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Professor Stephen Donnellan

Telephone +61 8 8313 4855
Position Affiliate Professor
Fax +61 8 8313 4364
Building Darling Building
Floor/Room 2 10b
Campus North Terrace
Org Unit Genetics & Evolution

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Biography/ Background

Position: Chief Researcher, Evolutionary Biology Unit, and Head of Biology at the South Australian Museum, Adelaide.


1985 PhD. Biological Sciences, Macquarie University. 1976 1st class B.Sc. Honours. Department of Human Genetics, University of NSW

Research Interests

My research interests are diverse, encompassing the molecular systematics and evolution of the Australasian biota.

At present I am particularly interested in the biogeographic relationships between Australia and Melanesia and the origins and diversification patterns of the fauna of both regions.

Underlying the search and explanation for patterns in the evolution of our fauna is the discovery and description of our biodiversity. I have a strong focus on the use of molecular genetic approaches for the discovery of cryptic species in all vertebrate groups. My studies of higher level phylogenetic relationships at present encompass fishes, sharks and rays, rodents and bats [with Ken Aplin and Kyle Armstrong], snakes, lizards and frogs [with Scott Keogh, Paul Doighty and Craig Moritz].

My research benefits from the enormous tissue collection held by the SA Museum, the Australian Biological Tissue Collection [ABTC], which holds tissues suitable for molecular analyses from a large proportion of the Australian and Melanesian vertebrates.

I also convene the management group for the South Australian Regional Facility for Molecular Evolution and Ecology, which provides substantial facilities for molecular genetic analysis for researchers from the SA Museum, University of Adelaide and Flinders University. The facility has real-time PCR capability, several robots, and large numbers of standard PCR machines for high throughput analyses.


10 recent publications:

Sistrom M, Donnellan SC, Hutchinson MN. (2013). Delimiting species in recent radiations with low levels of morphological divergence: A case study in Australian Gehyra geckos. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 68, 135-143.


Marin J, Donnellan SC, Hedges SB, Doughty P, Hutchinson MN, Cruaud C, Vidal N. (2013). Tracing the history and biogeography of the Australian blindsnake radiation. Journal of Biogeography 40, 928-937. doi:10.1111/jbi.12045.


Murphy R, Crawford A, Bauer A, Jing C, Donnellan SC., Fritz U, Haddad C, Nagy Z, Poyarkov N, Vences M, Wang WW, Ya-Ping Z. (2013). Cold Code: The global initiative to DNA barcode amphibians and non-avian reptiles. Molecular Ecology Resources 13, 161-167. (doi: 10.1111/1755-0998.12050).


Thomson V, Aplin K, Cooper A, Hisheh S, Suzuki H, Maryanto I, Donnellan SC. (2014). Molecular genetic evidence for the place of origin of the Pacific Rat, Rattus exulans. PLOS One 9, e91356.


Rabosky DL, Donnellan SC, Grundler M, Lovette IJ. (2014). The relationship between speciation and morphological evolution in Australian scincid lizards. Systematic Biology 63, 610-627. doi: 10.1093/sysbio/syu025.


Sistrom M, Hutchinson MN, Bertozzi T, Donnellan SC. (2014). Evaluating evolutionary history in the face of high gene tree discordance in Australian Gehyra (Reptilia: Gekkonidae). Heredity 113, 52-63.


Ciavaglia S, Donnellan SC, Henry JM, Linacre AM. (2014). Species identification of protected carpet pythons suitable for degraded forensic samples. Forensic Science Medicine and Pathology 10, 295–305. DOI 10.1007/s12024-014-9573-4


Mitchell KJ, Pratt RC, Watson LN, Gibb GC, Kasper M, Edson J, Kyle Armstrong K, Meyer M, Hofreiter M, Austin J, Donnellan SC, Lee MSY, Phillips MJ, Cooper A. (2014). Phylogeny and macroevolution of the marsupials. Molecular Biology and Evolution 31, 2322-2330. DOI: 10.1007/s12686-013-0090-7


Donnellan SC, Foster R, Junge C, Huveneers C, Kilian A, Bertozzi T. (2015). Fiddling with the proof: the Magpie Fiddler ray is a colour pattern variant of the common Southern Fiddler ray (Rhinobatidae: Trygonorrhina). Zootaxa 3981, 367–384.


Catalano SR, Whittington ID, Donnellan SC, Bertozzi T, Gillanders BM. (2015). Deceptive dicyemids: first comparative insight into the architecture of COI mitochondrial minicircle molecules reveals marked inter-species variation and unique COI gene structure. Parasitology (published on-line 17 April 2015) doi:10.1017/S0031182015000384

Professional Associations

Australian Society of Herpetologists
Genetics Society of AustralAsia
Society of Australian Systematic Biologists


Entry last updated: Thursday, 6 Aug 2015

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