Dr Philip Ross

Senior Research Fellow

Qualifications: BSc, MSc Auckland, PhD Waikato

Personal Website:

About Philip

I am a marine ecologist at the University of Waikato. Since 2012 I have worked as a Research Fellow/Post-doc at the University of Waikato's Coastal Marine Field Station in Tauranga.

For more details about my research and opportunities for students please check out my website

Research Interests

My area of specialty is marine community ecology and molecular ecology with a focus on temperate soft sediment and rocky reef ecosystems. I’m interested in understanding how communities of sea creatures respond to and recover from disturbances, particularly man-made disturbances. For the last few years my research has been focused on trying to determine the ecological effects of the MV Rena grounding on Astrolabe Reef. Recently, I have begun working on toheroa, a large endemic surf clam occurring on only a handful of west coast surf beaches. For this work I will be combining archaeology and population genetics with Matauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) to gain a better understanding of early human influences on the distribution of toheroa and the extent to which early Māori manipulated their marine environment.

Research Supervised


  • Bennion, Matthew (in progress). The ecological and physiological impacts of Rikettsialike infections on toheroa (Paphies ventricosa) and tuatua (P. subtriangulata). (Chief supervisor: Ian McDonald).
  • Taikato, Vanessa (in progress). The science behind ahumoana tawhito (ancient aquaculture): translocation of toheroa by early-Maori. (Chief supervisor: Chris Battershill).
  • Forde, Jacinta (in progress). Nga Taonga Toheroa: The cultural significance of toheroa in the Maori world. (Chief supervisor: Fiona McCormack).
  • Cadwallader,  Helen (2020) Diet composition and heavy metal accumulation in NZ Batoid Elasmobranchs. (Chief supervisor: Chris Battershill).
  • McCormack, Sam (in progress) Sponge taxonomy and conservation. (Chief supervisor: Chris Battershill).


  • Kellet, Melissa  (in progress) Coastal habitat partitioning by sharks and rays (elasmobranchs). (Chief supervisor: Chris Battershill).
  • Cope, Jane (2018) The effects of changing land use on habitat suitability and the recovery of toheroa.


  • King, Staci (2017) Connectivity between aquaculture farms and Sabella spallazanii: rafting potential and treatment options. (Chief supervisor: Chris Battershill).
  • Brooke, Nathania (2015) Larval fish ecology of Tauranga Harbour. (Chief supervisor: Chris Battershill).
  • Sturgess, Nicole (2015) Mapping the ecological and biophysical character of seabed habitats of the Paraninihi Marine Reserve, Taranaki, New Zealand.
  • Dempsey,  Te Puea (2015) Toitu Te Moananui a Toi – The Effects of the MV Rena on the Water Quality, Chemistry and Zooplankton of Otaiti (Astrolabe Reef). (Chief supervisor: Chris Battershill).
  • McSweeney, Caleb (2015) Rena copper sediment effects to Paua (Haliotis iris). (Chief supervisor: Chris Battershill).
  • McCormack, Sam (2015) The Taxonomy of Demospongiae (Porifera) from the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand - connecting Linnaean and Phylogenetic Classification. (Chief supervisor: Chris Battershill).
  • Taikato, Vanessa (2014) Estuarine condition and macro-benthic communities in Te Tāhuna o Rangataua, Te Awanui, Tauranga Harbour. (Chief supervisor: Chris Battershill).


  • Platt,  Amy(2015) Effects of copper on macroalgae recruitment.

Teaching Commitments

Recent Publications

  • Hartland, A., Zitoun, R., Middag, R., Sander, S., Laferriere, A., Saeed, H., . . . Ross, P. M. (2019). Aqueous copper bioavailability linked to shipwreck-contaminated reef sediments. Scientific Reports, 9(1). doi:10.1038/s41598-019-45911-8

  • Ross, P. M., Knox, M. A., Smith, S., Smith, H., Williams, J., & Hogg, I. D. (2018). Historical translocations by Maori may explain the distribution and genetic structure of a threatened surf clam in Aotearoa (New Zealand). Scientific Reports, 8, 8 pages. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-35564-4

  • Ross, P. M., Beentjes, M. P., Cope, J., de Lange, W. P., McFadgen, B. G., Redfearn, P., . . . Williams, J. R. (2017). The biology, ecology and history of toheroa ( Paphies ventricosa ): a review of scientific, local and customary knowledge. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 1-36. doi:10.1080/00288330.2017.1383279

  • Ross, P. M., Pande, A., Jones, J. B., Cope, J., & Flowers, G. (2017). First detection of gas bubble disease and Rickettsia-like organisms in Paphies ventricosa , a New Zealand surf clam. Journal of Fish Diseases, 4 pages. doi:10.1111/jfd.12684

View All research publications by Philip Ross

Contact Details

Room: Coastal Marine Field Station, 58 Cross Road, Sulphur Point, Tauranga
Phone: 07 578 4465 x 7507
Cellphone: 021 105 2759