Tess Cole (PhD candidate, University of Otago)

Project: Ancient and modern crested penguins (Eudyptes spp.)

I undertook a BSc in Biodiversity and Conservation at Flinders University (South Australia), combined with a year at the University of Stirling (Scotland). Following this, I undertook my BScHons in the Molecular Ecology Lab at Flinders University, studying the population genetics of the Southern Pygmy Perch (Nannoperca australis), a highly endangered freshwater fish that inhabits the Murray-Darling Basin. I then worked as a Research Assistant between the University of Veterinary Medicine (Austria), and the University of Giessen (Germany), exploring population dynamics and evolutionary history of Sub-Antarctic prions (Pachyptila spp).

After dabbling in ancient DNA and metabarcoding techniques at Curtin University (Western Australia) I re-located to Christchurch (New Zealand), where I have worked on a range of ancient-DNA projects in the long-term ecology lab (LTEL). I excitedly commenced my PhD in December 2015 out of the Department of Zoology at Otago University; although I am primarily based at the LTEL.

My research is on ancient and modern crested penguins (Eudyptes spp.) with broad aims to explore temporal and spatial evolution across the clade using a combination of genomics and morphology. This PhD provides me with an excellent framework to use a range of cutting-edge techniques to address diverse evolutionary questions, and has many opportunities for collaboration, and *hopefully* field-work in the Sub-Antarctic!


Cole TL, Rawlence NJ, Dussex N, Ellenberg U, Houston DM, Mattern T, Miskelly CM, Morrison KW, Scofield RP, Tennyson AJD, Thompson DR, Wood JR, Waters JM. (in press) Ancient DNA of crested penguins: Testing for temporal genetic shifts in the world’s most diverse penguin cladeMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.

Rawlence NJ, Tennyson AJD, Cole TL, Verry A, Scofield RP. (in press) Evidence for breeding of Megadyptes penguins in North Island at the time of human arrivalNew Zealand Journal of Zoology.

Heenan PB, Wood JR, Cole TL. (2018) A partial cpDNA trnL sequence from the extinct legume Streblorrhiza speciosa confirms its placement in the tribe Coluteae (Fabaceae)Phytotaxa 374.

Seersholm FV, Cole TL, Grealy A, Rawlence NJ, Greig K, Knapp M, Stat M, Hansen AJ, Easton LJ, Shepherd L, Tennyson A, Scofield P, Walter R, Bunce M. (2018) Subsistence practices, past biodiversity, and anthropogenic impacts revealed by New Zealand-wide ancient DNA surveyProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115: 7771-7775.

Cole TL, Wood JR. (2018) The ancient DNA revolution: the latest era in unearthing New Zealand’s faunal history. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 45: 91-120.

Cole TL, Waters JM, Shepherd L, Rawlence NJ, Joseph L, Wood JR (2017) Ancient DNA reveals that the ‘extinct’ Hunter Island penguin (Tasidyptes hunteri) is not a distinct taxon. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 182: 459-464.

Cole TL, Wood JR (2017) Hybridisation in the last remaining individuals of the extinct Fiordland population of brown teal (Anas chlorotis). Records of the Canterbury Museum 31: 159-165.

Cole TL, Hammer MP, Unmack PJ, Teske PR, Brauer CJ, Adams M, Beheregaray LB (2016) Range-wide fragmentation in a threatened fish associated with post-European settlement modification in the Murray–Darling Basin, AustraliaConservation Genetics 17: 1377.

Wood JM, Crown A, Cole TL, Wilmshurst JM. (2016). Microscopic and ancient DNA profiling of prehistoric dog (kurÄ«) coprolites from northern New Zealand.Journal of Archaeological Science Reports 6: 496-505.

Moodley Y, Masello JF, Cole TL, Calderon L, Munimanda GK, Thali MR, Alderman R, Cuthbert RJ, Marin M, Massaro M, Navarro J, Phillips RA, Ryan PG, Suazo CG, Cherel Y, Weimerskirch H, Quillfeldt P (2015) Evolutionary factors affecting the cross-species utility of newly developed microsatellite markers in seabirds. Molecular Ecology Resources 15: 1046-1058.