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The Australian National University

Division of Evolution, Ecology and Genetics - research strengths

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Behavioural, evolutionary and physiological ecology

Ecologists often begin by asking how interactions between individual and the environment result in differential survival & reproductive output of organisms depending on their size, age, sex & which traits they possess. These can result in predictable changes in population size and composition that, at broader scales, generates variation in gene flow among populations and differences in species ranges. Natural selection operates whenever there is variation in reproductive output because organisms differ in their ‘fit’ with the environment. Evolutionary change feeds back to affect future ecological interactions. Research at ANU covers all aspects of the ecology-evolution cycle. Our key research strengths include: ecophysiology of plants and mammals; behavioural ecology of crabs, birds, insects, reptiles & fish; sensory ecology of crabs & insects; functional ecology of fish & plants; evolutionary genetics of microbes, fungi and reptiles; and the epigenetics of bees. We also have a strong international reputation for developing theory in evolution & ecology that transcends specific study taxa.

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Evolutionary genetics and genomics

New methods in genetics and genomics have allowed a rapid expansion of research into the basis of variations in phenotype, development and the epigenetic variations induced by diet and other lifetime experiences. Genetics research in the Division spans plants and animals and model and non-model organisms. We have a strong reputation in epigenetics, chromosome evolution, developmental biology and in plant-animal interactions and are well equipped in large scale sequencing facilities.

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Phylogenetics, population genetics and biodiversity

Molecular genetics forms the basis for much of what we do in this research area.  Our work spans the continuum of population genetics and phylogenetics of bacteria, fungi, plants and animals.  Our researchers are at the forefront of new methods in molecular ecology, population genetic analysis and molecular evolution.  The results of our work are used to better understand biogeographic history, macroevolutionary patterns, evolution of traits and to inform conservation.   

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