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Putting the dead to work: reconstructing NZ's ecological past | Nelson

Janet reconstructs our recent ecological past, using fossil plant and animal remains from NZ and the Nelson region.

Associate Professor Janet Wilmshurst FRSNZ

Manaaki Whanua - Landcare Research and the University of Auckland's Joint Graduate School for Biodiversity and Biosecurity

Celebrating 25 years of Marsden Funding Te Pūtea Rangahau a Marsden

Janet Wilmshurst is at the leading edge of New Zealand and global research in pre-historic plant and animal ecology, fire disturbance, and the nature and impacts of human settlement on natural ecosystems. Her research has focused on using the past to better understand present day ecosystems and their resilience to global change.

Janet's study sites include North West Nelson, as well as islands in the Pacific and offshore of New Zealand, from Northland to the subantarctics. She uses the remains of plants and animals preserved in sediments and coprolites (animal dung) to reconstruct key aspects of New Zealand’s past ecological history. Her talk will include research about the diets and ecological role of moa and kākāpō that once roamed Kahurangi National Park, and how dating signs of kiore (the Pacific rat) helped resolve a long-running debate about initial human arrival.

She has received many distinctions and honours for her research, which has included pinpointing the timing of faunal extinctions and initial human arrival in New Zealand; overturning our view of what ‘natural’ baselines for vegetation should be; and unearthing long forgotten plant-animal interactions, allowing for more informed conservation and restoration management plans. Janet has served as President of the New Zealand Ecological Society, and is actively involved in supporting ecological research in New Zealand through her work on committees, publications and panels.

EventBrite listing fieldwork Janet

About the Marsden Fund 25 Series

The Marsden Fund 25 Series celebrates 25 years of funding excellent research through regional lectures, online profiles and video interviews.

Marsden Fund Te Pūtea Rangahau a Marsden was established by the New Zealand government in 1994. Since then, it has driven world-class research in New Zealand by supporting and incentivising excellent researchers to work on their best and boldest ideas, to connect internationally, leading to new knowledge and skills with the potential for significant downstream impact for Aotearoa.

To celebrate, the Marsden Fund 25 Series shines a light on 25 researchers to reflect on the depth and breadth of research excellence supported by this funding. Over coming months, there will be 15 regional lectures and 10 online profiles to explore.

Brand image Marsden25



Janet Wilmshurst

Associate Professor


Royal Society Te Apārangi


Elim Christian Centre Nelson 625 Main Road, Nelson, Nelson 7011

6:00pm Thu 21 November, 2019 - 7:00pm Thu 21 November, 2019