Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Evolutionary Ecology Research

Our ecologists study, describe and map the distribution and assemblage of native species across New South Wales and Australia in general. A major focus of our research is in understanding what are the main factors that affect temporal changes in distribution. These studies provide a basis for well-informed species and habitat conservation advice and natural resource management - to aid in conservation decisions by Government, private landholders and land use agencies.

Our ecologists also provide expert scientific opinion to the Government and the general public by participating in advisory committees that are part of recent conservation legislation.

We have dedicated research laboratories for a wide range of opportunities in conservation and population genetics research. Genetics studies are aimed at developing adequate management strategies for rare and threatened species. DNA-based techniques are used to investigate changes in population dynamics, gene diversity and overall viability that occur as a consequence of the loss of connectivity across fragmented habitats. We are increasingly relying in innovative Next Generation Sequencing approaches and associated bioinformatic analyses. Some examples of Evolutionary Ecology’s research projects are listed below.

Current programs & projects

Restore & Renew NSW

Evolution, Biogeography and Adaptation

Community Ecology

Our team


  • Maurizio Rossetto (Principal Research Scientist) - Population dynamics and evolution of rainforest assemblages, Elaeocarpaceae, Vitaceae, Lauraceae, Cunoniaceae, Telopea, Lomatia, Eidothea

Science staff

  • Christopher Allen (Senior Technical Officer)
  • Hannah McPherson (Scientific Officer) - Biogeography of the eastern tetrathecas: Elaeocarpaceae
  • Marlien van de Merwe (Scientific Officer)
  • Rohan Mellick (Field and Laboratory Technical Officer) - Comparing and contrasting molecular and fossil data in Podocarpus elatus
  • Joel Cohen (Technical Officer) - Peat Swamps Project
  • Juelian Siow (Technical Officer) - Next Generation Sequencing Bioinformatics

Research students

  • Frances Elliot - PhD: Extent of clonality and taxonomic relationships in Davidsonia (Cunoniaceae)
  • Margaret Heslewood - PhD: Historical biogeography and phylogeography of the family Cunoniaceae (Oxalidales) in Australasia
  • Melita Milner (nee Baum) - PhD: Phylogeography of Lomatia and Telopea (Proteaceae)
  • Susan Rutherford - PhD: Ecualypts: adaptive variation versus vicariance
  • Abigail Greenfields - Honours: cpDNA diversity in Wollemia nobilis

Honorary Research Associates

View from Mount Seldom Seen, Victoria. Photo: Susan Rutherford

‘Ecological Burn’. Photo: Lotte von Richter


Wrapped - Photo Cathy Offord

Nets under Wollemi Pines

ecologist in the field

field work