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Dr Nic Rawlence

Director, Otago Palaeogenetics LaboratoryNic moa bone

(Co-Director: Professor Jon Waters)


Phone 64-3-479-5385

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Research Interests

  • Ancient DNA (Otago Palaeogenetics Laboratory)
  • Evolution and palaeoecology of extinct fauna
  • Effects of climate change and human impact on past ecosystems
  • Palaeoenvironmental DNA
  • Conservation biology
  • Fisheries induced evolution
  • Conservation Palaeontology/Palaeoecology

Nic cave 2

Research projects

  • Impact of humans and climate change on New Zealand’s terrestrial, coastal and marine fauna
  • Evolution and phylogeography of New Zealand’s extinct avian fauna
  • Southern hemisphere biogeography
  • Fisheries induced evolution

Research Highlights and Publicity

Chatham Island sea lion

Otago and Foveaux Shag

Shag demographics

Penguin turnover,-yellow-eyed-penguin-in

Elephant birds

Polynesian chickens

Current student projects in the Otago Palaeogenetics Laboratory

  • Afroditi Kardamaki – PhD – ancient DNA of New Zealand waterfowl
  • Luke Easton – PhD – ancient DNA of Leiopelmatid frogs
  • Megan Askew – MSc – ancient DNA of elephant seals
  • Eduard Mas – visiting MSc student – ancient DNA of takahe

Recent student projects in the Otago Palaeogenetics Laboratory

  • Afroditi Kardamaki – visiting MSc student – ancient DNA of black swans
  • Nick Yeats – BSc Hons – population genetics of blue-eyes shags
  • Alex Salis – BSc Hons – ancient DNA of New Zealand fur seals

Nic cave 1Otago Shag

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Rawlence, N. J., Collins, C. J., Anderson, C. N. K., Maxwell, J. J., Smith, I. W. G., Robertson, B. C., Knapp, M., Horsburgh, K. A., Stanton, J.-A. L., Scofield, R. P., … Matisoo-Smith, E. A., & Waters, J. M. (2016). Human-mediated extirpation of the unique Chatham Islands sea lion and implications for the conservation management of remaining New Zealand sea lion populations. Molecular Ecology, 25(16), 3950-3961. doi: 10.1111/mec.13726

Rawlence, N. J., Wood, J. R., Bocherens, H., & Rogers, K. M. (2016). Dietary interpretations for extinct megafauna using coprolites, intestinal contents and stable isotopes: Complimentary or contradictory? Quaternary Science Reviews, 142, 173-178. doi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.05.017

Rawlence, N. J., Kennedy, M., Anderson, C. N. K., Prost, S., Till, C. E., Smith, I. W. G., Scofield, R. P., … Hamel, J., Lalas, C., Matisoo-Smith, E. A., & Waters, J. M. (2015). Geographically contrasting biodiversity reductions in a widespread New Zealand seabird. Molecular Ecology, 24(18), 4605-4616. doi: 10.1111/mec.13338

Rawlence, N. J., Perry, G. L. W., Smith, I. W. G., Scofield, R. P., Tennyson, A. J. D., Matisoo-Smith, E. A., Boessenkool, S., … Waters, J. M. (2015). Radiocarbon-dating and ancient DNA reveal rapid replacement of extinct prehistoric penguins. Quaternary Science Reviews, 112, 59-65. doi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.01.011

Mitchell, K. J., Llamas, B., Soubrier, J., Rawlence, N. J., Worthy, T. H., Wood, J., … Cooper, A. (2014). Ancient DNA reveals elephant birds and kiwi are sister taxa and clarifies ratite bird evolution. Science, 344(6186), 898-900. doi: 10.1126/science.1251981