Primary research interest

  • Helminth parasites of wildlife

Researcher biography

My research focuses on helminths parasitic in Australian animals. Within this large field I focus on one major group of parasites, the trematodes, and one major group of hosts, the teleost fishes.

The work has two major themes: diversity and evolution. The first part of my work relates to the task of describing the fauna of Australian trematodes, especially in marine fishes where this group is at its most diverse. This work involves the systematic sampling of Australian fishes for their trematodes. The work ramifies into many areas - taxonomy, systematics, life-cycles, ecology and biogeography. My work is assuming an increasingly international flavour as, with British and French colleagues, I am exploring patterns of parasite diversity across the tropical Indo-Pacific.

I am presently completing one major study that examined a single trematode family, the Gyliauchenidae, across its geographical and host range in the Indo-Pacific. A new study examines all the parasites in butterflyfishes in the Indo-Pacific. Always I seek first to document the parasites present in the system and then to explain their presence through understanding of the interaction between host and parasite life-cycles, ecology, phylogeny and biogeography.

Taxonomic studies of trematodes have created an excellent knowledge base for studies on the evolution of trematodes. This area is still poorly understood and one into which I am presently expanding. I collaborate strongly with a group based at the Natural History Museum (London) (Littlewood & Bray). Our goal is to determine the relationships of trematodes with a view to exploring issues of their evolution. Specifically we are exploring the chronology of evolution, patterns of the adoption of different groups of hosts, and evolution of morphological and life-cycle characters within the Trematoda.

Areas of research