PhD Student
Area of work
Conservation Genomics
Contact details

University of Auckland
3 Symonds Street
Auckland 1010
New Zealand

Google Scholar

Research Interests

Laura obtained her Bachelor’s degree in biology from the Technical University Braunschweig in Germany, where for her bachelor's thesis she analysed the phylogenetic diversity and structure of cutaneous bacterial communities among different body parts and habitats of fire salamander larvae. After a volunteering internship at the Rotokare Scenic Reserve, New Zealand, Laura completed her Master’s degree in Animal Ecology at Lund University, Sweden. In her thesis project, she investigated chromosomal regions associated with bill morphology in the endemic Nesospiza bunting of the Tristan da Cunha archipelago. In 2018, I went on an exchange with the University of Canterbury, and conducted an Erasmus+ traineeship in the R&D team of a multi-species breeding company in the Netherlands.

Laura's main scientific interests lie in evolutionary ecology and conservation genetics, while in her free time she enjoys hiking, singing and volunteering in some of New Zealand’s most beautiful reserves.

Current Research

Laura's current project focuses on conservation genomics of a threatened, endemic passerine of New Zealand: the hihi (Notiomystis cincta). As part of her PhD, using SNP chip data to validate the pedigree and examine the genomic underpinnings for certain morphological traits known to be under selection. As the hihi has a successful translocation history, it presents an excellent study species to help answer some of the most pressing questions in ecology: how much of the genome needs to be taken into account to reliably measure inbreeding, how do we best quantify inbreeding depression, and what is the benefit of genomic data in a conservation management context?

Feel free to contact Laura via email with any enquiries/questions.

Professional history
  • 2019–Present: PhD Candidate, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, New Zealand
  • 2018: Animal Breeding internship at Hendrix Genetics, The Netherlands
  • 2016–2018: M.Sc. in Animal Ecology, Lunds Universitet, Sweden
  • 2012–2015: B.Sc. in Biology, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Germany

Sanchez, E., Bletz, M.C., Duntsch, L., Bhuju, S., Geffers, R., Jarek, M., ... & Vences, M. (2017). Cutaneous bacterial communities of a poisonous salamander: a perspective from life stages, body parts and environmental conditions. Microbial Ecology, 73(2), 455-465.


Duntsch, L., Tomotani, B.M., de Villemereuil, P., Brekke, P., Lee, K.D., Ewen, J.G., & Santure, A.W. (2020). Polygenic basis for adaptive morphological variation in a threatened Aotearoa| New Zealand bird, the hihi (Notiomystis cincta). Proceedings of the Royal Society B287(1933), 20200948.


Duntsch, L., Whibley, A., Brekke, P., Ewen, J.G., & Santure, A.W. (2021). Genomic data of different resolutions reveal consistent inbreeding estimates but contrasting homozygosity landscapes for the threatened Aotearoa New Zealand hihi. Molecular Ecology.


Forsdick, N., Adams, C.I., Alexander, A., Clark, A.C., Collier-Robinson, L., Cubrinovska, I., ... & Steeves, T.E. (2021). Current applications and future promise of genetic/genomic data for conservation in an Aotearoa New Zealand context.