CIE Seminar Series 2015 – Past, present and future: demographic histories of diverse mammal and bird faunas revealed by ancient DNA

Jeremy AustinSPEAKER: Assoc Professor Jeremy AustinAustralian Centre for Ancient DNA, School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Sth Australia
DATE: Friday, 5th June 2015
LOCATION: Melbourne-Burwood Campus, Room LT4 (B3.05)
TIME: 12:00 noon
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds, Room ka5.303 and Warrnambool Campus, Room G1.01 (Percy Baxter LT)

ABSTRACT: Ancient DNA can create new views of complex evolutionary and environmental changes in the past.

In this talk I will discuss a number of recent projects that focus on evolutionary issues for conservation and management of threatened biodiversity (northern hairy-nosed wombats, Tasmanian devils, antilopine wallaroos) and the human colonisation of the Pacific (using ancient and modern chicken DNA).

This research has revealed that faunal histories are surprisingly dynamic, posing a challenge to current conservation research, which often interprets the distribution of modern genetic diversity in a relatively straightforward fashion. This has major implications for conservation management practices especially as species trans-location becomes a widespread management tool.

BIO: My research uses ancient DNA techniques in two very different fields of genetics and evolution.

The first focuses on using DNA sampled through space and time to understand the evolutionary history of living and extinct animals and birds, to assess the impacts of past environmental change on animal and bird populations, and to provide valuable genetic data for conservation and management of threatened species.

The second utilises ancient DNA techniques to allow forensic identification of highly degraded human remains – murder victims, missing persons and war dead.

In this area my group is developing new genomics techniques for human identification as well as providing a service to the Australian Defence Force, Australian Police and humanitarian agencies to assist with the identification of human remains.

Appointments with guest speaker may be made via Euan Ritchie