Research in progress
- Oligo-Miocene avifaunas of Australia – taxonomy and phylogenetics. I began this work as a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of New South Wales (2009-2011) on a Linkage Project with numerous collaborators contracted to the Australian Research Council. Current and recent projects address cormorant, rail, pigeon, and emu evolution in Australia.
- Miocene fauna of New Zealand – description of the terrestrial vertebrates from the St Bathans Fauna, Otago, New Zealand, including frogs, squamates, birds, and mammals with several collaborators. In the period 2001-2005, I began the first major investigations of the terrestrial Miocene vertebrate faunas of NZ with New Zealand colleagues. During my PhD (2006-2008), and until the present, I continued this research with Australian Research Council (DP0770660), and UNSW support (UNSW Goldstar awards 2010, 2011) with Dr Suzanne Hand and Professor Michael Archer (UNSW) and Alan Tennyson (Te Papa) and Paul Scofield (Canterbury Museum) resulting in several publications on all groups in this fauna (see Bibliography), so effectively identifying the international significance of this fauna. We continue this research now (2012-2014) with renewed ARC funding (DP120100486) with Steve Salisbury (University Queensland) to continue describing the birds, mammals and reptiles of this diverse fauna.
- The Quaternary avifauna of New Zealand, and how this relates to climate/vegetation, with emphases on palaeoecology and taxonomic issues. This involves collaborations with several researchers re work on moa and other birds. 1, as an associate CI on a NZ Marsden funded project (New Zealand’s Megaherbivores. Their ecological roles and impact of their extinction on indigenous vegetation communities.) led by CIs Jamie Wood & Janet Wilmshurst, Lincoln University, Lincoln, Canterbury, New Zealand, with another associate CI (A. Cooper). This is examining the ecological roles of moa (Aves: Dinornithiformes) and the impact of their extinction through multidisciplinary methods. (http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/research/ecosystems/megaherbivores/index.asp); 2, I am collaborating with Alan Cooper and Nicolas Rawlence, Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, Adelaide University, SA, on molecular-based phylogenetic studies of moas; 3, I was recently a supervisor for Gillian Gibb, a PhD candidate at Massey University for her just submitted molecular-based project The Phylogeny of New Zealand Birds.
- Pacific palaeofaunas. Current projects include New Caledonia, Vanuatu, and Austral Islands, to determine the original prehuman faunal composition. Work to describe these faunas and the new taxa represented is in progress with several collaborators. The New Caledonian work is part of a project on the prehistoric colonisation of the Central Pacific directed by Prof. A. J. Anderson, Australian National University. The Vanuatu work on turtles and birds is with Dr Stuart Bedford and Professor Matthew Spriggs of ANU.