People | Ngā Tāngata


Janet Wilmshurst

Palaeoecologist and Director of the Long-Term Ecology Laboratory. Analyses modern and fossil pollen, charcoal and testate amoebae analyses of lakes, bogs, swamps, coprolites and cave sediments to reconstruct past vegetation and fire history, initial human impacts, and former plant-animal interactions of extinct birds and introduced kiore (Rattus exulans). Key interests: reconstructing past ecologies and prehuman baseline states to answer current conservation issues.

Matt McGlone

Emeritus researcher. Analyses of long-term vegetation and climate history of New Zealand, plant biogeography, human and climate change impacts on biodiversity. Numerous post-retirement projects on the go, current obsession: gender in the New Zealand flora, taxonomy and ecology of kanuka (Kunzea spp.).

Kieren Mitchell

Palaeoecologist and molecular biologist and ancient DNA lab director. Specialises in studying biodiversity change, adaptation, evolution, and extinction using genetic data from modern and ancient organisms. Key interests: composition of past plant and animal communities; biology and ecology of extinct species; cryptic species and conservation palaeobiology; historical processes underlying present-day biodiversity.

Alex Boast

Palaeoecologist. Uses multiproxy data such as ancient DNA, pollen, fungal spores, fossils, archaeological remains and historical reports to answer questions relevant to contemporary ecosystems. Areas of interest include: reconstructing past distributions of plants and animals; impacts of extinction; biogeography;and evolution of NZ’s biota.


Jo Carpenter

Researcher of plant-animal interactions and how they have shifted over time, the role of antagonistic interactions (predation, herbivory, etc) in island ecosystems, and factors affecting the conservation of New Zealand's forest birds.

Olivia Burge

A quantitative ecologist with a focus on community ecology, often in wetland ecosystems. Interested in invasion, resilience, plant traits and integrating long-term ecological data with neo-ecological data are key interests – particularly where the intersect.

Research technicians

Nic Bolstridge

Prepares microfossil slides from lake sediments, peats, soils, coprolites, caves, fresh dung, and feathers, and manages the Microfossil Preparation Laboratory and refrigerated sample archives.

Karen Boot

Prepares samples for sediment and charcoal analyses, manages the Subsampling Room, field store, transitional facility, and sample archives.


Jacqui Vanderhoorn

PhD project: Building the QUAVONZ database and exploring how representation of plant taxa in New Zealand’s palynoflora affect our interpretation of post-glacial vegetation history.

Past Long Term Ecology Lab Researchers

Jamie Wood

Palaeoecology researcher and manager of ancient DNA laboratory 2009-2022

Edward Mitchell

International collaborator from Institute of Biology, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland

Lea de Nascimento

Marie Curie Post doctoral fellowship: Tracking past human impact on islands by improving palaeoecological reconstructions with PalEnDNA analysis

Francisca Diaz

International collaborator: Extraction of ancient DNA from the Atacama rodent fossil coprolites to reconstruct vegetation change.

Michelle McKeown

Post-doctoral project: Creating checklist and LUCID key for New Zealand testate amoebae and developing indicators for wetland condition.

Jessica Rivera Perez

Post-doctoral project: Reconstructing diets of prehistoric kiore in New Zealand using ancient DNA

Alex Boast

PhD Project: Palaeoecology and ancient DNA of the kakapo

Tess Cole

PhD Project: Fire and Ice: Genomic insights into the evolution, biogeography and extinction of modern penguins

Helen Boothby

Participant Teacher on the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Science Teacher Leadership Programme