My research is in the systematics, phylogeny and morphology of Southern Hemisphere plant families, especially Australian Restionaceae and the allied Poalean monocots Anarthriaceae and Ecdeiocoleaceae. These are rush-like plants, closely related to the Poaceae (grasses) with major concentration of species in Western Australia. Over many years, this has included describing 51 new species, reclassifying 44, describing two new subfamilies and publishing a DNA-based phylogeny of the restiid clade.
DNA studies with former colleague Adam Marchant showed that Ecdeiocoleaceae, a grass-like Western Australian plant group, are the closest living relatives of the vastly important family Poaceae (the grasses). I have also studied the complex flowering sequences of the species of Ecdeiocoleaceae and have collaborated with others in the international Monocot Phylogeny Group on the phylogeny of Poales and Liliales. These studies have involved cooperation with Peter Linder, University of Zurich (Switzerland), Dmitry Sokoloff and Constantin Fomichev (Moscow State University, Russia), Paula Rudall (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, England) and Terry Macfarlane (Western Australian Herbarium). Former projects included phylogeny of the large families Proteaceae and Myrtales, and description of Australian species of Ranunculus, Veronica and Plantago.
I am preparing treatments of Restionaceae, Anarthriaceae and Ecdeiocoleaceae for publication in the online eFlora of Australia. This treatment in the eFlora presents a new classification arising from a DNA-based phylogeny of the restiid clade developed with colleagues. It will include keys for species identification, descriptions, bibliographies and synonymies for 159 Australian species. The texts for Anarthriaceae and several genera of Restionaceae have been published and others are in preparation. Features of seeds and fruit of these families are also being studied and organised for publication.