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Prof

Michael Kearney

Professor
Biosciences
hybridization
Habitat use
behavioural ecology
social behaviour
parthenogenetic organisms
evolutionary ecology
science & technology
life sciences & biomedicine
environmental sciences & ecology
Michael Kearney's Profile Picture
Prof

Michael Kearney

 
Division
Science
 
Primary Interest
Conservation and Wildlife Biology/Animal Behaviour and Evolution
Michael Kearney's Profile Picture
Prof

Michael Kearney

 

Background

I completed my undergraduate studies in Botany and Zoology at Monash University where I obtained a BSc(Honours) in 1998. I then obtained his PhD.

in Zoology at the University of Sydney under the guidance of Prof. Richard Shine in 2004. This included a one year Fulbright fellowship the USA where I collaborated with Prof. Kellar Autumn at Lewis and Clark College in Portland Oregon, and Prof. Warren Porter at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin. I then took up an Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Environmental Stress and Adaptation Research (CESAR) from 2004-2006. I joined the Zoology Department as a lecturer in 2007.


Research

The impact of climate on animals

My research in this field is focused on understanding how climate impacts on the distribution and abundance of terrestrial animals. My approach combines laboratory and field investigations of ecophysiology and behaviour. A particular focus is on developing trait-based, mechanistic models that enable predictions of distributions under current and future climates with GIS data. I have been working with Prof. Warren Porter at The University of Wisconsin to develop computer programs that use energy balance equations and microclimate models to predict how traits (behaviour, morphology and physiology) of organisms interact with climatic conditions to affect key fitness components such as potential activity time, development and growth rates, water balance and food requirements. Importantly, this trait-based approach makes it possible to incorporate evolutionary change. Current and widely-used regression-based approaches to this problem are unable to incorporate evolution because they use the distribution points of the organism as a starting point rather than its traits. The trait-based models we are developing work for any kind of ectotherm or endotherm and hold great promise for enhancing our understanding of the adaptive significance of climate-sensitive traits, for looking at selection gradients across landscapes, and of course for predicting the impact of climate change.

The evolution of parthenogenesis

The maintenance of sexual reproduction is regarded as a major unsolved problem in evolutionary biology. My research has focused on species that have secondarily lost sexual reproduction and instead reproduce by parthenogenesis. There are strong geographical and genetic correlates of the transition from sex to parthenogenesis. Specifically their distributions are often biased towards high latitudes, high altitudes or arid environments. For instance, in the Australian arid zone, we find multiple instances of parthenogenesis in lizards, insects and plants. Parthenogenetic organisms are also very often polypoids, hybrids or both.

I am interested in extent to which the ecological and geographical tendencies of parthenogenetic organisms are influenced by hybridization and by polyploidy. We need to answer this question if we are to truly understand the relevance of naturally parthenogenetic organisms to the paradox of sex. I approach this question using a number of parthenogenetic organisms from the Australian arid zone, including the grasshopper Warramaba virgo, the stick insects Sipyloidea nelida and S. similis, and the gecko Heteronotia binoei. I combine phylogeographic analysis, life-history and ecophysiological studies to compare the ecology and evolution of the parthenogenetic lineages with that of their sexual progenitors. An exciting prospect in this research is the ability, at least in W. virgo, to artificially synthesize hybrid and polyploid lineages. My collaborators in this reserach are Prof. Craig Mortiz (The University of Califorina, Berkeley) and Dr. Mark Blacket (The University of Melbourne).

Projects

Displaying the 22 most recent projects by Michael Kearney.

22

Projects

Project Types


17

Research Grant


3

Research Contracts


2

Internal Research Grant


Scholarly Works

Displaying the 155 most recent scholarly works by Michael Kearney.

Honours, Awards and Fellowships

2018

Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher 2018

Thomson Reuters

2017

Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher 2017

Thomson Reuters

2016

The HG Andrewartha Medal

Royal Society of South Australia

2016

Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher 2016

Thomson Reuters

2016

Thomson Reuters Most Influential Scientific Minds 2015

Thomson Reuters

2015

Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher 2015

Thomson Reuters

2014

Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher 2014

Thomson Reuters

2013

Recognition of Achievement for a Research Paper

British Ecological Society

2011

Australian Research Fellowship

Australian Research Council

2011

Future Fellowship (declined)

Australian Research Council

2010

David Syme Research Prize for research in Biology, Chemistry, Geology or Physics

The University of Melbourne

2008

Deans Award for Excellence in Research

The University of Melbourne

2005

Award for best PhD thesis

Jabez King Heydon

2002

Comparative Meeting Travel Award

American Physiological Society

2001

Australian-American Fulbright Award

Australian-American Fulbright Commission

2000

Australian Postgraduate Award

Australian Federal Government

1998

A R Wallace Prize for Best Honours Thesis

Monash University

1997

Vice-Chancellor?s Undergraduate Research Scholarship

Monash University

1994

1st Year Earth Science Prize

Monash University

19

Awards

Credentials

Positions


Professor

Biosciences

Member

Ecological Society of Australia

Secretary

Victorian Fulbright Alumni

Secretary

Australian Society of Herpetologists

Member

Genetics Society of Australia

Member

Australasian Society for the Study of Evolution

Member

Australian Society of Herpetologists

Assistant Secretary

100 Acres Reserve Advisory Committee

Secretary

Monash Biological Society

Education


Doctor of Philosophy

University of Sydney

Bachelor of Science (Honours)

Monash University