Research

Entomology

The studies of the native bee fauna resolves around three aspects of bee: systematics, behaviour and pollination. Current research projects involve the systematic revisions of members belonging to the family Halictidae. On a worldwide basis, we are involved with collaborative research involving a revision of the genus Lasioglossum. Members of the single occur on all continents except the Antarctic and exhibit the full continuum of sociality (i.e. solitary to eusocial).

The work will provide a taxonomic framework for this enormous genus. The phylogenetic framework will then allow us to better understanding of the evolution of sociality with these species. In terms of the Australian fauna, this will allow us to speculate on the origins of our fauna, the reasons for the abundance of primitive sociality and where these bees fit into the pollination syndrome of this continent.

Lotic ecology

Dr Richard Marchant researches: community ecology of invertebrates in running waters; multivariate statistical analysis of lotic benthic communities; life histories, population dynamics and secondary production of aquatic insects, in particular Ephemeroptera and Trichoptera; influence of physical disturbances, e.g. dam building, on stream invertebrate communities.

Terrestrial ecology

Ecology of insect communities in Ironbark forests in Victoria; distribution of rare or poorly known taxa in Gippsland, Victoria, for example, the giant Gippsland earthworm and various species of burrowing crayfish (Engaeus spp.).

Herpetology

Research in the herpetology section, overseen by Dr Jane Melville, covers a range of research into the evolution, ecology and molecular systematics of reptiles and amphibians. Current research projects involve the molecular systematics of Australian agamid lizards; the study of ecological diversification in desert lizard communities, population genetics of south-eastern Australian frogs and the evolutionary ecology of Central Asian desert lizards.

Dr Melville has a large research team based at Museum Victoria working on these research projects, which will greatly increase our knowledge of the evolutionary patterns of reptile and amphibian species and will have important implications for conservation and wildlife management.


Last updated 1 May 2008