Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

QUAVONZ: Quaternary vegetation of New Zealand

QUAVONZ will be an online portal that will bring to life the vegetation history of New Zealand over the past 1.8 million years (the Quaternary Period).

The site will allow users to browse past vegetation change for geographic regions, time slices, and plant species of interest, incorporating the latest mapping and animation technologies. Users will also have the opportunity to drill down and access the underlying data if they wish.

What data will be used?

Pollen records

The majority of the data will consist of pollen records extracted from sediment cores. By analysing pollen grains preserved in ancient sediment, researchers can identify which plants were once present in an area, and how the proportions of different plant species changed through time. Radiocarbon dating at each stie can be used to place a time scale on these events.


Plants can leave larger and more localised signatures of their former presence, such as charcoal and wood in soils, and seed and leaves in cave and rock shelter sediments.

Ancient DNA  

The extraction and sequencing of DNA from ancient sediments to reconstruct past plant communities is a rapidly developing technology, and can provide further complementary evidence for New Zealand’s vegetation history.  

How could the site be used?

  • Curiosity: Find out what plants once grew in your local area.
  • Education: Discover how vegetation across New Zealand responded to past climate change and the arrival of humans.
  • Restoration: Learn what plant species once naturally occurred in different areas to help inform and guide replanting and restoration programmes.
  • Research: Uncover and download raw datasets to help answer your own specific research questions.

At this stage, we would appreciate any feedback on the proposed site, such as features you might like to see incorporated into the design.