Contact-image
Position
Research Scientist (Plant Taxonomy)
Address
Kings Park and Botanic Garden
Fraser Avenue
West Perth Western Australia 6005
Email
Phone
(+61 8) 9480 3614
Fax
(+61 8) 9480 3641

Research themes

  • Genetic variation and systematics of the seagrass genus Posidonia (Posidoniaceae) in Australia.
  • Systematics and phylogeny of the genus Lepidosperma (Cyperaceae) in Western Australia (with Matt Barrett, Jeremy Bruhl and Karen Wilson).
  • Systematics and phylogeny of the genus Calectasia (Dasypogonaceae) (with Matt Barrett).
  • Systematics, ecology, conservation and identification of the flora of the Kimberley region of Western Australia with emphasis on sandstone habitats (with Matt Barrett).
  • Ecology and conservation of the Western Australian flora.

Background

Russell Barrett grew up in the remote north-west Kimberley region, developing an early interest in the biota of the region. He went on to study botany and geography at the University of Western Australia before joining the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority in Kings Park, first as a research assistant, then later as a research scientist. These positions have included co-editing of books on Microorganisms in plant conservation and biodiversity, and Orchid conservation, as well as the recent publication of a photographic field guide to the flora of Kings Park and Bold Park (with Eng Pin Tay). An experienced taxonomist and photographer, he has travelled widely in Western Australia, particularly in the Kimberley and south-west districts, discovering numerous new plants species along the way. His taxonomic research has taken him to most of the major Australia herbaria, and several international herbaria to study Type material of Australian plants.

Project

Title: Ecological genetic patterns and processes in the seagrass genus Posidonia (Posidoniaceae).

University: School of Plant Biology, The University of Western Australia.

Supervisors: Kingsley Dixon, Gary Kendrick, Siegy Krauss, Marion Cambridge.

Industry Partner: Research partly sponsored by Cockburn Cement Ltd. in association with the Department for Industry and Resources.

Project description:
This study aims to provide an integrated assessment of genetic variation in the genus Posidonia, from species-level, to individual clone relationships, in the context of their natural ecology. In essence, this will examine the extent and direction of gene flow and barrier formation through the history of the genus to the present day. Genetic studies will be combined with morphology and ecology.

There have been several studies of particular aspects of the genetic relationships of species, populations and individuals in the genus Posidonia, however this will be the first study which aims to integrate the study of genetic variation at all of these levels. In order to assess the genetic variation at multiple levels, different molecular markers will be required, particularly between species-level relationships and individual-level relationships. The utility of several markers to answer these questions will be assessed.

Results of this study should provide:

  • Correlation of genetic and morphologic variation in the P. australis and P. ostenfeldii complexes.
  • A robust assessment of species relationships and species delimitation, particularly in the P. ostenfeldii complex.
  • Assessment of variation in population genetics of P. australis across its biogeographic range.
  • Assessment of patterns of interbreeding within and between populations of P. australis.

There is specific need for a clear definition of species boundaries as there is currently considerable debate over the number of taxa which should be recognised, with important implications for restoration activities.

Publications

  • Hay, A., Barrett, M.D. and Barrett, R.L. (1999) A new species of Typhonium (Araceae: Areae) from the West Kimberley, Western Australia. Nuytsia 13(1): 243–245.
  • Barrett, R.L. and Dixon, K.W. (2001) A revision of the genus Calectasia (Calectasiaceae) with eight new species described from south-west Western Australia. Nuytsia 13(3): 411–448.
  • Tieu, A., Dixon, K.W., Meney, K.A., Sivasithamparam, K. and Barrett, R.L. (2001) Spatial and developmental variation in seed dormancy characteristics in the fire-responsive species Anigozanthos manglesii (Haemodoraceae) from Western Australia. Annals of Botany 88(1): 19–26.
  • Given, D.R., Dixon, K.W., Barrett, R.L. and Sivasithamparam, K. (2002) Plant conservation and biodiversity: the place of microorganisms. In: Microorganisms in Plant Conservation and Biodiversity. Sivasithamparam, K., Dixon, K.W. and Barrett, R.L. (eds) pp. 1–18. Kluwer Academic Publishers. Dordrecht, Netherlands.
  • Sivasithamparam, K., Dixon, K.W. and Barrett, R.L. (eds) (2002) Microorganisms in Plant Conservation and Biodiversity. Kluwer Academic Publishers. Dordrecht, Netherlands. 378 pp.
  • Chase, M.W., Cameron, K.M., Barrett, R.L. and Freudenstein, J.V. (2003) DNA data and Orchidaceae systematics: a new phylogenetic classification. In: Orchid Conservation. Dixon, K.W., Kell, S.P., Barrett, R.L. and Cribb, P.J. (eds) pp. 69–89. Natural History Publications (Borneo), Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
  • Cribb, P.J., Kell, S.P., Dixon, K.W. and Barrett, R.L. (2003) Orchid Conservation: a global perspective. In: Orchid Conservation. Dixon, K.W., Kell, S.P., Barrett, R.L. and Cribb, P.J. (eds) pp. 1–24. Natural History Publications (Borneo), Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
  • Dixon, K.W. and Barrett, R.L. (2003) Defining the role of fire in south-west Western Australian plants. In: Fire in ecosystems of south-west Western Australia: impacts and management. Abbott, I. and Burrows, N. (eds). pp. 205–223. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, The Netherlands.
  • Dixon, K.W., Kell, S.P., Barrett, R.L. and Cribb, P.J. (eds) (2003) Orchid Conservation. Natural History Publications (Borneo), Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. 418 pp.
  • Nash, N., Barrett, R.L., Chalmers, I., Oakeley, H.F. and Richards, H. (2003) The role of orchid societies and growers in conservation. In: Orchid Conservation. Dixon, K.W., Kell, S.P., Barrett, R.L. and Cribb, P.J. (eds) pp. 313–328. Natural History Publications (Borneo), Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
  • Barrett, M.D. and Barrett, R.L. (2005) Micraira brevis and M. sp. A. In Mallett, K. and McCusker, A. (eds) Flora of Australia 44B, Poaceae part 3. pp. xvii, 124, 130, 458. ABRS and CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne.
  • Barrett, R.L., Hopper, S.D. and Farrer, S.L. (eds) (2005) Generic concepts and modern taxonomy. Australian Systematic Botany 18(1): Special Issue. 115 pp.
  • Barrett, R.L., Hopper, S.D. and Farrer, S.L. (2005) Preface. Generic concepts and modern taxonomy. Australian Systematic Botany 18(1): i–ii.
  • Barrett, R.L. and Pin Tay, E. (2005) Perth Plants. A field guide to the bushland and coastal flora of Kings Park and Bold Park. Botanic Gardens & Parks Authority, West Perth. 416 pp.
  • Barrett, R.L., Wells, G.B. and Dixon, K.W. (2005) Triodia fissura. In Mallett, K. and McCusker, A. (eds) Flora of Australia 44B, Poaceae part 3. pp. 207–208, 458–459. ABRS and CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne.
  • Barrett, R.L. (2006) A review of the genus Planchonia (Lecythidaceae) in Australia. Australian Systematic Botany 19(2): 147-153.