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Alex Boast

Ecosystems & Conservation
Alex Boast
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Research interests

I am a palaeoecologist with a broad range of interests, including in animal and plant ecology, biogeography, conservation biology and phylogenetics. I specialise on using past data (e.g., ancient DNA, fossils or prehistoric pollen or spores) to understand past ecosystems and how they have changed to present.

Specific Interests include:

  • Using multiproxy evidence (e.g., ancient DNA, pollen records and distributions of fossils) to investigate palaeoecological questions.
  • Recovering the natural distributions and habitat preferences of animal species using the fossil record and other palaeoecological data.
  • Using palaeoecological data to guide conservation or habitat restoration.
  • Phylogenetics and evolutionary history of NZ’s biota.
  • Biogeography of southern hemisphere plants and animals.
  • Reconstructing pre-human ecosystems on oceanic islands.
  • Reconstructing the past diets and behaviours of extinct or endangered species.
  • The impacts of severed species interactions on wider ecosystems (e.g., animal-plant disperser / pollinator roles, animal-fungi-plant tripartite mutualisms, or parasite-host interactions).


University of Auckland
PhD in Environmental Sciences

University of Adelaide
MPhil in Biological Sciences

Victoria University of Wellington
MSc with 1st Class Honours, Ecology and Biodiversity

Victoria University of Wellington
BSc in Ecology and Biodiversity / Marine Biology


Boast, AP, Wood JR, Bolstridge N, Perry G L, Wilmshurst JM. (2023). Ancient and modern scats record broken ecological interactions and a decline in dietary breadth of the critically endangered kākāpō parrot (Strigops habroptilus). Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 11: 157.

Boast AP (2019). A Holocene fossil South Island takahē (Porphyrio hochstetteri) in a high-altitude north-west Nelson cave. Notornis 66: 34-36

Boast AP, Chapman B, Herrera MB, Worthy TH, Scofield P, Tennyson AJD, Houde P, Bunce M, Cooper A, Mitchell K (2019). Mitochondrial genomes from New Zealand’s extinct adzebills (Aves: Aptornithidae: Aptornis) support a sister-taxon relationship with the Afro-Madagascan Sarothruridae. Diversity 11: 24

Boast AP, Weyrich LS, Wood JR, Metcalf JL, Knight R, Cooper A (2018). Coprolites reveal ecological interactions lost with the extinction of New Zealand birds. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 115: 1546-1551