New Windows into the history and diversity of the Australian Biota
17th March 2017
Speaker: Dr Paul Oliver
Location: 11:30 am to 12:30 pm in Building 6, Level C, Room 12
The biota of Australia and surrounding islands is famously diverse and unique. But what historical processes underpin this? Combinations of climatic perturbation, long-term aridification and isolation have long been invoked as the prime explanations. Emerging techniques and increasingly large phylogenies provide new opportunities to investigate the relative roles of these processes with greater statistical rigour than ever before. However, at the same time our baseline biodiversity inventory still remains surprisingly incomplete for many groups and areas, a deficiency that has ongoing implications for both pure and applied sciences.
The incredible diversity of life is, in my opinion, by far the most interesting about planet earth. Consequently, my scientific research centres around using empirical datasets (especially phylogenies), to better understand the past, present and future of biodiversity, with a particular focus on the exceptionally diverse herpetofauna of the Australasian region. I did my PhD and Honours at the University of Adelaide (under Mike Lee and Steve Cooper), working on the systematics and biogeography of a diverse and relatively ancient Australian lizard radiation. Subsequently I did a three year postdoc at the University of Melbourne, and I am now on a DECRA fellowship based at the ANU. I am currently working on numerous projects focused around the intersecting fields of biodiversity discovery, biogeography, macroevolution and conservation.