Michael Crisp

Emeritus Professor
Ecology and Evolution

Mike Crisp studied long-term change in arid zone vegetation for his PhD at the University of Adelaide and graduated in 1976.  From 1975-1989, he was a research scientist and herbarium curator at the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra. He was posted as the Australian Botanical Liaison Officer at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, in 1981-2. In 1990 he took up a lectureship in plant systematics in the Division of Botany and Zoology at The Australian National University, where he became head of school in 2001-3 and Professor from 2004.  

Research interests

  • Phylogenetics and classification of Australian plants
  • Reconstructing the origins and evolutionary diversification of flora
  • Biogeography and large-scale community assembly.

Recent grants

  • ARC Discovery Grant: Crisp, M.D., Cook, L.G.; 2013-2016; $350,000; Evolution of Australiaʼs globally unique hotspot of floral diversity.
  • ARC Discovery Grant: Crisp, M.D., Cook, L.G.; 2009-2011; $280,000; Distinguishing among patterns of extinction and speciation through geological and climatic change: a molecular phylogenetic approach.
  • ARC Discovery Grant: Crisp, M.D.; 2006-2008; $295,000; Australia's monsoon tropical flora: invader or relict?
  • ARC Network Scheme: Westoby, M.; 2004-2009; $2.5 million; Australia-New Zealand Vegetation Function Network.

Selected publications

  • Toon, A., Cook, L. G., Crisp, M. D. 2014. Evolutionary consequences of shifts to bird-pollination in the Australian pea-flowered legumes (Fabaceae: Mirbelieae and Bossiaeeae). BMC Evolutionary Biology 14:1-11.
  • Crisp, M. D. and Cook L. G. 2013. How was the Australian flora assembled over the last 65 million years? A molecular phylogenetic perspective. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 44:303-324.
  • Sakaguchi, S., Bowman, D. M. J. S., Prior, L. D., Crisp, M. D., Linde, C. C., Tsumura, Y., Isagi, Y. 2013. Climate, not Aboriginal landscape burning, controlled the historical demography and distribution of fire-sensitive conifer populations across Australia. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 280:1-9.
  • Crisp, M.D. and Cook, L.G. 2012. Phylogenetic niche conservatism: what are the underlying evolutionary and ecological causes? New Phytologist 196: 681-694
  • Kondo, T., Crisp, M.D., Linde C., Bowman, D.M.J.S., Kaneko, S., Kawamura, K. and Isagi, Y. 2012. Not an ancient relic: the endemic Livistona palms of arid central Australia could have been introduced by humans. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Biological Sciences 279: 2652-2661.
  • Thornhill, A.H., Popple, L.W., Carter, R.J., Ho, S.Y. and Crisp, M.D. 2012. Are pollen fossils useful for calibrating relaxed molecular clock dating of phylogenies? A comparative study using Myrtaceae. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 63: 15-17.
  • Crisp, M.D., Burrows, G.E., Cook, L.G., Thornhill, A.H. and Bowman, D.M.J.S. 2011. Flammable biomes dominated by eucalypts originated at the Cretaceous–Palaeogene boundary. Nature Communications 2: 193.
  • Crisp, M.D. and Cook LG. 2011. Cenozoic extinctions account for low diversity of extant gymnosperms compared with angiosperms. New Phytologist 192: 997-1009.
  • Crisp, M.D., Trewick, S.A. and Cook, L.G. 2011. Hypothesis testing in biogeography. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26: 66-72.
  • Biffin, E., Lucas, E., Craven, L., Ribeiro da Costa, I., Harrington, M. and Crisp, M.D. 2010. Evolution of exceptional species richness amongst lineages of fleshy-fruited Myrtaceae. Annals of Botany 106: 79-93.
  • Bowman, D.M.J.S., Brown, G.K., Braby, M.F., Brown, J.R., Cook, L.G., Crisp, M.D., Ford, F., Haberle, S., Hughes, J., Isagi, Y., Joseph, L., McBride, J., Nelson, G. and Ladiges, P.Y. 2010. Biogeography of the Australian monsoon tropics. Journal of Biogeography 37: 201-216.
  • Crisp, M.D., Isagi, Y., Kato, Y., Cook, L.G. and Bowman, D.M.J.S. 2010. Livistona palms in Australia: ancient relics or opportunistic immigrants? Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 54: 512-523.
  • Crisp, M.D., Arroyo, M.T.K. Cook, L.G., Gandolfo, M.A.G., Jordan, J., McGlone, M.S., Weston, P.H., Westoby, M., Wilf, P. and Linder, H.P. 2009. Phylogenetic biome conservatism on a global scale. Nature 458: 754-756
  • Crisp M.D. and Cook L.G. 2009. Explosive radiation or cryptic mass extinction? Interpreting signatures in molecular phylogenies. Evolution 63: 2257-65
  • Omland, K. E., Cook, L.G. and Crisp, M. D. 2008. Tree thinking for all biology: the problem with reading phylogenies as ladders of progress. Bioessays 30:854-867
  • Cook, L. G., and M. D. Crisp. 2005. Directional asymmetry of long-distance dispersal and colonisation could mislead reconstructions of biogeography. J. Biogeogr. 32:741-754.
  • Crisp, M. D., L. G. Cook, and D. A. Steane. 2004. Radiation of the Australian flora: what can comparisons of molecular phylogenies across multiple taxa tell us about the evolution of diversity in present-day communities? Phil. Trans. Royal Soc. B, Biol. Sci. 359:1551-1571.
  • Crisp, M. D., S. Laffan, H. P. Linder, and A. Monro. 2001. Endemism in the Australian flora. J. Biogeogr. 28:183-198.

All publications