What we do

My primary research interest is the study and evaluation of evolutionary processes and we work mostly on reptile and frog systems because they are the animals I know the most about. My research interests and those of the lab are quite broad. We "concentrate" on four main research areas which are described below. Of course there is overlap between these research themes, particularly in some of the molecular methods used to tackle questions. Check out our lab publications to get a better feel for what my lab does.

Molecular Phylogenetics, Phylogeography and Conservation Genetics. My bread and butter research is molecular phylogenetics and all that that entails - including seeing our results through to taxonomic revision and description of new species. Virtually all of my ARC funded research is to develop big molecular phylogenies and then use these phylogenies to answer cool evolutionary questions. My interests span higher level phylogenetics, species level phylogeography and also phylogenetic approaches to comparative biology, conservation genetics and taxonomy. At the moment I am involved in several large ARC funded projects on elapid snakes, myobatrachid frogs and phylogeography of Australian herps. I collaborate with Steve Donnellan of the South Australian Museum, Paul Doughty of the Western Australian Museum, Joanna Sumner of the Victorian Museum, Craig Moritz here at ANU, Conrad Hoskin at James Cook University, and lots of others too.  

Comparative Evolutionary Biology.  One of our main drivers of building big phylogenies for species and populations is to then use them to study how other traits evolve.  We now have a number of projects going on in the lab where we are trying to take advantage of many years of hard phylogeny generating and apply them, and new phylogenetic comparative methods, to address a range of cool topics including the evolution of morphological traits, behaviour, colour and distributions.  A few current ones include the evolution of size and shape in Australian frogs, head shape in goannas, colour in Australian frogs and African lizards, and brain size in Australian dragons. I collaborate a lot with Dale Roberts from the University of Western Australia, Phil Byrne from the University of Wollongong and Martin Whiting from Macquarie University on these projects.  

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Behavioural and Molecular Ecology. I have a long-standing interest in this area of research and so I sometimes dress up as a behavioural ecologist. We mostly work on mate choice, mating systems, social structure and anti-predator behaviour in both the field and the lab. We also develop and use microsatellites to do paternity testing. My main study animal is the southern water skink, Eulamprus heatwolei, but my students and postdocs have worked on a number of different species of lizards, frogs and fish. Our lizard room and lizard yard are heavily used for this work. I collaborate extensively with Martin Whiting at Macquarie University and co-supervise several students with him.  

Natural History and Conservation Biology. I am very interested in basic natural history and what it can tell us about the ecology, evolution and behaviour of species. Much of this research is based on dissection and measurement of museum specimens - a greatly under utilised biological resource. We also use this information and field and lab based studies to address conservation issues of threatened and endangered animals. I collaborate with Rick Shine at the University of Sydney and Jonno Webb at Sydney University of Technology. 

   © Scott Keogh 2013