Rowell Group - Population genetics, karyology and phylogeography of terrestrial invertebrates

We are interested in the mechanisms behind the proximal processes of evolution – those that lead to population differentiation, divergence and ultimately speciation. Our group specialises in terrestrial invertebrates because their abundance and low dispersal rates make them excellent models for addressing basic evolutionary principles. Currently we are studying huntsman and funnelweb spiders, fergusonid flies and Onychophora. We use a number of different approaches including the examination of behaviour, morphology, sequence data and chromosomal variation.

Group Leader

PhD Student

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Selected publications

  • Barclay S., Rowell D.M. & Ash J.E. 2000 Pheromonally-mediated colonisation patterns in Onychophora. J. Zool. Lond 250: 437-446
  • Rockman M.V. & Rowell D.M. 2002 Episodic chromosomal evolution in Planipapillus: a phylogenetic approach to evolutionary dynamics and speciation. Evolution 56: 58 - 69
  • Rowell D.M, Rockman M.V. & Tait N.N. 2002 Extensive Robertsonian Rearrangement: Implications for the radiation and biogeography of Planipapillus Reid (Onychophora : Peripatopsidae). J. Zool. Lond. 257: 171 - 179
  • Reinhard J. & Rowell D.M. 2005 Social behaviour in an Australian velvet worm, Euperipatoides rowelli (Onychophora : Peripatopsidae). J. Zool. Lond. 267: 1  - 7
  • Gruetzner, F., Ashley T., Rowell D. & Graves J.M. (2006) How did the platypus get its sex chromosome chain? A comparison of meiotic multiples and sex chromosomes in plants and animals. Chromosoma 115: 75 - 88
  • Strausfeld N.J., Strausfeld C.M., Stowe S., Rowell D.M. & Loesel R. (2006) Organisation of neuropils in the brain of the onychophoran Euperipatoides rowelli and its evolutionary implications. Arthropod Structure and Development 35: 169 – 196
  • Sharp H.E. & Rowell D.M. (2007) Unprecedented chromosomal diversity and behaviour modify linkage patterns and speciation processes: structural Heterozygosity in an Australian Spider. J. Evol. Biol. 20: 2427 - 2439
  • Garrick R.C., Rowell D.M., Simmons C.S., Hillis D.M. & Sunnucks P. (2008) Fine-scale phylogeographic congruence despite demographic incongruence in two low-mobility saproxylic springtails. Evolution 62: 1103-1118
  • Beavis A.S., Sunnucks P.  & Rowell D.M. (2011) Microhabitat preferences drive phylogeographic disparities in two Australian funnel web spiders. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. Lond. 104 : 805-819
  • Yip E., Rowell D.M. & Rayor L. (2012) Behavioural and molecular evidence for selective immigration and group regulation in the social huntsman spider, Delena cancerides. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. Lond. 106: 749 - 762
  • Garrick R.C., Rowell D.M. & Sunnucks P. (2012) Phylogeography of Saproxylic and Forest Floor Invertebrates from Tallaganda, South-eastern Australia. Insects 3: 270 – 294
  • Jeffery N.W., Oliveira I.S., Gregory T.R., Rowell D.M., Mayer G. (2012) Genome size and chromosome number in velvet worms (phylum Onychophora). Genetica, 140: 497-504.
  • Bull JK*, Sands CJ*, Garrick RC, Gardner M, Tait NN, Briscoe DA, Rowell DM, Sunnucks P. (2014) Environmental complexity and biodiversity: the multi-layered evolutionary history of a log-dwelling velvet worm in montane temperate Australia. PLoS ONE. 8: e84559. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0084559

Beetle mania! PhD student Lauren is reshaping the family tree of longhorn beetles

Story | Friday 29 May 2020
Why judging a book by its cover has led to a tangled family tree for the longhorn beetle.

Two weeks in the rainforest: undergraduate field trip to the Daintree

Story | Tuesday 25 July 2017
Thirty-three undergraduate students from a variety of backgrounds spent 2 weeks in Cape Tribulation, north of Cairns, this month, as part of the BIOL 2203/3303, Field studies in functional ecology course.

Early career researcher - Thomas Wallenius

Story | Monday 21 December 2015
Research Background

Jervis Bay funnel-web surprises scientists

Story | Thursday 10 September 2015
Scientists studying funnel-web spiders at Booderee National Park near Jervis Bay, NSW, have found a large example of an unexpected funnel-web species.

Academic promotions: Level E Professor

Story | Monday 2 February 2015
Congratulations to the six RSB members who have been promoted to Level E Professor as of 1 January 2015.
Recorded EE Seminar - Yun Hsiao

E&E PhD Exit Seminar: Systematics and Evolutionary Biology of the Weevils Associated with Cycads in Australia (Coleoptera: Curculionidae)

Event | Wed 31 August 2022
Cycads are subtropical and tropical palm-like gymnosperms, commonly known as “living fossils” as they arose in the late Paleozoic and were much more diverse and dominant during the Mesozoic.

E&E PhD Exit Seminar: Phylogeny and systematics of the longhorn beetle genus Rhytiphora

Event | Fri 13 November 2020
The taxonomy and phylogenetic relationships of longhorn beetles have been debated for decades, with neither morphological nor molecular data reaching a consistent solution. 

E&E PhD Exit Seminar: Systematics of the Australian members of bee fly subfamily Bombyliinae and molecular phylogeny of the superfamily Asiloidea using anchored hybrid enrichment and transcriptome data

Event | Fri 12 July 2019

The Bombyliidae (bee flies), comprising 15 subfamilies, over 250 genera and over 5,000 described species, is one of the most species-rich families