New Zealand, Whangarei Heads.

Baling, M., Stuart-Fox, D., Brunton, D.H., & Dale, J. (2016). Habitat suitability for conservation translocation: the importance of considering camouflage in cryptic species. Biological Conservation (Vol. 203).

Baling, M. (2015). Woodworthia maculata (common gecko). Leucism. Herpetological Review (Vol. 41).

Parker, K.A., Adams, L., Baling, M., Kemp, L., Kuchling, G., Lloyd, B., Ruffell, J., Stringer, I., Watts, C., & Dickens, M.J. (2015). Practical guidelines for planning and implementing fauna translocations. Armstrong, D.G., Hayward, M.W., Moro, D. & Seddon, P.J. Melbourne, Australia (Vol. 1).

Baling, M., van Winkel, D., Rixon, M., Ruffell, J., Ji, W., & Ussher, G. (2013). A review of reptile research and conservation management on Tiritiri Matangi Island. New Zealand Journal of Ecology (Vol. 37).

Baling, M., & Nagle, B. (2013). Island biosecurity training Fiji, June 2010. Conservation International Pacific Islands Program, Apia, Samoa.

Baling, M., & Nagle, B. (2013). Island biosecurity training Samoa, March 2010. Conservation International Pacific Islands Program, Apia, Samoa.

Baling, M., Gartrell, B., Ji, W., & Brunton, D.H. (2013). Detection of Salmonella during translocation of two endemic New Zealand lizard species within the Hauraki Gulf. New Zealand Journal of Zoology (Vol. 40).

Barre, N., Baling, M., Boutellier, A., Bachy, P., Chartendrault, V., & Spaggiari, J. (2012). Survey of fairy tern (Sterna nereis exsul) in New Caledonia. Marine Ornithology (Vol. 40).

van Winkel, D., Baling, M., Barry, M., Ji, W., & Brunton, D. (2010). Translocation of Duvaucel's geckos to Tiritiri Matangi and Motuora Islands, Hauraki Gulf, as part of island ecological restoration initiatives. Soorae, P.S. Abu Dhabi.

Baling, M., Wedding, C., Barry, M., Ji, W., & Brunton, D.H. (2010). Re-introduction of shore skinks to offshore islands in the Auckland region, New Zealand. Soorae, P.S. Abu Dhabi.

Baling, M., Jeffries, D., & Brunton, D.H. (2009). A survey of fairy tern (Sterna nereis) breeding colonies in the Southern Lagoon, New Caledonia. Emu (Vol. 109).

Baling, M. (2008). Species at risk: Conservation of the fairy tern (Sternula nereis spp.) via subspecies level management. Endangered Species Update (Vol. 25).

Baling, M., Brunton, D.H., & Jeffries, D. (2008). Marine and coastal bird survey of islands in the Southern Lagoon, New Caledonia. Notornis (Vol. 55).

Baling, M. (2003). The habitat use, behaviour and population genetic structure of the chevron skink (Oligosoma homalonotum) from Great Barrier Island. The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.