Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Thomas Buckley

Thomas Buckley
Position: Research Priority Ldr/Invertebrate Syst.
Team: Systematics
Location: Auckland
Private Bag 92170
Auckland Mail Centre
Auckland 1142
Phone: +64 9 574 4116
Fax: +64 3 321 9998

Contact Thomas

Research Interests

Research Interests

My research focuses on the systematics, biogeography, and conservation genetics of New Zealand terrestrial invertebrates. I have on-going projects on stick insects, cicadas, beetles, moths, earthworms and weta. I am particularly interested in questions on the biogeographic origins of New Zealand invertebrates and evolutionary processes within New Zealand. These questions are addressed using phylogenetic and genomic approaches. An important aspect of my research is the understanding of methods of analysing molecular data sets. These include phylogenetics, model selection, tests of topology, coalescent models and the assembly and analysis of whole genomes, transcriptomes and gene expression data. Whole genomes and gene expression data are being used to understand the genetic basis of adaptation in stick insects and weta. My interests in systematics also include taxonomy where I am revising the New Zealand stick insect fauna using morphology and genetics. I am also involved in a range of conservation genetics projects on highly threatened invertebrates including tusked and giant weta.

NZ stick insects:
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University of Auckland:


Myers, S.S., G.I. Holwell, and T.R. Buckley. 2017. Genetic and morphometric data demonstrate alternative consequences of secondary contact in Clitarchus stick insects. Journal of Biogeography, in press.

White, D.J, C. Watts, J. Allwood, D. Prada, I. Stringer, D. Thornburrow, and T.R. Buckley. 2017 Population history and genetic bottlenecks in translocated Cook Strait giant weta, Deinacrida rugosa: recommendations for future conservation management. Conservation Genetics, 18: 411-422.

Buckley, T.R. 2016. Applications of phylogenetics to solve practical problems in insect conservation. Current Opinion in Insect Science, 18: 35-39.

Galla, S.J., T.R. Buckley, R. Elshire, M.L. Hale, M. Knapp, J. McCallum, R Moraga, A.W. Santure, P. Wilcox, and T.E. Steeves. 2016. Building strong relationships between conservation genetics and primary industry leads to mutually beneficial genomic advances. Molecular Ecology, 25: 5267–5281.  

Myers, S.S., T.R. Buckley and G.I. Holwell. 2016. Male genital claspers influence female mate acceptance in the stick insect Clitarchus hookeri. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 70: 1547-1556.

Wu, C., R.N. Crowhurst, V.G. Twort, A.B. Dennis, S. Liu, R.D. Newcomb, H.A. Ross, and T.R. Buckley. 2016. De novo transcriptome analysis of the common New Zealand stick insect Clitarchus hookeri (Phasmatodea) reveals genes involved in olfaction, digestion and sexual reproduction. PLoS ONE, 11(6): e0157783.

Bennik, R.M., T.R. Buckley, R.J.B. Hoare, and G.I. Holwell. 2016. Molecular phylogeny reveals the repeated evolution of complex male genital traits in the New Zealand moth genus Izatha (Lepidoptera: Xyloryctidae). Systematic Entomology, 41: 309-322.

Bradler, S., N. Cliquennois, and T.R. Buckley. 2015. Single origin of the Mascarene stick insects: ancient radiation on sunken islands? BMC Evolutionary Biology, 15:196.

Dennis, A.B., L.T. Dunning, B.J. Sinclair, and T.R. Buckley. 2015. Parallel molecular routes to cold adaptation in eight genera of New Zealand stick insects. Scientific Reports, 5: 13965.

Drummond, A.J., R.D. Newcomb, T.R. Buckley, D. Xie, A. Dopheide, B.C.M. Potter, J. Heled, H.A. Ross, L. Tooman, S. Grosser, D. Park, N.J. Demetras, M.I. Stevens, J.C. Russell, S.H. Anderson, A. Carter, and N. Nelson. 2015. Evaluating a multigene environmental DNA approach for biodiversity assessment. GigaScience, 4: 46.

Buckley, T.R., M. Krosch, and R.A.B. Leschen. 2015. The evolution of New Zealand insects: a summary and prospectus for future research. Austral Entomology, 54: 1-27.

Leschen, R.A.B and T.R. Buckley. 2015. Revision and phylogeny of Syrphetodes (Coleoptera: Ulodidae): implications for biogeography, alpinisation, and conservation. Systematic Entomology, 40: 143-168.

Myers, S.S., T.R. Buckley, and G.I. Holwell. 2015. Mate detection and seasonal variation in stick insect mating behaviour (Phasmatodea: Clitarchus hookeri). Behaviour, 152: 1325-1348.

Buckley, T.R., Myers, S. and S. Bradler. 2014. Revision of the stick insect genus Clitarchus Stål (Phasmatodea: Phasmatidae): new synonymies and two new species from northern New Zealand. Zootaxa, 3900: 451-482.

Misof B, Liu S, Meusemann K, Peters RS, Donath A, Mayer C, Frandsen PB, Ware J, Flouri T, Beutel RG, Niehuis O, Petersen M, Izquierdo-Carrasco F, Wappler T, Rust J, Aberer AJ, Aspöck U, Aspöck H, Bartel D, Blanke A, Berger S, Böhm A, Buckley TR, Calcott B, Chen J, Friedrich F, Fukuui M, Fujita M, Greve C, Grobe P, Gu S, Huang Y, Jermiin LS, Kawahara AY, Krogmann L, Kubiak M, Lanfear R, Letsch H, Li Y, Li Z, Li J, Lu H, Machida R, Mashimo Y, Kapli P, McKenna DD, Meng G, Nakagaki Y, Navarrete-Heredia JL, Ott M, Ou Y, Pass G, Podsiadlowski L, Pohl H, von Reumont BM, Schütte K, Sekiya K, Shimizu S, Slipinski A, Stamatakis A, Song W, Su X, Szucsich NU, Tan M, Tan X, Tang M, Tang J, Timelthaler G, Tomizuka S, Trautwein M, Tong X, Uchifune T, Walzl MG, Wiegmann BM, Wilbrandt J, Wipfler B, Wong TKF, Wu Q, Wu G, Xie Y, Yang S, Yang Q, Yeates DK, Yoshizawa Y, Zhang Q, Zhang R, Zhang W, Zhang Y, Zhao J, Zhou C., Zhou L, Ziesmann T, Zou S, Li Y, Xu X, Zhang Y, Yang H, Wang J, Wang J, Kjer KM, Zhou X 2014. Phylogenomics resolves the timing and pattern of insect evolution. Science 346(6210): 763–767.

Painting, C.J., T.R. Buckley, and G.I. Holwell. 2014. Weapon allometry varies with latitude in the New Zealand giraffe weevil. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 27: 2864-2870.

Painting, C.J., T.R. Buckley, and G.I. Holwell. 2014. Male-biased sexual size dimorphism and sex ratio in the New Zealand Giraffe Weevil, Lasiorhynchus barbicornis (Fabricius) (Coleoptera: Brentidae). Austral Entomology , 53: 317-327.

Buckley, T.R., D.J. White, R. Howitt, T. Winstanley, A. Ramon-Laca, and D. Gleeson. 2014. Nuclear and mitochondrial DNA variation within threatened species and subspecies of the giant New Zealand land snail genusPowelliphanta: implications for classification and conservation. Journal of Molluscan Studies, 80: 291-302.

Dunning, L.T., A.B. Dennis, B.J. Sinclair, R.D. Newcomb, and T.R. Buckley. 2014. Divergent transcriptional responses to low temperature among populations of alpine and lowland species of New Zealand stick insects (Micrarchus). Molecular Ecology, 23, 2712-2726.

Dennis, A., L. Dunning, C. Dennis, B. Sinclair and T.R. Buckley. 2014. Overwintering in New Zealand stick insects. New Zealand Entomologist, 37: 35-44.

Murienne, J., S.R. Daniels, T.R. Buckley, G. Mayer, and G. Giribet. 2014. A living fossil tale of Pangean biogeography. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 281: 20132648.

Dhami, M.K, T.R. Buckley, J.R. Beggs, and M.W. Taylor. 2013. Primary symbiont of the ancient scale insect family Coelostomidiidae exhibits strict cophylogenetic patterns. Symbiosis, 61: 77-91.

Novis, P., R. Smissen, T. R. Buckley, K. Gopalakrishnan, and G. Visnovsky. 2013. Inclusion of chloroplast genes that have undergone expansion misleads phylogenetic reconstruction in the Chlorophyta. American Journal of Botany, 100: 2194-2209.

Dunning, L.T., G. Thomson, A.B. Dennis, B.J. Sinclair, R.D. Newcomb, and T.R. Buckley. 2013. Positive selection in glycolysis among Australasian stick insects. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 13: 215.

Dunning, L.T., A.B. Dennis, D.C. Park, B.J. Sinclair, R.D. Newcomb, and T.R. Buckley. 2013. Identification of cold-responsive genes in a New Zealand alpine stick insect using RNA-Seq. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - Part D: Genomics and Proteomics, 8: 24-31.

Buckley, T.R. and R.A.B. Leschen. 2013. Comparative phylogenetic analysis reveals long term isolation of lineages on the Three Kings Islands, New Zealand. Biological Journal of Linnean Society, 108: 361-377.

Marshall, D.C., K. Hill, K.A. Marske, C. Chambers, T.R. Buckley and C. Simon. 2012. Limited episodic diversification and contrasting phylogeography in a New Zealand cicada radiation. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 12:177.

Buckley, TR., P.M. Johns, R. Palma, D. Gleeson, R.A. Hitchmough and I.A.N. Stringer. 2012. Threat classification of small or less well known groups of New Zealand terrestrial invertebrates (2009): Acari, Annelida, Chilopoda, Diplura, Insecta - Dermaptera, Odonata, Phasmatodea, Phthiraptera; Nemertini, Onychophora, Opiliones and Platyhelminthes. New Zealand Entomologist, 35: 137-143.

Marske, K.A., R.A.B. Leschen, T.R. Buckley. 2012. Concerted versus independent evolution and the search for multiple refugia: comparative phylogeography of four forest beetles. Evolution, 66: 1862-1877.

Zhao, Z., D. Li, and T.R. Buckley. 2012. Analysis of primary structure of Hairpin 35 and 48 loops of SSU rRNA gene of Nematoda: further evidence that the genera Tripylina Brzeski, 1963, Trischistoma Cobb, 1913 andRhabdolaimus de Man, 1880 are members of Enoplida. Zootaxa, 3208: 41-57.

Buckley, T.R., I. Stringer, D. Gleeson, R. Howitt, D. Attanayake, R. Parish, G. Sherley, and M. Rohan. 2011. A revision of the New Zealand Placostylus land snails using mitochondrial DNA and shell morphometric analyses, with implications for conservation. New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 38: 55-81.

Marske, K.A., R.A.B. Leschen, T.R. Buckley. 2011. Reconciling phylogeography and ecological niche models for New Zealand beetles: Looking beyond glacial refugia. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 59: 89-102.

Bradler, S., and T.R. Buckley. 2011. Stick insect on unsafe ground: Does a fossil from the Early Eocene of France really link Mesozoic taxa to the extant crown group of Phasmatodea? Systematic Entomology, 36: 218-222.

Leschen, R.A.B., E. Butler, T.R. Buckley, and P. Ritchie. 2011. Biogeography of the New Zealand subantarctics: phylogenetics ofPseudhelops (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae). New Zealand Entomologist, 34: 12-26.

Buckley, T.R., S. James, J. Allwood, S. Bartlam. R. Howitt, and D. Prada. 2011. Phylogenetic analysis of New Zealand earthworms (Oligochaeta: Megascolecidae) reveals ancient clades and cryptic taxonomic diversity. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 58: 85-96.

MacFarlane, R.P., P.A. Maddison, I.G. Andrew, J.A. Berry, P.M. Johns, R.J.B. Hoare, M.-C. Lariviere, P. Greenslade, R.C. Henderson, C.N. Smithers, R.L. Palma, J.B. Ward, R.L.C. Pilgrim, D.R. Towns, I. McLellan, D.A.J. Teulon, T.R. Hitchings, V.F. Eastop, N.A. Martin, M.J. Fletcher, M.A.W. Stufkens, P.J. Dale, D. Burckhardt, T.R. Buckley, and S.A. Trewick. 2010. Phylum Arthropoda: Subphylum Hexapoda: Protura, Springtails, Diplura, and Insects. Pp. 233-467 in Gordon, D.P. (ed.): New Zealand Inventory of Biodiversity. Volume 2. Kingdom Animalia. Chaetognatha, Ecdysozoa, ichnofossils. Canterbury University Press, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Buckley, T.R., K. Marske, and D. Attanayake. 2010. Phylogeography and ecological niche modelling of the New Zealand stick insectClitarchus hookeri (White) support survival in multiple coastal refugia. Journal of Biogeography, 37: 682-695.

Allwood, J., D.M. Gleeson, G. Mayer, S. Daniels, J. Beggs, and T.R. Buckley. 2010. Support for vicariant origins of the New Zealand Onychophora. Journal of Biogeography, 37: 669-681.

Buckley, T.R., D. Attanayake, J.A.A. Nylander, and S. Bradler. 2010. The phylogenetic placement and biogeographical origins of the New Zealand stick insects (Phasmatodea). Systematic Entomology, 35: 207-225.

Buckley, T.R., and S. Bradler. 2010. Tepakiphasma ngatikuri, a new genus and species of stick insect (Phasmatodea) from the Far North of New Zealand. New Zealand Entomologist, 33: 118-126.

Marske, K.A., R.A.B. Leschen, G.M. Barker, and T.R. Buckley. 2009. Phylogeography and ecological niche modeling implicate coastal refugia and trans-alpine dispersal of a New Zealand fungus beetle. Molecular Ecology, 18: 5126–5142.

Buckley, T.R., K. Marske, and D. Attanayake. 2009. Identifying glacial refugia in a geographic parthenogen using palaeoclimate modeling and phylogeography: the New Zealand stick insect Argosarchus horridus (White).Molecular Ecology, 18: 4650-4663.

Zhao, Z.Q, and T.R. Buckley. 2009. Phylogenetic analysis of nematode nuclear 18S rDNA sequences indicates the Genus Tripylina Brzeski, 1964 (Nematoda: Tripylidae de Man, 1876) should be placed in Enoplida. Zootaxa, 2238: 25-32.

O’Neill, S.B., T.R. Buckley, T.R. Jewell, and P.A. Ritchie. 2009. Phylogeographic history of the New Zealand stick insect Niveaphasma annulata (Phasmatodea) estimated from mitochondrial and nuclear loci. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 53: 523–536.

Langhoff, P., A. Authier, T.R. Buckley, J.S. Dugdale, A. Rodrigo, and R.D. Newcomb. 2009. Testing DNA barcoding in endemic New Zealand leafroller moths of the genera Ctenopseustis and Planotortrix. Molecular Ecology Resources, 9: 691-698.

Marshall, D.C., K.B.R. Hill, T.R. Buckley, K. Fontaine, and C. Simon. 2009. Glacial refugia in a maritime temperate climate: cicada (Kikihia subalpina) mtDNA phylogeography in New Zealand. Molecular Ecology, 18: 1995-2009.

Leschen, R.A.B., T.R. Buckley, and R. Hoare. 2009. The use of tag names and New Zealand taxonomy. New Zealand Entomologist, 32: 85-87.

Yeates, G.W., and T.R. Buckley. 2009. First records of mermithid nematodes (Nematoda: Mermithidae) parasitising stick insects (Insecta: Phasmatodea). New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 36: 35-39.

Buckley, T.R., D. Attanayake, and S. Bradler. 2009. Extreme convergence in stick insect evolution: phylogenetic placement of the Lord Howe Island tree lobster, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 276: 1055-1062.

Buckley, T.R., D. Attanayake, D.-C. Park, S. Ravindran, T.R. Jewell, and B.B. Normark. 2008. Investigating hybridization in the parthenogenetic New Zealand stick insect Acanthoxyla (Phasmatodea) using single-copy nuclear loci.Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 48: 335-349.

Buckley, T. R., and E. C. Young. 2008. A revision of the taxonomic status of Sigara potamius and S. limnochares (Hemiptera: Corixidae), water boatmen of braided rivers in New Zealand, New Zealand Entomologist, 31: 47-57.

Leschen, R. A. B., T. R. Buckley, H. M. Harman, and J. Shulmeister. 2008. Determining the origin and age of the Westland Beech (Nothofagus) gap, New Zealand, using fungus beetle genetics. Molecular Ecology, 17: 1256-1276.

Buckley, T. R., and C. Simon. 2007. Evolutionary radiation of the cicada genus Maoricicada Dugdale (Hemiptera: Cicadoidea) and the origins of the New Zealand alpine biota. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 91: 419-435.

Leschen, R. A. B., and T. R. Buckley. 2007. Multistate characters and diet shifts: evolution of Erotylidae (Coleoptera). Systematic Biology, 56: 97-112.

Marshall, D. C., C. Simon, T. R. Buckley. 2006. Accurate branch length estimation in partitioned Bayesian analyses requires accommodation of among-partition rate variation and attention to branch length priors. Systematic Biology, 55: 993-1003.

Simon, C. T. R. Buckley, F. Frati, J. Stewart, and A. Beckenbach. 2006. Incorporating molecular evolution into phylogenetic analysis, and a new compilation of conserved polymerase chain reaction primers for animal mitochondrial DNA. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, 37: 545-579.

Buckley, T. R., M. Cordeiro, D. Marshall, and C. Simon. 2006. Differentiating between hypotheses of lineage sorting and introgression in New Zealand alpine cicadas (Maoricicada Dugdale). Systematic Biology, 55: 411-425.

Posada, D., and T. R. Buckley. 2004. Advantages of AIC and Bayesian approaches over likelihood ratio tests for model selection in phylogenetics. Systematic Biology, 53: 793-808.

Hilario, E., T. R. Buckley, and J. M. Young. 2004. Improved resolution on the phylogenetic relationships among Pseudomonas by the combined analysis of atpD, carA, recA and 16S rDNA. Antoine van Leeuwenhoek International Journal of General and Molecular Microbiology, 86: 51-64.

Arensburger, P. A., T. R. Buckley, C. Simon, M. S. Moulds and K. E. Holsinger. 2004. Biogeography and phylogeny of the New Zealand cicada genera based on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA data. Journal of Biogeography, 31: 557-569.

Misof, B., C. L. Anderson, T. R. Buckley, D. Erpenbeck, A. Rickert, and K. Misof. 2002. An empirical analysis of mt 16S rRNA covarion-like evolution in insects: site-specific rate variation is clustered and frequently detected.Journal of Molecular Evolution, 55: 460-469.

Miller, R. E., T. R. Buckley, and P. S. Manos. 2002. An examination of the monophyly of morning glory taxa using Bayesian phylogenetic inference. Systematic Biology, 51: 740-753.

Buckley, T. R. 2002. Model misspecification and probabilistic tests of topology: evidence from empirical data sets. Systematic Biology, 51: 509-523.

Buckley, T. R., and C. W. Cunningham. 2002. The effects of nucleotide substitution model assumptions on estimates of nonparametric bootstrap support.Molecular Biology and Evolution, 19: 394-402.

Buckley, T. R., P. Arensburger, C. Simon, and G. K. Chambers. 2002. Combined data, Bayesian phylogenetics, and the origin of the New Zealand cicada fauna. Systematic Biology, 51: 4-18.

Liang, Y., T. R. Buckley, L. L. Tu, S. D. Langdon, and T. F. Tedder. 2001. Structural organization of the human MS4A gene cluster on chromosome 11q12. Immunogenetics, 53: 357-368.

Buckley, T. R., C. Simon, and G. K. Chambers. 2001. Phylogeography of the New Zealand cicada Maoricicada campbelli based on mitochondrial DNA sequences: ancient clades associated with Cenozoic environmental change.Evolution, 55: 1395-1407.

Chambers, G. K, W. M. Boon, T. R. Buckley, and R. A. Hitchmough. 2001. Using molecular methods to understand the Gondwanan affinities of the New Zealand biota: three case studies. Australian Journal of Botany, 49: 377-387.

Killian, J. K., T. R. Buckley, N. Stewart, B. L. Munday, and R. L. Jirtle. 2001. Marsupials and Eutherians reunited: genetic evidence for the Theria hypothesis of mammalian evolution. Mammalian Genome, 12: 513-517.

Buckley, T. R., C. Simon, H. Shimodaira, and G. K. Chambers. 2001. Evaluating hypotheses on the origin and evolution of the New Zealand alpine cicadas (Maoricicada) using multiple comparison tests of tree topology. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 18: 223-234.

Buckley, T. R., C. Simon, and G. K. Chambers. 2001. Exploring among-site rate variation models in a maximum likelihood framework using empirical data: effects of model assumptions on estimates of topology, branch lengths and bootstrap support. Systematic Biology, 50: 67-86.

Misof, B., A. M. Rickert, T. R. Buckley, G. Fleck, and K. P. Sauer. 2001. Phylogenetic signal and its decay in mitochondrial SSU and LSU rRNA gene fragments of dragonflies. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 18: 27-37.

Buckley, T. R., C. Simon, P. K. Flook, and B. Misof. 2000. Secondary structure and conserved motifs of the frequently sequenced domains IV and V of the insect mitochondrial large subunit rRNA gene. Insect Molecular Biology, 95: 565-580.



  • Victoria
    PhD Zoology
  • Victoria
    BSc (Hons) Zoology
  • Victoria
    BSc Zoology



  • Associate Editor, Systematic Biology
  • Principal Investigator, Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution
  • Associate Editor, Zookeys, Zookeys



  • Biosystematics
  • Biosystematics (cicadas)
  • Biosystematics (stick insects)
  • Ecology (NZ Cicadas)
  • Insect Molecular systematics and phylogenetics
  • Invertebrate Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Molecular Systematics