Craig Moritz

School Director

Craig did his undergraduate at University of Melbourne (1976-1979), where he developed his passion for evolutionary biology. For his PhD at ANU (1980-1985), he studied chromosome evolution and speciation in arid zone lizards, along the way discovering all-female reproduction in Heteronotia binoei. Then he moved across the Pacific Ocean for a postdoc at University of Michigan (1985-1988; mitochondrial DNA and evolution of parthenogenesis), before returning to a faculty position at The University of Queensland (1988-2000), including a stint as Head of School. From 2000-2012 he was Director of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at UC Berkeley. From mid 2012 he happily settled at EEG/RSB as a Professor and ARC Laureate Fellow. Craig is also the Director of the joint ANU-CSIRO Centre for Biodiversity Analysis.

Research interests

Biodiversity discovery & conservation

The majority of species remain to be discovered, yet habitats are being lost of affected by global change at an ever increasing rate. New tools from genomics, phylogenetics and spatial environmental analysis are revolutionizing our ability to discover diversity and map hotspots of unique species- or phylo-diversity. Building on previous studies of rainforests in eastern Australia and Brazil, and in California, our lab is now turning its attention to the monsoonal tropics of Australia - perhaps the largest ecologically intact tropical savanna on the planet, and also a frontier for biodiversity discovery.

Biogeography and speciation
How new species form through a combination of selection, drift and isolation is intimately connected with the dynamics of the habitats they occupy in time and space. Our lab seeks to understand this dynamic at multiple scales, from populations and phylogographic lineages to entire clades, often using a comparative approach in particular biogeographic regions (eg. The Australian Wet Tropics Rainforests), and all in the context of current and paleo-environments. As a continental-scale island with a largely endemic biota, Australia provides an excellent opportunity for such studies.

Biological responses to climate change
Though existing species have persisted through multiple episodes of climate change in the past, we are entering a new phase of rapid, human-caused climate change with no analogue in the recent geological past. Understanding how species respond by migration or adaptation is key to finding strategies to promote persistence of biodiversity. Our lab studies this through a combination of comparative studies of phenotypic and genomic diversity in across environments in space and time. One potential solution is to identify long-term climatic refugia across the landscape - also likely centers of local diversity - and seek to protect these and habitat linkages to them. We also are using a combination of population genomics and data on trait and environments to test whether peripheral isolates of rainforest lizards are better adapted to climate fluctuation than populations in core rainforests.


  • Rosauer, D, Byrne, M, Blom, M et al 2018, 'Real-world conservation planning for evolutionary diversity in the Kimberley, Australia, sidesteps uncertain taxonomy', Conservation Letters, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. e12438.
  • Doughty, P, Bourke, G, Goncalves Tedeschi, L et al 2018, 'Species delimitation in the Gehyra nana (Squamata: Gekkonidae) complex: Cryptic and divergent morphological evolution in the Australian Monsoonal Tropics, with the description of four new species', Zootaxa, vol. 4403, no. 2, pp. 201-244pp.
  • Moritz, C, Pratt, R, Bank, S et al 2018, 'Cryptic lineage diversity, body size divergence, and sympatry in a species complex of Australian lizards (Gehyra)', Evolution, vol. 72, no. 1, pp. 54-66.
  • Doughty, P, Bourke, G, Goncalves Tedeschi, L et al 2018, 'Species delimitation in the Gehyra nana (Squamata: Gekkonidae) complex: Cryptic and divergent morphological evolution in the Australian Monsoonal Tropics, with the description of four new species', Zootaxa, vol. 4403, no. 2, pp. 201-244pp.
  • Potter, S, Xue, A, Bragg, J et al 2018, 'Pleistocene climatic changes drive diversification across a tropical savanna', Molecular Ecology, vol. 27, no. 2, pp. 520-532.
  • Bragg, J, Potter, S, Silva, A et al 2018, 'Phylogenomics of a rapid radiation: The Australian rainbow skinks', BMC Evolutionary Biology, vol. 18, no. 15, pp. 12pp.
  • Costa, G, Hampe, A, Ledru, M et al 2018, 'Biome stability in South America over the last 30 kyr: Inferences from long-term vegetation dynamics and habitat modelling', Global Ecology and Biogeography, vol. 27, no. 3, pp. 285-297pp.
  • De Mello Martins, F, Kruuk, L, Llewelyn, J et al 2018, 'Heritability of climate-relevant traits in a rainforest skink', Heredity, vol. 122, pp. 41-52.
  • Duchene, D, Bragg, J, Duchene, S et al 2018, 'Analysis of phylogenomic tree space resolves relationships among marsupial families', Systematic Biology, vol. 67, no. 3, pp. 400-412pp.
  • Llewelyn, J, Macdonald, S, Moritz, C et al 2018, 'Adjusting to climate: Acclimation, adaptation and developmental plasticity in physiological traits of a tropical rainforest lizard', Integrative Zoology Online, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 411-427.
  • Bragg, J, Potter, S, Bi, K et al 2017, 'Resources for phylogenomic analyses of Australian terrestrial vertebrates', Molecular Ecology Resources, vol. 17, pp. 869-876pp.
  • Maher, S, Morelli, T, Hershey, M et al 2017, 'Erosion of refugia in the Sierra Nevada meadows network with climate change', Ecosphere, vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 1-17pp.
  • von May, R, Catenazzi, A, Corl, A et al 2017, 'Divergence of thermal physiological traits in terrestrial breeding frogs along a tropical elevational gradient', Ecology and Evolution, vol. 7, no. 9, pp. 3257-3267.
  • Penalba, J, Mason, I, Schodde, R et al 2017, 'Characterizing divergence through three adjacent Australian avian transition zones', Journal of Biogeography, vol. Online, pp. 1-12.
  • Phuong, M, Bi, K & Moritz, C 2017, 'Range instability leads to cytonuclear discordance in a morphologically cryptic ground squirrel species complex', Molecular Ecology, vol. 26, no. 18, pp. 4743-4755.
  • Macdonald, S, Llewelyn, J, Moritz, C et al 2017, 'Peripheral isolates as sources of adaptive diversity under climate change', Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, vol. 5, no. 88, pp. 1-10.
  • Silva, A, Santos, N, Ogilvie, H et al 2017, 'Validation and description of two new north-western Australian rainbow skinks with multispecies coalescent methods and morphology', PeerJ, pp. 1-26pp.
  • Bragg, J, Potter, S, Bi, K et al 2017, 'Resources for phylogenomic analyses of Australian terrestrial vertebrates', Molecular Ecology Resources, vol. 17, no. 5, pp. 869-876.
  • Llewelyn, J, Macdonald, S, Hatcher, A et al 2017, 'Thermoregulatory behaviour explains countergradient variation in the upper thermal limit of a rainforest skink', Oikos, vol. 126, no. 5, pp. 748-757pp.
  • Potter, S, Bragg, J, Blom, M et al 2017, 'Chromosomal speciation in the genomics era: Disentangling phylogenetic evolution of rock-wallabies', Frontiers in Genetics, vol. 8, no. 10, pp. 10-10.
  • Bourke, G, Pratt, R, Vanderduys, E et al 2017, 'Systematics of a small Gehyra (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from the Einasleigh Uplands, Queensland: Description of a new range restricted species', Zootaxa, vol. 4231, no. 1, pp. 85-99pp.
  • Oliver, P, Laver, R, De Mello Martins, F et al 2017, 'A novel hotspot of vertebrate endemism and an evolutionary refugium in tropical Australia', Diversity and Distributions, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 53-66pp.
  • Blom, M, Bragg, J, Potter, S et al 2017, 'Accounting for uncertainty in gene tree estimation: Summary-coalescent species tree inference in a challenging radiation of Australian lizards', Systematic Biology, vol. 66, no. 3, pp. 352-366.
  • Silva, A, Bragg, J, Potter, S et al 2017, 'Tropical specialist vs. climate generalist: Diversification and demographic history of sister species of Carlia skinks from northwestern Australia', Molecular Ecology, vol. 26, no. 15, pp. 4045-4058.
  • Carvalho, S, Velo-Anton, G, Tarroso, P et al 2017, 'Spatial conservation prioritization of biodiversity spanning the evolutionary continuum', Nature Ecology & Evolution, vol. Published online: 28 April 2017 Volume 1, pp. 1-8pp.
  • Munoz, M, Langham, G, Brandley, M et al 2016, 'Basking behavior predicts the evolution of heat tolerance in Australian rainforest lizards', Evolution, vol. 70, no. 11, pp. 2537-2549.
  • Ens, E, Scott, M, Rangers, Y et al 2016, 'Putting indigenous conservation policy into practice delivers biodiversity and cultural benefits', Biodiversity and Conservation, vol. 25, no. 14, pp. 2889-2906.
  • Munoz, M & Moritz, C 2016, 'Adaptation to a changing world: Evolutionary resilience to climate change', in Jonathan B. Losos & Richard E. Lenski (ed.), How Evolution Shapes Our Lives: Essays on Biology and Society, Princeton University Press, USA, pp. 238-252pp.
  • Edwards, S, Potter, S, Schmitt, C et al 2016, 'Reticulation, divergence, and the phylogeography-phylogenetics continuum', 2016 Arthur M. Sackler Colloquia of the National Academy of Sciences, "In the Light of Evolution X: Comparative Phylogeography", National Academy of Sciences, Washington DC, United States, pp. 8025-8032.
  • La Salle, J, Williams, K & Moritz, C 2016, 'Biodiversity analysis in the digital era', Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B, vol. 371, no. 1702, pp. 20150337-20150337.
  • Llewelyn, J, Macdonald, S, Hatcher, A et al 2016, 'Intraspecific variation in climate-relevant traits in a tropical rainforest lizard', Diversity and Distributions, vol. 22, no. 10, pp. 1000-1012.
  • Rosauer, D, Blom, M, Bourke, G et al 2016, 'Phylogeography, hotspots and conservation priorities: An example from the Top End of Australia', Biological Conservation, vol. 204, pp. 83-93pp.
  • Blom, M, Horner, P & Moritz, C 2016, 'Convergence across a continent: adaptive diversification in a recent radiation of Australian lizards', Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences, vol. 283, no. 1832, pp. 20160181-20160181.
  • Moritz, C, Fujita, M, Rosauer, D et al 2016, 'Multilocus phylogeography reveals nested endemism in a gecko across the monsoonal tropics of Australia', Molecular Ecology, vol. 25, no. 6, pp. 1354-1366.
  • Potter, S, Bragg, J, Peter, B et al 2016, 'Phylogenomics at the tips: Inferring lineages and their demographic history in a tropical lizard, Carlia amax', Molecular Ecology, vol. 25, no. 6, pp. 1367-1380.
  • Phillips, B, Munoz, M, Hatcher, A et al 2016, 'Heat hardening in a tropical lizard: geographic variation explained by the predictability and variance in environmental temperatures', Functional Ecology, vol. 30, no. 7, pp. 1161-1168.
  • Oliver, P, Bourke, G, Pratt, R et al 2016, 'Systematics of small Gehyra (Squamata: Gekkonidae) of the southern Kimberley, Western Australia: Redescription of G. kimberleyi Borner & Schuttler, 1983 and description of a new restricted range species', Zootaxa, vol. 4107, no. 1, pp. 49-64.
  • Tonione, M, Fisher, R, Zhu, C et al 2016, 'Deep divergence and structure in the Tropical Oceanic Pacific: a multilocus phylogeography of a widespread gekkonid lizard (Squamata: Gekkonidae: Gehyra oceanica)', Journal of Biogeography, vol. 43, no. 2, pp. 268-278pp.
  • Bragg, J, Potter, S, Bi, K et al 2016, 'Exon capture phylogenomics: efficacy across scales of divergence', Molecular Ecology Resources, vol. 16, no. 5, pp. 1059-1068.
  • Santos, M, Thorne, J & Moritz, C 2015, 'Synchronicity in elevation range shifts among small mammals and vegetation over the last century is stronger for omnivores', Ecography, vol. 38, no. 6, pp. 556-568.
  • Rowe, K, Rowe, K, Tingley, M et al 2015, 'Spatially heterogeneous impact of climate change on small mammals of montane California', Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences, vol. 282, no. 1799, pp. 1-10.
  • Rosauer, D, Catullo, R, VanDerWal, J et al 2015, 'Lineage Range Estimation Method Reveals Fine-Scale Endemism Linked to Pleistocene Stability in Australian Rainforest Herpetofauna', PLOS ONE (Public Library of Science), vol. 10, no. 5, pp. e0126274-e0126274.
  • Brandley, M, Bragg, J, Singhal, S et al 2015, 'Evaluating the performance of anchored hybrid enrichment at the tips of the tree of life: a phylogenetic analysis of Australian Eugongylus group scincid lizards', BMC Evolutionary Biology, vol. 15, no. 62, pp. 1-14.
  • Laity, T, Laffan, S, Gonzalez-Orozco, C et al 2015, 'Phylodiversity to inform conservation policy: An Australian example', Science of the Total Environment, vol. 534, pp. 131-143.
  • Moreau, C, Hugall, A, McDonald, K et al 2015, 'An ancient divide in a contiguous rainforest: Endemic earthworms in the australian wet tropics', PLOS ONE (Public Library of Science), vol. 10, no. 9, pp. -.
  • Potter, S, Moritz, C & Eldridge, M 2015, 'Gene flow despite complex Robertsonian fusions among rock-wallaby (Petrogale) species', Biology Letters, vol. 11, no. 10.
  • Damasceno, R, Strangas, M, Carnaval, A et al 2014, 'Revisiting the vanishing refuge model of diversification', Frontiers in Genetics, vol. 5, pp. 353-353.
  • Oliver, P, Keogh, S & Moritz, C 2014, 'New approaches to cataloguing and understanding evolutionary diversity: a perspective from Australian herpetology', Australian Journal of Zoology, vol. 62, no. 6, pp. 417-430.
  • Phuong, M, Lim, M, Wait, D et al 2014, 'Delimiting species in the genus Otospermophilus (Rodentia: Sciuridae), using genetics, ecology, and morphology', Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, vol. 113, no. 4, pp. 1136-1151.
  • Phillips, B, Llewelyn, J, Hatcher, A et al 2014, 'Do evolutionary constraints on thermal performance manifest at different organizational scales?', Journal of Evolutionary Biology, vol. 27, no. 12, pp. 2687-2694.
  • Graham, C, Carnaval, A, Cadena, C et al 2014, 'The origin and maintenance of montane diversity: integrating evolutionary and ecological processes', Ecography, vol. 37, no. 8, pp. 711-719.
  • Brennan, A, Woodward, G, Seehausen, O et al 2014, 'Hybridization due to changing species distributions: adding problems or solutions to conservation of biodiversity during global change?', Evolutionary Ecology Research, vol. 16, no. 6, pp. 475-491.
  • Rubidge, E, Patton, J & Moritz, C 2014, 'Diversification of the Alpine Chipmunk, Tamias alpinus, an alpine endemic of the Sierra Nevada, California', BMC Evolutionary Biology, vol. 14, no. 34, pp. 1-15.
  • Fordham, D, Brook, B, Moritz, C et al 2014, 'Better forecasts of range dynamics using genetic data', Trends in Ecology and Evolution, vol. 29, no. 8, pp. 436-443.
  • Rocha, L, Aleixo, A, Allen, G et al 2014, 'Specimen collection: An essential tool', Science, vol. 344, no. 6186, pp. 814-815.
  • Carnaval, A, Waltari, E, Rodrigues, M et al 2014, 'Prediction of phylogeographic endemism in an environmentally complex biome', Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences, vol. 281, no. 1792, pp. 20141461-20141461.
  • Penalba, J, Smith, L, Tonione, M et al 2014, 'Sequence capture using PCR-generated probes: A cost-effective method of targeted high-throughput sequencing for nonmodel organisms', Molecular Ecology Resources, vol. 14, no. 5, pp. 1000-1010.
  • Devitt, T, Cameron Devitt, S, Hollingsworth, B et al 2013, 'Montane refugia predict population genetic structure in the Large-blotched Ensatina salamander', Molecular Ecology, vol. 22, no. 6, pp. 1650-1665.
  • Conroy, C, Rowe, K, Rowe, K et al 2013, 'Cryptic genetic diversity in Rattus of the San Francisco Bay region, California', Biological Invasions, vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 741-758.
  • Moritz, C & Agudo, R 2013, 'The Future of Species Under Climate Change: Resilience or Decline?', Science, vol. 341, no. 6145, pp. 504-508.
  • Reside, A, VanDerWal, J, Phillips, B et al 2013, Climate change refugia for terrestrial biodiversity, James Cook University, Australia.
  • Pepper, M, Doughty, P, Fujita, M et al 2013, 'Speciation on the Rocks: Integrated Systematics of the Heteronotia spelea Species Complex (Gekkota; Reptilia) from Western and Central Australia', PLOS ONE (Public Library of Science), vol. 8, no. 11, pp. e78110-e78110.
  • Losos, J, Arnold, S, Bejerano, G et al 2013, 'Evolutionary Biology for the 21st Century', PLoS Biology, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. e1001466-e1001466.
  • Singhal, S & Moritz, C 2013, 'Reproductive isolation between phylogeographic lineages scales with divergence', Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences, vol. 280, no. 1772, pp. 20132246-20132246.
  • Bi, K, Linderoth, T, Vanderpool, D et al 2013, 'Unlocking the vault: Next-generation museum population genomics', Molecular Ecology, vol. 22, no. 24, pp. 6018-6032.
  • Moritz, C & Potter, S 2013, 'The importance of an evolutionary perspective in conservation policy planning', Molecular Ecology, vol. 22, no. 24, pp. 5969-5971.
  • Smith, A, Santos, M, Koo, M et al 2013, 'Evaluation of species distribution models by resampling of sites surveyed a century ago by Joseph Grinnell', Ecography, vol. 36, no. 9, pp. 1017-1031.
  • Moritz, C, Ens, E, Potter, S et al 2013, 'The Australian monsoonal tropics an opportunity to protect unique biodiversity and secure benefits for Aboriginal communities', Pacific Conservation Biology, vol. 19, no. 3-4, pp. 343-355.
  • Fujita, M, Leache, A, Burbrink, F et al 2012, 'Coalescent-based species delimitation in an integrative taxonomy', Trends in Ecology and Evolution, vol. 27, no. 9, pp. 480-488.
  • Singhal, S & Moritz, C 2012, 'Strong selection against hybrids maintains a narrow contact zone between morphologically cryptic lineages in a rainforest lizard', Evolution, vol. 66, no. 5, pp. 1474-1489.
  • Oza, A, Lovett, K, Williams, S et al 2012, 'Recent speciation and limited phylogeographic structure in Mixophyes frogs from the Australian Wet Tropics', Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, vol. 62, no. 1, pp. 407-413.
  • Fouquet, A, Recoder, R, Teixeira, M et al 2012, 'Molecular phylogeny and morphometric analyses reveal deep divergence between Amazonia and Atlantic Forest species of Dendrophryniscus', Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, vol. 62, no. 3, pp. 826-838.
  • Cadena, C, Kozak, K, Gomez, J et al 2012, 'Latitude, elevational climatic zonation and speciation in New World vertebrates', Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences, vol. 279, no. 1726, pp. 194-201.
  • Bi, K, Vanderpool, D, Singhal, S et al 2012, 'Transcriptome-based exon capture enables highly cost-effective comparative genomic data collection at moderate evolutionary scales', BMC Genomics, vol. 13, no. 403, pp. 1-14.
  • Bell, R, MacKenzie, J, Hickerson, M et al 2012, 'Comparative multi-locus phylogeography confirms multiple vicariance events in co-distributed rainforest frogs', Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences, vol. 279, no. 1730, pp. 991-999.
  • Moritz, C, Langham, G, Kearney, M et al 2012, 'Integrating phylogeography and physiology reveals divergence of thermal traits between central and peripheral lineages of tropical rainforest lizards', Philosophical Transaction of the Royal Society: B- Biological Sciences, vol. 367, no. 1596, pp. 1680-1687.
  • Stock, M, Ustinova, J, Betto-Colliard, C et al 2012, 'Simultaneous Mendelian and clonal genome transmission in a sexually reproducing, all-triploid vertebrate', Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences, vol. 279, no. 1732, pp. 1293-1299.
  • Singhal, S & Moritz, C 2012, 'Testing hypotheses for genealogical discordance in a rainforest lizard', Molecular Ecology, vol. 21, no. 20, pp. 5059-5072.
  • Eastman, L, Morelli, T, Rowe, K et al 2012, 'Size increase in high elevation ground squirrels over the last century', Global Change Biology, vol. 18, no. 5, pp. 1499-1508.
  • Morelli, T, Smith, A, Kastely, C et al 2012, 'Anthropogenic refugia ameliorate the severe climate-related decline of a montane mammal along its trailing edge', Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences, vol. 279, no. 1745, pp. 4279-4286.
  • Tingley, M, Koo, M, Moritz, C et al 2012, 'The push and pull of climate change causes heterogeneous shifts in avian elevational ranges', Global Change Biology, vol. 18, no. 11, pp. 3279-3290.
  • Rubidge, E, Patton, J, Lim, M et al 2012, 'Climate-induced range contraction drives genetic erosion in an alpine mammal', Nature Climate Change, vol. 2, no. 4, pp. 285-288.
  • Roberts, J, Vo, H, Fujita, M et al 2012, 'Physiological implications of genomic state in parthenogenetic lizards of reciprocal hybrid origin', Journal of Evolutionary Biology, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 252-263.

I welcome bright and highly motivated students with interests relating broadly to any of the above areas. Students are expected to take the initiative to develop their own projects and, over time, to learn to function independently as research scientists. The lab will include research opportunities for outstanding undergraduates, Hons, PhD and postdoctoral scholars.

Within currently funded projects, there are specific opportunities for micro- and macro-evolutionary studies of fauna (especially, but not exclusively lizards) across the monsoonal tropics of northern Australia.