New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2013) 37(1): 151- 155

Pollen analysis of coprolites reveals dietary details of heavy-footed moa (Pachyornis elephantopus) and coastal moa (Euryapteryx curtus) from Central Otago

Short Communication
Jamie R. Wood *
Janet M. Wilmshurst  
  1. Landcare Research, PO Box 40, Lincoln 7640, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

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. The pollen results reveal a broader selection of plant taxa consumed by both bird species, which has helped to discriminate between the predominantly grazing habit of the heavy-footed moa and the browsing habit of the coastal moa.