Biodiversity and Ecology


Researchers in this cluster focus on understanding the diversity and dynamics of the native biota of Australia.

Although different researchers focus on different organisms, there is a common thread in developing an understanding of Australian species that live or have lived in the Australian environment.  Our work includes investigation of the basic ecology, behaviour and evolution of a diverse range of species in the Australian biota. We are involved in biodiversity surveys of natural and disturbed habitats, conservation ecology and ecosystem management, and the interpretation of past and present ecosystems for the development of ecotourism.


Research Expertise

Researchers in this cluster have projects investigating:

  • Behavioural ecology and evolution of Australian lizards, birds, ants, bees, thrips and marine invertebrates
  • Evolution and speciation of coastal and inland plants
  • Palaeontology of Quaternary fossil deposits and impacts of climate change
  • Interactions of parasite and host populations
  • Ecology, invasion, impact and control of introduced weed species
  • Impacts of aquaculture and fishing activities on marine biodiversity
  • Impacts of mining activity on terrestrial biodiversity
  • Molecular phylogenetics of native biota
  • Systematics and conservation of Australian dryland plant group

Connections with government, industry, and community groups

  • Some research projects by members of this research cluster are curiosity driven and funded by ARC and other external granting agencies. This work develops our fundamental understanding of the Australian biota and our expertise to handle specific biodiversity issues.
  • We work closely with National Parks and Wildlife, the Plant Biodiversity Centre (formally the State Herbarium), the SA Museum and SARDI on conservation projects and biodiversity surveys.
  • We have developed links and funding through the Heritage unit of Environment Australia and S.A. National Parks to develop World Heritage listed fossil sites for research and tourism interpretation. The underpinning research involves ongoing collaboration with the Research School of Earth Sciences at ANU. We are developing further links with the tourism industry for similar projects at other sites.
  • We have had funds from mining and fishing industries to assist in environmental impact surveys.
  • We have developed links with and received funds from Animal and Plant Control Commission (PIRSA), local government (Victor Harbor, Yankalilla, Onkaparinga, Alexandrina), and Department of Heritage (Wildlife Conservation Grants, and Native Vegetation Council) for projects investigating the impacts and control of invasive organisms, including weeds and ants, in South Australia.
  • We have collaborative links with national and international institutions, including CSIRO, and universities in the USA, Canada, Switzerland and South Africa.