Associate Professor Mike Gardner

Associate Professor - Biodiversity/Ecology

College of Science and Engineering

place Biological Sciences (161)
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia
I obtained my degree at QUT in Brisbane, and worked on a highly polymorphic intertidal snail during my honours, investigating the relationship of shell morph to background. I then worked with Dr Bob Ward (CSIRO Marine Labs) for 2 1/2 years in Hobart where I looked at population genetic structure in school and gummy sharks.  I came to Flinders University to study a PhD in a genetic investigation of sociality in a group living lizard with Prof. Mike Bull. I spent time in England for 3 1/2 years studying co-evolution between parasitic hoverflies and their host ants. I returned to Adelaide for a two year postdoc with Flinders Biological Sciences where I linked Flinders and the SARFMEE. I have been in my current ½ role of Lecturer at Flinders since halfway through 2008. The other ½ of my position I currently undertake research with the South Australian Museum.
Degree/Award              Year  Discipline/Field                        Organisation Name
1 Ph.D                             2000      Molecular Ecology             The Flinders University of South Australia
2 Bsc Applied Science      1991      Biology                             Queensland University of Technology
3 Honours in Life Science  1992      Population Genetics           Queensland University of Technology
Honours, awards and grants
  1. 2009 Flinders University Early Career Researcher Award ($2,500 for research). This is a prestigious award made yearly to ECR's with only 10 awarded university wide.
  2. University of Adelaide Qantas Early Career Researcher Travel Award $3100 awarded in Dec 2006 for conference and collaborator visit. Only one travel grant awarded per faculty per year award based on citations.
  3. Flinders University Overseas Conference Travel Grant. Awarded in 1999 to attend the 1999 Joint Meeting of ASIH, HL, SSAR and AES in Penn State, Collage Park, Pennsylvania USA.
  4. Entomological Society of Queensland Student Award (for final year undergraduate project 1991).
Key responsibilities
  • 1/2 time Senior Lecturer in Biodiversity/Ecology
  • 1/2 time Research with South Australian Museum, Affliate with University of Adelaide
Research expertise
Ecological applications
Evolutionary biology
Research interests
My research is aimed at investigating the maintenance of genetic diversity in natural populations, especially how fine scale processes affect broader evolutionary patterns. I use molecular genetic techniques to answer ecological questions around this theme. Much of my work revolves around co-evolutionary questions within host parasite interactions.

Co-evolution and influences on the generation of biodiversity
(with Prof. Jeremy Thomas, Oxford, and Dr Karsten Schönrogge, CEH, and Dr Duncan Mackay)

We ask: why are social parasites so rare compared to their hosts?
Social parasites of ant nests may influence their hosts nest makeup and perhaps be responsible for generating biodiversity within the host and parasite.

Maintaining genetic diversity in wild fisheries
Restocking sea cucumbers for a sustainable fishery (Seafood CRC funded Project).

Host and Parasite Co-evolution (with Prof. Mike Bull, Prob Rob Miller UNM USA)
I am using lizards within the Egernia group to understand the role of immune gene loci (MHC) in social structuring and interation with parasites

Impacts of climate change (with Ass. Prof. Steve Cooper, SAM)
Using past climate change refugial locations to predict future responses This project aims to use a comparative phylogeographic and population genetics approach to examine species refugia which may be important reservoirs of genetic diversity to enable species to adapt to future climate change.

Repetative element evolution (with Dr Emese Meglecz France, Assoc. Prof. Michael Schwarz) 
I am using the data from shotgun sequencing runs that I coordinate to investigate microsatellite motifs across the tree of life. We are investigating if lower effective population size allows for the accumulation of transposable elements.

Molecular and analytical methodological development
With the advent of second generation sequencing machines, marker development for non-model species has become significantly more achievable.

Contact me ( if you would like to put a species on our next run.

Teaching interests
Molecular Ecology, Evolution of Microsatellite DNA, Host and Parasite Co-evolution
Topic coordinator
BIOL2702 Genetics, Evolution and Biodiversity
BIOL4720 Honours, Lit Review and Grant Writing
Topic lecturer
BIOL3722 Conservation and Ecological Genetics
BIOL4720 Honours, Lit Review and Grant Writing
BIOL2702 Genetics, Evolution and Biodiversity
Supervisory interests
Animal ecology, lizards, sleepy lizards, ticks
Host-parasite interactions
Lizard conservation, ecology and behaviour
Molecular ecology
Molecular evolution
Higher degree by research supervision
Principal supervisor: Genome size evolution (1), body size evolution (1), MHC in reptiles (4)
Associate supervisor: pygmy bluetongue dispersal (1), brood reduction with the black faced cormorant (1), tick dispersal (1)
Expert for media contact
Available for contact via
Or contact the media team
+61 8 82012092
0427 398 713
Media expertise
  • Lizards