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Dear all,

Happy World Sparrow Day!

Don’t forget to participate in Campus Clean UP on March 24…I will be busy MOOPing!



General News and Announcements

Job Opportunity

We are advertising a 4-year fixed term reserach-teaching position (Level A) in Animal Behaviour. Applications are through the MQ system:

2014 Annual Report

It is time again to collate our achievements for the annual report. Please send me any or all of the the following:

1) Research Story – if you had an outstanding paper in 2014 we want to feature it with a short explanation and photo

2) Research Impact – if your research had a broader impact (beyond citations) we want to tell that story

3) Alumni – we want to feature 4-5 alumni from the Department and what they are up to now, please send me suggestions

4) Photos, photos, photos – people, plants, animals, stuff!

5) awards, prizes etc!

Give thanks to Taxonomists!

Yesterday was #TaxonomyDay!  Many biologists rely on the work of taxonomists in their research but they are often under appreciated.  If interested, have a look at the hashtag on twitter or check out this blog and its links. ( Give thanks for taxonomists!

Image from:


Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 10.02.42 am

We need your images!

We need photos for the annual report, but also for the computer screens around the buildings…from micro to macroscopic!

Learning and Teaching Grants

The first due dates for internal L&T Grants are approaching:

  • Innovation and Scholarship Program (ISP) Grants: Closing date 2 April 2015 (Round 1)
    Supported by The Education Studio, the ISP grant program is focused on creativity and innovation in higher education. It targets students and their learning, teaching practices, curriculum design and the development of effective learning environments.
    More info & application
  • Extension Grants: Closing date 2 April 2015 (Round 1)
    Support the continued dissemination and embedding of completed learning and teaching projects previously funded by a Learning and Teaching grant or as a Faculty Partnership Program project.
    More info & application

NSW Trade & Investment: Science and Engineering Student Competition Sponsorship Program

NSW Trade and Investment offers grant funding for students under a new Science and Engineering Student Competition Sponsorship Program. It provides research support for university students who are attending domestic and international competitions, in the fields of:

  • – Mathematical, information and computing science;
  • – Physical, chemical and earth sciences;
  • – Engineering, environmental science and renewable energy;
  • – Biological sciences.

As it is a new program, the amount of support per application is yet to be determined however the total funding pool is $100,000. Applicants must be enrolled in a tertiary institution in NSW.

Applications are designed to be submitted by the student group/team leader directly to the funding body, however we recommend the student team leader speaks with a relevant supervisor or Head of Department or appropriate local delegate (such as a research officer) about the application before submission. We also ask for a copy of the application to be forwarded to a week before the closing date.

The closing date is 5pm Friday 10 April 2015.

Further information, guidelines and an application form are online at

Grant Success

Congratulations to Michelle Leishman who won a grant from the NSW Environmental Trust for research on the ecological impact of myrtle rust on native vegetation.

Marine Fieldwork in April

Could you please have all request for Marine fieldwork between 5th to 18th April to Andrew Irivine by the 30th of March.

Ally Network Training

This session will be facilitated by a staff member from Pride in Diversity – Australia’s first NGO which advices businesses and organizations on how to be more GLBTIQ inclusive in their practices. Ally Network training is designed to offer attendees an understanding of the difference between Sex, Gender and Sexual Orientation, and empower people to stand up as champions against homophobia and transphobia in their communities.

As the training session is most effective with a smaller group size, attendance is limited, so there is a first in – first served policy for RSVPs.

  • Wednesday 20th May
  • Thursday 6th August (Arrival from 9am for training 9:15-1:00)
  • MANLY ROOM on level 4, Building C5C.

RSVP: Jon Papadopoulo <>

Academic Procession April 9

We are graduating the biologists on April 9, Kathy Belov is the occasional speaker. Please register here to join the procession:

Seminar: Are you ready to raise your research profile with Australia’s AEKOS?

Presented by: Dr Anita Smith, University of Adelaide

Thursday, 26 March 1-2:30pm, Biology Tearoom (E8A 280)

Synopsis: Many researchers are publishing and reusing high quality, well-described ecological data online. This seminar is to introduce researchers to TERN’s Eco-informatics data publishing and accessing services. These are designed to help Australian researchers to publish and reuse their data, just like paper publications. Importantly, you will learn ways to cite your data to increase impact and its visibility to other researchers. For those without data to publish, you will learn how to search this important repository of ecological and environmental data and how to access and utilise data from across the nation via a single point of access.

For more information please contact Dr Linda Beaumont (

Statistics Departmental Seminar, Tuesday 24th March, 2-3 PM, E4A 523

The PD-calculus: integrating evolutionary relationships into biodiversity measurement and conservation

David Nipperess, Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University

Phylogenetic Diversity (PD) is a measure of biodiversity that takes into account the evolutionary relationships of organisms. Because phylogeny is the fundamental basis for measuring the distinctness of organisms, PD captures information on variety in form and function. The measurement of PD is simple in conception: for a given assemblage, PD is equal to the sum of the branch lengths that connect that set of organisms on a phylogenetic tree. Unlike traditional measures of biodiversity, PD is robust to uncertainty about species identity because the tips of the tree can represent unique sequences, individual organisms, populations or species. Information on branch length ensures that only discrete entities are counted and that the degree to which they are unique is incorporated directly into the measurement of diversity, without the need for arbitrarily defined Operational Taxonomic Units. This attribute is particularly valuable in situations where species boundaries are uncertain (such as in microbial communities), where many species are undescribed, or where environmental genomic samples are homogenised ‘soups’ of organisms. In recent years, PD has been mathematically extended to allow the measurement of both alpha and beta-diversity, to incorporate information on abundance, and to correct for differences in sample size. In this presentation, I will discuss the conceptual and mathematical basis of the ‘PD-calculus’, as this emerging body of methods is known, and demonstrate applications in biodiversity and conservation science.

Jobs – Post-doc


A postdoctoral position is now available to work on the ecological drivers of dispersal in amphibians (e.g., behavior, metabolism, body size), especially in relation to restored habitats. The position will be jointly supervised by Dr. John Crawford ( and Dr. Anthony Dell ( and will be based at the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC; NGRREC is a state-of-the-art research and education facility located in Illinois on the banks of the Mississippi River approximately 30 minutes from downtown St. Louis. It is anticipated that this research position will involve several components of: 1) mechanistic theory; 2) laboratory experiments; 3) field mesocosm experiments; and 4) field monitoring. In addition, the project will make use of emerging automated tracking methods (see Dell et al. 2014, TREE 29:417-428).

An ideal candidate for this position will have strong quantitative skills, experience with laboratory and/or field experiments (and associated statistical analyses) and a background in dispersal and/or behavioral ecology. Experience with automated tracking software and/or amphibian ecology is advantageous, but not required. Competitive candidates will also have an excellent publication record (commensurate with experience), strong interests in developing their own research questions (within the broad interests of the Crawford and Dell labs), the ability to work independently and in collaborative groups, and excellent verbal and written communication skills. A Ph.D. in ecology or related discipline is required by the start date.

This is an annual position for up to two years, with the second year dependent on satisfactory performance in the first year. Additional funding may become available after two years, with the candidate helping to secure such funds. Salary will be $40,000-$43,000 per year (commensurate with experience), in addition to full-time benefits. To apply, send an email with the subject line “NGRREC Dispersal Postdoc” to both and with a single pdf that includes: 1) a cover letter including an introduction and statement of relevant research experience and interests; 2) a CV; and 3) the names and contact information for three professional references. Applicants should also attach up to 3 relevant publications. The position is open to U.S. and non-U.S. citizens. Start date is flexible, but would ideally be on or near September 1, 2015. Review of applications will begin April 3, 2015 and continue until the position is filled. Address any questions to both and

New MQ website

You have probably all noticed the new website. Here is some more info about the process and progress:

The Gender Avenger & NHMRC gender policty

Here is a great little ap:

And here the NHMRC policy: 

More Media Training

University’s Foundations of Media Engagement seminars – our next one is April 28 and you can enrol and find out more via HR Online.

Rotifers on Liverworts

 A colleague of Alison Downing Des Callaghan, sent this entertaining video. He commented:

I was about to photograph the lovely little liverwort Harpalejeunea molleri and noticed that >50% of the lobules were occupied by rotifers. I managed to make a short video of them in action. The final scene is amusing, with the same non-food item being caught and rejected by the rotifer in a never ending circle:

Looking for Job

I have recently (last week) submitted my PhD thesis for assessment through the University of Tasmania. I am looking for some casual work while I apply for postdoc positions. I am interested in any work, whether it is in a glasshouse, doing fieldwork, demonstrating or doing work in a Lab. I am available almost any day, am very easy to get along with, and I am very organised and practical.

Contact: Adam McKiernan”

New Publications

How do native species respond to invaders? Mechanistic and trait-based perspectives

Berthon K, 2015. How do native species respond to invaders? Mechanistic and trait-based perspectives. Biological Invasions:1-13. doi: 10.1007/s10530-015-0874-7. | Find with Google Scholar »

Conserving coral reef organisms that lack larval dispersal:are networks of Marine Protected Areas good enough?

Momigliano P, Harcourt R, Stow A, 2015. Conserving coral reef organisms that lack larval dispersal:are networks of Marine Protected Areas good enough? Frontiers in Marine Science 2. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2015.00016. | Find with Google Scholar »

A test of an optimal stomatal conductance scheme within the CABLE land surface model

De Kauwe MG, Kala J, Lin YS, Pitman AJ, Medlyn BE, Duursma RA, Abramowitz G, Wang YP, Miralles DG, 2015. A test of an optimal stomatal conductance scheme within the CABLE land surface model. Geosci Model Dev 8:431-452. doi: 10.5194/gmd-8-431-2015. | Find with Google Scholar »

Optimal stomatal behaviour around the world

Lin, Y.-S., B.E. Medlyn, R.A. Duursma, I.C. Prentice, H. Wang, S. Baig, D. Eamus, V.R. de Dios, P. Mitchell, D.S. Ellsworth, M.O. de Beeck, G. Wallin, J. Uddling, L. Tarvainen, M.-L. Linderson, L.A. Cernusak, J.B. Nippert, T.W. Ocheltree, D.T. Tissue, N.K. Martin-StPaul, A. Rogers, J.M. Warren, P. De Angelis, K. Hikosaka, Q. Han, Y. Onoda, T.E. Gimeno, C.V.M. Barton, J. Bennie, D. Bonal, A. Bosc, M. Low, C. Macinins-Ng, A. Rey, L. Rowland, S.A. Setterfield, S. Tausz-Posch, J. Zaragoza-Castells, M.S.J. Broadmeadow, J.E. Drake, M. Freeman, O. Ghannoum, L.B. Hutley, J.W. Kelly, K. Kikuzawa, P. Kolari, K. Koyama, J.-M. Limousin, P. Meir, A.C. Lola da Costa, T.N. Mikkelsen, N. Salinas, W. Sun and L. Wingate. 2015. Optimal stomatal behaviour around the world. Nature Climate Change. doi:10.1038/nclimate2550 | Find with Google Scholar »

DNA Metabarcoding Meets Experimental Ecotoxicology: Advancing Knowledge on the Ecological Effects of Copper in Freshwater Ecosystems

Gardham S, Hose GC, Stephenson S, Chariton AA, 2014. DNA Metabarcoding Meets Experimental Ecotoxicology: Advancing Knowledge on the Ecological Effects of Copper in Freshwater Ecosystems. Advances in Ecological Research, Vol 51: Big Data in Ecology 51:79-104. doi: 10.1016/b978-0-08-099970-8.00007-5 | Find with Google Scholar »

The Mothematics of Female Pheromone Signaling: Strategies for Aging Virgins

Umbers KDL, Symonds MRE, Kokko H, 2015. The Mothematics of Female Pheromone Signaling: Strategies for Aging Virgins. American Naturalist 185:417-432. doi: 10.1086/679614. | Find with Google Scholar »

In the Media

Plants use water wisely

Biologist Yan-Shih Lin has recently published research in Nature Climate Change on how plants trade water wisely and have adapted their water use strategy to their environment.

Read more about it here.

Credit: Flickr/ Francesca Cappa

Austral Ark – new book on the state of wildlife in Australia & NZ

Biologist Adam Stow published his edited book on the history, features and state of the  Austral fauna.

Read more »

How to convert your pool into a pond

Biologist Mike Gillings talks with the ABC about the benefits of converting your backyard pool into a pond.



The next generation of antibiotics might be right under our feet

Biologist and Emeritus Professor, Andy Beattie talks about the discovery potential of soil microbes for antibiotics in The Conversation 

Read more »

World Sparrow Day

Biologist Simon Griffith explains why we should celebrate World Sparrow Day in the Conversation


Recent Completions

PhD – Siobhan Dennison: Social organisation and population genetics of the threatened great desert skink, Liopholis kintorei

Supervised by Adam Stow

PhD – Yasmin Haeger: Modelling the distribution of Australian shrublands and shrub species: the role of climate and soil properties

Supervised by Linda Beaumont and Sandy Harrison