Aileen Gordon


Phone: 021 0253 0202
Office: CO421


BSc Victoria University of Wellington (2020)
MSc Candidate in Geology

Masters thesis


Plant chemotaxonomy as a tool for reconstructing Aotearoa-New Zealand’s paleoenvironment.


Project objectives and description

Aotearoa-New Zealand’s history of geological isolation means that it is host to many unique forms of plant life, with ~84% of native plants being endemic to Aotearoa-New Zealand (DOC, 2020). Yet, factors such as climate change, land use, introduced pests and diseases have major consequences for biodiversity loss. This thesis will use biomarkers (geochemical fossils) to provide a greater understanding of Aotearoa-New Zealand’s bioheritage by

(1) developing a chemotaxonomic classification for native New Zealand plants, and

(2) test the validity of the chemotaxonomic classification by reconstructing the vegetation of Adelaide Tarn, Nelson.

The thesis will contribute to our understanding of Aotearoa-New Zealand’s unique biodiversity and contribute to the overall research in this area by providing a classification system that can be used as a tool in future research.