Conservation & Biodiversity | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Conservation & Biodiversity


Conservation and Biodiversity Research

This theme is focused on ecological research and the application of molecular tools to address key questions and challenges associated with the conservation of global biodiversity. Some of the overarching foci include nationally prominent challenges such as the imbalance of key predator-prey relationships in the Great Barrier Reef as well as finding biological control solutions to coral diseases. We are also developing molecular techniques to assess community scale diversity and applying DNA barcoding to address the issue of ecosystem-wide biodiversity retention.

Ecological genetics and interdisciplinary approaches (e.g. climate modelling; population demographic and habitat modelling) are utilised by our team to explore issues associated with threatened species, with an aim to advise best-practice conservation management and restoration. Members of our theme are monitoring microbial diversity and working to understand their functional roles in ecosystems, and we are actively engaged in applied research to develop effective biological control methodologies to treat pathogenic fungi that cause tree death.

Ancient genomics is also a strength, including research on the conservation and evolutionary genomics of iconic Australian species, such as modern and ancient dingoes. Our conservation and biodiversity team has also implemented a collaborative biobank in conjunction with the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital (AZUSC Biobank) as a means to assess and conserve biodiversity, which has led to research into the prevalence of parasites and viral and bacterial pathogens on native birds and mammals, alongside host-pathogen/parasite evolution. We are also working collaboratively domestically and internationally to build both sample/DNA and sequence reference libraries that are being used for a variety of projects, including an Angiosperm phylogeny.

Key researchers and research areas

Dr Gabriel Conroy
Dr Gabriel Conroy
  • Ecological/conservation genetics
  • Threatened species management
  • Fire ecology
  • Population viability analysis
Renfu Shao
Dr Renfu Shao
  • Evolution of mitochondrial genomes
  • Function of mitochondrial genomes
  • Biodiversity, taxonomy and systematics of Australian native sucking lice
  • Biodiversity, taxonomy and molecular phylogeny of parasitic lice of Australian birds
Sankar Subramanian
Dr Sankar Subramanian
  • Population genomics
  • Molecular evolution
  • Ancient DNA
  • Bioinformatics
Associate Professor Alison Shapcott
  • Population genetics and ecology of rainforest plants
  • Conservation and landscape genetics, especially of rare species and palms
  • Population and reproductive ecology of plants and its integration with population genetics, climate change, spatial and landscape ecology to assess species and population viability and restoration
  • Impacts of climate change on rare and widespread species
  • The evolution and maintenance of biodiversity
  • Restoration ecology and genetics
  • Spatial ecology especially of rare species distributions, metapopulations and fragmentation and fire
  • Conservation and assessment and restoration of biodiversity
  • DNA barcoding
Scott Cummins With Seaweed
Professor Scott Cummins
  • Molecular neuroethology
  • Protein pheromones
  • Neuropeptides
  • Functional genomics
  • Invertebrate biology
  • Invasive species