Briar Taylor Smith

Briar Taylor Smith

Terrestrial Ecologist

Briar Taylor Smith

Team Leader – Terrestrial Ecology


Briar has a background in genetics, invertebrate ecology, biosystematics, invasive species and environmental education. Briar’s PhD research, “Evolution of diversity: analysis of species and speciation in Hemiandrus ground wētā” used morphological and molecular methods to explore the evolution of invertebrate diversity in New Zealand. She showed that even amongst our iconic macroinvertebrates, the wētā, there is still much unrecognized species diversity. Briar has described many new species of wētā, including Hemiandrus brucei, named after her grandad Bruce. Briar has worked on various herpetological biosecurity projects. She has been working with MPI on an incursion of European Alpine Newts, and has been involved in many aspects of the project including trap development, data management and running behavioural trials. She also works with Auckland Council monitoring the progress of rainbow skink eradication efforts on Great Barrier Island. Briar is a confident communicator and has won awards for her conference presentations. She loves to engage with people of all ages and from all walks of life. Before joining Kessels Ecology, Briar was working as an independent ecological consultant on biosecurity and biosystematics projects, as well as working as a childrens’ environmental educator. Community and education are very important to Briar. Currently she volunteers for Forest & Bird’s Kiwi Conservation Club as the Waikato coordinator and organizes fun events to get children into nature.


  • PhD – Zoology (doctoral scholar), Massey University (Palmerston North), 2015.
  • Bachelor of Science – honours (first class) – Zoology, Massey University, 2010.
  • Bachelor of Biomedical Science/Bachelor of Arts, Victoria University, 2009.

Key Skills

  • Project management
  • Lizard surveys
  • Invertebrate surveys
  • Review and evaluation of reports and research
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Data analysis
  • Data management
  • R statistics
  • Environmental education

I have always been fascinated by the diversity of life, especially the teeny-tiny life that is all around us going largely unnoticed. I am so fortunate to work in a varied and challenging role that combines my love of nature with my passion for people.


  • Terrestrial ecology
  • invertebrate ecology
  • mapping
  • data management

Society Memberships

  • Entomological Society of New Zealand
  • Forest & Bird Waikato – committee member