PhD (Australian National University)
Position: Senior Lecturer

Room: 117 Goddard Building 8
Phone: +61 7 3365 2070


Research Interests

My research is primarily aimed at understanding the origins, diversification and distributions of organisms, especially plants and insects in Australia. I mostly take a comparative approach and use molecular phylogenies to test hypotheses about ecological and evolutionary processes. Recent and ongoing topics include: understanding how interactions among plants and insects affect the evolutionary radiation of each; teasing apart the effects of extinction and speciation to understand how past climate and environmental change has shaped our biota; and investigating the relative roles of continental drift and long distance dispersal in explaining the current distribution patterns of organisms in the southern hemisphere. Specific questions relate, but are not limited, to topics such as:

  • how the diversification of the unique Australian flora has driven insect speciation

  • whether specific insect-plant interactions are the result of long term co-radiation or more recent adaptive radiations of insects

  • the relative roles of vicariance (such as that induced by continental drift) and dispersal in explaining the current distribution patterns of southern hemisphere organisms

  • evolutionary patterns of host-use (specialists versus generalists)

  • how past climate change has shaped the current distributions of taxa

  • assembly of the flora and fauna of current biomes, especially the arid zone, monsoon tropics and southern temperate biomes

  • phylogeography of plants and insects, and what this reveals about contemporary and recent gene flow

  • consequences of differential dispersal, such as that between male and female scale insects, different developmental stages, or seed and pollen

Selected Publications

 Crisp, M. D., M. T. K. Arroyo, L. G. Cook, M. A. Gandolfo, G. J. Jordan, M. S. McGlone, P. H. Weston, M. Westoby, P. Wilf, and H. P. Linder. 2009. Phylogenetic biome conservatism on a global scale. Nature 458:754-756.

Crisp, M. D., and L. G. Cook. 2009. Explosive radiation or cryptic mass extinction? Interpreting signatures in molecular phylogenies. Evolution 63:2257-2265.

Cook, L. G., and M. D. Crisp. 2005. Directional asymmetry of long-distance dispersal and colonization could mislead reconstructions of biogeography. Journal of Biogeography 32:741-754.

Cook, L. G., and M. D. Crisp. 2005. Not so ancient: the extant crown group of Nothofagus represents a post-Gondwanan radiation. Proceedings of the Royal Society London B 272:2535-2544.

Edwards, R. D., L. A. Craven, M. D. Crisp, and L. G. Cook. 2010. Melaleuca revisited: cpDNA and morphological data confirm that Melaleuca L. (Myrtaceae) is not monophyletic. Taxon 59:744-754. 

Funded Projects

Species discovery and molecular systematics of Australia scale insects.
Grant Body: ABRS
Grant Period: 2009-2012

Distinguishing among patterns of extinction and speciation through geological and climatic change: a molecular modelling approach
Grant Body: ARC DP
Grant Period: 2009-2011
Value: $280 000