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Genomic biogeography and taxonomy of northern Australian eucalypts in the Monsoon Tropics and Arid Zone

This project will use new genomic tools to provide insight into the evolutionary history, classification and biogeography of eucalypts that dominate the woodlands and forests of northern Australia. The research team will use molecular phylogenies to assess the relationships of the northern Australian eucalypts and conduct detailed studies of genetic variation within selected species.

Research will focus on three key eucalypt groups: Ghost Gums (Corymbia subg. Blakella), Red Bloodwoods (Corymbia subg. Corymbia) and Eudesmids (Eucalyptus subg. Eudesmia), all of which have centres of diversity in northern Australia and whose phylogenetic-relationships are poorly known.

This project will:

  1. Use eucalypts as key examples to address continental-scale questions about evolution of the Australian flora in the Monsoon Tropics and central Arid Zone, e.g. understanding how plants of the Arid Zoe are phylogenetically related to those from other areas.
  2. Use patterns of genetic variation in multiple species across northern Australia to infer vegetation history, and to identify distinct genetic lineages and hotspots of genetic diversity relevant to conservation – important in the context of proposals for increased development of northern Australia, and assessing the potential impacts on the biota.
  3. Resolve questions regarding species-level classification in eucalypts of northern Australia, thus improving taxonomy and understanding of eucalypts diversity.
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