Associate Professor Molly Whalen

Academic Status

College of Science and Engineering

place Biological Sciences (009/011A)
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia
Key responsibilities
  • Co-coordinator of BSc Degree in Biodiversity & Conservation
  • Leader (with Dr Kleindorfer) of the Biodiversity & Ecology cluster
  • Coordinator of BSc Ecology, Behaviour and Evolution Major
Research expertise
Plant biology
Research interests

My research interests are in plant-animal interactions, plant ecology and systematics, and conservation biology, and my research program combines systematic, ecological and population genetic approaches. Dr. Duncan Mackay and I jointly supervise a lab focusing on the study of plants, insects and their interactions.

Plant-animal interactions

I am particularly interested in the ecological and behavioural aspects of plant-animal mutualisms such as pollination and seed dispersal, the evolutionary dynamics of these relationships, and their conservation biology.

Conservation biology

My interests in this area include the biology and management of both rare plants and weedy plants, the conservation of soil seed banks (particularly in relation to fire and grazing impacts), the reproductive ecology of weedy plant species and their impacts on native plant communities, and the effects of fragmentation, urbanization and climate change on plant-animal interactions.

Systematics, evolution and ecology of the Australian flora

I am also interested in the systematics and evolution of the Australian flora. I have recently been involved in a collaborative project on the systematics of exotic Rubus species in Australia and we are currently investigating the ecology and population biology of weedy blackberry species in South Australia. Another group in which I have a particular interest is the halophytic plant family Frankeniaceae which occurs in Mediterranean and dry climatic regions in habitats ranging from coastal salt marshes to saline and gypseous habitats in desert regions. My interest in the Frankeniaceae is part of a broader interest in the ecology and conservation of wetland and halophytic communities, including salt marsh and mangrove communities, and the evolution of halophytic and wetland plant groups.

Higher degree by research supervision
Principal supervisor: Plant systematics (1), Plant ecology and conservation biology (2), Plant ecology and pollination biology (1)
Associate supervisor: Population genetics of aquatic invertebrates (1), Insect ecology (1), Plant ecology (1)
Principal supervisor: Plant ecology (2), Plant systematics (1)
Associate supervisor: Insect-plant interactions (1), Plant conservation biology (1), Plant ecophysiology (2)
Expert for media contact
Conservation Biology
Plant Systematics
Plant-Animal Interactions and Plant Reproductive Biology
Available for contact via
Or contact the media team
+61 8 82012092
0427 398 713
Media expertise
  • Plants
  • Conservation Biology
  • Plant Systematics
  • Plant-Animal Interactions and Plant Reproductive Biology

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