Biodiversity research

Research on the diversity of living animals in Queensland and adjacent regions is undertaken by the Biodiversity Program. Our staff, students and volunteers build collections and use these to study the fauna that forms Queensland’s many unique ecosystems. This research spans the entire animal kingdom, from single-celled protozoans to mammals and birds.

People on a boat Marine researchers setting out for a collecting trip at Lizard Island Research station.
Photo: J. Hooper, QM.
Various marine invertebrates that have been caught Researchers examining marine invertebrate specimens in the field in preparation for research on the collection.
Photo: Sessile Marine Invertebrates section QM.
Laboratory equipment Researcher examining marine invertebrates in the laboratory at the Museum of Tropical Queensland.
Photo: QM.

These collections, some acquired 150 years ago, and the research undertaken on them define Queensland in time and space. Today, collections are made strategically to best document the material evidence of Queensland's changing environment. The aim of this research is to define the Queensland fauna in the context of the Indo-Pacific region and globally. It involves the so-called biodiversity sciences: taxonomy; systematics; ecology; genetics; biogeography; evolution. Taxonomy underpins the other biological sciences. It provides authority to the Museum’s products, services and community profile.

This information is communicated to a variety of audiences using a range of media. These include

  • peer-reviewed articles and books
  • popular publications and displays
  • environmental consultancies and technical reports
  • conservation advisory, collection reference
  • education services such as workshops, lectures and tertiary student supervision.

Queensland Centre for Biodiversity (QCB)

  • The QCB provides an umbrella to focus biodiversity research externally in areas of perceived strategic priority aligned with the Queensland and National R&D Priorities. Research is usually undertaken in partnership with local, state and national government agencies; non-Government organisations; universities; conservation agencies; industry; and increasingly with international agencies.
  • It promotes the relevance of biodiversity throughout the wider community. A major aim is to demonstrate why research on our living ecosystems is essential to detect and measure environmental change. The Museum’s collections are a unique resource for this purpose.
  • It establishes key external partnerships to leverage external funding to achieve these outcomes.
  • It contributes to using research on the natural history collections for applied topics. This includes the emerging DNA and chemical technologies (biodiscovery) that contribute to advancements in human and veterinary medicine; environmental assessment and monitoring; genetic diagnostics and other fields that may have commercial outcomes.

Research facilities and collections

  • Zoological collections and research laboratories are located at South Bank in Brisbane, and at the Museum of Tropical Queensland in Townsville. These include dry, alcohol preserved and frozen whole specimens; skeletal preparations; a minus 80 degrees tissue library; and DNA extracts.
  • Research laboratories include: wet and dry preparation facilities; skinning rooms and freeze-dryers; histology; scanning electron microscopy; digital light microscopy including automontage systems; conventional and ultrafreezers; and a Molecular Identities Laboratory.
  • The Museum has extensive collections of specialist literature on the taxonomy and biology of marine and terrestrial animals. These include many rare books and expedition reports on natural history at South Bank.