Senior Curator, Ichthyology
Source: Museum Victoria
Dr Martin Gomon is regarded as Victoria’s authority on the identification and distribution of fishes. His research interests focus on the diversity and evolution of fishes in southern Australia and throughout the world.
Born and educated in the USA, Dr Gomon arrived in Australia in 1979 to take up the newly created position of Curator of Fishes at the then National Museum of Victoria. He immediately set about reorganising the museum’s historically significant fish collection and building it to where it today ranks as the third largest in Australia.
He has actively collaborated with colleagues throughout Australia and internationally on a wide variety of studies, from taxonomic revisions to environmental modelling, using fish distributions to act as surrogates for habitats. Although scientific in the main, his publications also range into the realms of semi-popular and utilitarian.
Dr Gomon has promoted the efforts of the ichthyological scientific community in Australia at a time of dwindling numbers and declining resources, with members cotinuing to punch above their weight. The OzFishNet consortium, comprising Australia’s fish taxonomists, for which Dr Gomon was an organising and founding member, continues to attract funding for projects like the Fishes of Australian website.
Fishes of Australia website
A one-stop source of information for all species of Australian fishes, available through the web. Although still in its infancy, the website is a collaborative effort of the OzFishNet consortium that will eventually provide photos, distributions and verified information for Australia’s nearly 5000 species, as well as an interactive means to identify them. This ABRS funded initiative is managed by Dr Gomon and Ms Dianne Bray of Museum Victoria.
Australian Fish Barcode of Life
It is now widely recognised that DNA is a useful tool for identifications. The 600 base pair segment referred to as Cytochrome Oxidase, Subunit One (CO1) has proven to be especially useful for separating and identifying species, particularly among fishes. This project is aimed at documenting this small part of the genome for all species of Australian fishes, so that sequences may be used like fingerprints to identify difficult specimens, such as when dealing with isolated body parts or early life stages. CO1 sequences are made available to the international community through the BOLD website. Dr Gomon is Deputy Chair for the project.
Documenting Australia’s Unnamed Fishes
Despite the concerted efforts of Australian fish taxonomists in recent years to redress the problem, about 10 per cent of Australia's known fish species remain undescribed and unnamed. The preparation and publication of formal descriptions of previously undescribed species takes up significant amounts of research time, with dedicated issues of museum journals, like Vol. 63, No. 1 ofMemoirs of Museum Victoria, representing major initiatives toward this end.
Fishes of Australia’s Southern Coast
A major responsibility of researchers is to translate and communicate science to the broader community. For scientists focusing on classification and interrelationships of organisms, identification guides are the logical outcomes for this process. The recently published Fishes of Australia’s Southern Coast provides the most comprehensive and up-to-date treatment of Australia’s 865 temperate marine fishes.
Last updated 1 November 2012