Cluster leaders: Professor Sonia Kleindorfer and Dr Molly Whalen  (joint cluster leaders)

Cluster members: Members

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.

Teaching related to Biodiversity

  • Bachelor of Science in Biodiversity & Conservation
  • Environmental Studies
  • Ecotourism

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.

Placements of Honours and research higher degree students

  • lizard Some examples of how the above collaboration has generated funding for Flinders University student projects
    two PhD projects (with stipend/salary support) on conservation of Pygmy Blue Tongue lizards, via a National Heritage Grant to Dr Mark Hutchinson of the SA Museum.
  • one PhD and three MSc stipends and maintenance for research into faunal and climatic change at the World heritage Naracoorte Caves.
  • Maintenance support for five honours students researching aspects of biodiversity and environmental change spanning the last 100,000 years at Naracoorte Caves, Eyre Peninsula, and Margaret River WA.
  • one PhD stipend and maintenance from a SA Museum flexible position to examine evolution in the lizard genus Egernia.
  • maintenance support for a PhD project on behavioural ecology of lizards through an ARC grant to Dr Mark Adams of the SA Museum.
  • maintenance support for a PhD student modelling the invasion of feral olives.
  • project costs for two Honours and one Masters student investigating the invasion, impact, seed dispersal ecology and control of Asparagus weeds on the Fleurieu peninsula and Kangaroo Island.
  • research funding and international travel for several PhD and honours students through ARC grants in collaboration with investigators from Canada, Switzerland and South Africa.
  • Funding for a PhD study of DNA variation in the mallees of genus Eucalyptus in colaboration with Dr Margaret Byrne of Conservation and Land Management, WA.
  • stipend and maintenance support from WMC (Olympic Dam) for an Honours student working on spiders and a PhD student working on an endangered plant species on mound springs near Lake Eyre.
  • maintenance support from the Wildlife Conservation Fund for a PhD student working on the impacts on native flora and fauna of an invasive ant species.

Employment of Honours and research higher degree graduates

Many students who have completed studies with members of this cluster have gone on to postdoctoral studies, or to teaching positions in Universities. Others have gained employment in government, industry or community positions directly related to the activities of the research cluster.