For tens of millions of years the ratite moa (Aves: Dinornithiformes) were the largest herbivores in New Zealand’s terrestrial ecosystems. In occupying this ecological niche for such a long time, moa undoubtedly had a strong influence on the evolution of New Zealand’s flora and played important functional roles within ecosystems. The extinction of moa in the 15th century ce therefore marked a significant event in New Zealand’s biological history, not only in terms of biodiversity loss, but in the loss of an evolutionarily and ecologically distinct order of birds.
Palynological analysis of coprolites (preserved dung) can reveal detailed information on the diets and habitats of extinct species. Here, we present pollen assemblages from coprolites of the extinct heavy-footed moa (Pachyornis elephantopus) and coastal moa (Euryapteryx curtus) from the Central Otago region of the South Island, New Zealand. The data complement previous macrofossil (seed and leaf) analyses of the same specimens, and reinforce the interpretation that both species had generalist feeding ecologies.