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Jane Melville

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Current Grants and Projects

2007 - 2009 Australian Research Council Linkage Grant
"How much habitat and what configuration maintain natural levels of connectivity in southeast Australian native birds?"
Chief Investigators : Paul Sunnucks (Monash University), James Radford (Deakin University); Partner Investigators: Leo Joseph (Australian National Wildlife Collection, CSIRO), Jane Melville (Museum Victoria), Graeme Newell (Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, DSE)

We will explore the effect of habitat loss and fragmentation in agricultural landscapes by comparing the effective population size, genetic structure and population dynamics of bird species in landscapes that have experienced different levels of habitat loss. As part of this large collaborative project Jane Melville will be running a project on the effects of habitat fragmentation on the complex social structure of the white-winged chough (Corcorax melanorhamphos), using field-based collection and genetics in the lab. The work will be undertaken in ten landscapes within the Box-Ironbark bioregion of central Victoria. The white-winged chough is a ground-dwelling bird that has been shown to remain in natural habitat fragments and has an unwillingness to cross agricultural land. The white-winged choughs are highly social, cooperative breeders that form strong family groups with young animals remaining with the parents for extended periods of time. Significant levels of fragmentation could conceivably cause a break-down in this social structure or lead to a significant increase in levels of inbreeding, parasite loads and stress.

2007 - 2009 Australian Research Council Discovery Grant
"Convergent Evolution of Desert Lizards: Phylogenomics and Morphological Analyses of Limb Development", Jane Melville (Chief Investigator), Jonathan Losos (Harvard University)

Evolutionary convergence, where similar traits evolve independently in multiple lineages, is a fundamental biological process, which affects many aspects of an organism's phenotype. Despite its importance we have virtually no understanding of what underlies the phenotypic convergence we observe in nature - does convergence in genotype underlie convergence in morphology? We will address this question by investigating whether convergence in hindlimb morphology of desert iguanian lizards results from convergent evolution of genes involved in hindlimb development. We will be developing cDNA libraries, using qPCRs and in situ hybridization to tackle these questions. Postdoc Georgia Mantziou, a research assistant Rebecca Rose and an Honours student Felicity McLean.

2006 - 2008 Australian Biological Resources Study Participatory Program Grant
"An integrative approach to the revision of four genera of Australian lizards (family Agamidae, subfamily Amphibolurinae)." JE Melville (Chief Investigator); RE Glor (University of Rochester); JA Schulte II (Clarkson University)

This grant will continue our research on the molecular systematics and phylogeography of Australia's agamid lizards. In particular we will be focusing research efforts on determining species boundaries and taxonomic status of species in the genera Pogona, Amphibolurus, and Lophognathus. The molecular work for this project has been undertaken by Euan Ritchie, who has launched into the wonderous world of molecular systematics after years of research experience as a field ecologist. On completion of this ABRS project, we will have finished a comprehensive molecular review within and between species in most genera of Australian agamid lizards.

2006 - 2008 Australian Research Council Linkage Grant
"Habitat fragmentation: Human-induced changes in the genetic structure of amphibian populations." JE Melville; J Van Buskirk (University of Melbourne); KM Parris (Deakin University); JJ Austin (University of Adelaide); MJ Littlejohn (University of Melbourne)

This grant funds two PhD projects: Josh Hale and Katie Smith . This is an exciting project in which we will be using historical museum specimens to examine the population genetic structure of frogs species north of Melbourne and compare this with current population genetics. Using these past and present genetic comparisons we will be able to look at changes with urbanisation and changes in hybrid zones over forty years.

2005 - 2007 University of Melbourne Linkage Grant
"Determining the mechanisms of self-recruitment in Australian coral reef fishes: A comparison of the life-history, evolutionary relationships and population genetics of endemic and non-endemic species." S Swearer (P.I.) (University of Melbourne); JE Melville

This grant funds the molecular work for Vanessa Thompson's PhD project.

Past Grants and Projects

  • 2004 Award for Research on the Conservation of Endangered Australian Vertebrate Species, Australian Academy of Sciences
  • "Conservation genetics and ecology of Victoria's earless dragons." JE Melville (Chief Investigator)

  • 2004 - 2006 Australian Research Council Discovery Grant (Ecology and Evolution)
  • "A molecular phylogenetic study of the evolution of ecological specialisation in Amphibolurinae agamid lizards." JE Melville (Chief Investigator)

  • 2001 - 2003 Australian Research Council Large Grant (Ecology and Evolution)
  • "Evolutionary ecology and molecular systematics of desert agamid and iguanid lizards" Jane Melville (Chief Investigator), JB Losos (Harvard University), A Larson (Washington University), N Ananjeva (Russian Academy of Sciences)