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Research Associate
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I have studied the plants and fungi of the Kimberley region for over 20 years, having initially developed an interest while growing up on my parent's cattle station on the Gibb River Road. In conjunction with my brother Russell, I have made over 7000 collections of Kimberley plants, and over 1000 collections of Kimberley fungi. Many of these collections represent previously unknown species, or new records for Western Australia. In collaboration with other national and international expers, our studies have resulted in publications of many new species in many genera, including Grevillea, Goodenia, Typhonium, Micraira, Triodia, Backhousia, Calytrix, and fungi in the genera Inocybe, Agaricus, Moreaua, Tilletia, Eriocortex and Xerula. Further papers describing new Kimberley species in Acacia, Hypoxis, Lomandra, Borya, Centrolepis, Typhonium/Lazarum, Lechenaultia, Micraira, Triodia and Lepidostroma are in preparation. Many of the new species are rare and have restricted distributions, and highlight the importance of intensive surveys for assessing conservation priorities.

After graduating from Science and Engineering degrees at the University of Western Australia, I took up a PhD project investigating genetic diversity and hybridisation in waxflowers (Chamelaucium, Myrtaceae) based at Kings Park and Botanic Garden. This project resulted in the recognition of four distinct forms within the cultivated waxflower (Chamelaucium uncinatum), and provided methods to identify weed populations from native populations, and made several recommendations for protection of genetic diversity of native populations, and also for conservation of the now rare 'Geraldton' forms, which paradoxically occur as weed populations in some areas.

After graduating from my PhD in 2006, I undertook a post-doc position at the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority investigating general biology and conservation (especially genetic diversity, mating systems and dispersal) in two restricted DRF taxa Darwinia masonii and Lepidosperma gibsonii, on Banded Ironstone formation in the Midwest region of Western Australia.

Research themes

  • Patterns of diversity and adaptation in desert spinifex (Triodia, Poaceae).
  • Phylogeny of wax flowers, featherflowers and bells (Myrtaceae subtribe Chamelauciinae).
  • Population structure, mating systems and dispersal in Banded Ironstone short range endemic species (Darwinia masonii and Lepidosperma gibsonii).
  • Diversification of the Kimberley flora, with emphasis on radiations associated with sandstone.
  • Origin and radiation of Australian Arum lilies (Araceae tribe Areae: Typhonium and Lazarum).
  • Systematics and taxonomy of Centrolepis (Centrolepidaceae).
  • Systematics and speciation in Australian sword sedges (Lepidosperma), with Dr. Russell Barrett.
  • Taxonomy and systematics of the Australian topical fungi.
  • Conservation of the Western Australian flora.

Major projects

  • (2012-2015): Post-doctoral researcher on ARC Linkage project:'Defining biologically significant units in spinifex (Triodia spp.) for improved ecological restoration in arid Australia'. This project is investigating systematics of spinifexes in north-western Australia, population genetics and the implications for seed sourcing in the Pilbara regions of WA, and biogeographical history of north-western Australia.
  • (2006 - 2010): An integrated research program into practical outcomes for the ex situ and in situ conservation, restoration and translocation of Lepidosperma sp. 'Mt Gibson'.
  • (2006 - ): Molecular systematics of the genus Lepidosperma (Cyperaceae) (in collaboration with Dr. Russell Barrett, Dr. Jeremy Bruhl, University of New England and Dr. Karen Wilson, Sydney Botanic Garden.
  • (2005 - ): Molecular systematics of Chamelaucium, Verticordia, Darwinia and related genera (Myrtaceae: Chamelaucieae) (in collaboration with Dr Peter Wilson, Sydney Botanic Garden).
  • (2004 - 2010): An integrated research program into practical outcomes for the ex situ and in situ conservation, restoration and translocation of Darwinia masonii.
  • (2002 - 2005): Interspecific hybridisation of waxflower (Chamelaucium uncinatum) in Bold Park, an urban bushland in Perth, Western Australia.
  • (1998 - 2001): Control of Buffel Grass (Cenchrus ciliaris) on Airlie Island, Western Australia.

Selected publications

Vanky K, Shivas RG, Barrett MD and Lutz M (2013) Eriocortex eriocauli, gen. et sp. nov. (Ustilaginomycetes) from Australia. Mycobiota 1: 9-16.

Description of Agaricus lamelliperdidtus Lebel and M.D. Barrett in Lebel T (2013) Two new species of sequestrate Agaricus (section Minores) from Australia. Mycological Progress DOI 10.1007/s11557-012-0879-x

Harrington, M.G., Jackes, B.R., Barrett, M.D., Craven, L.A. and Barrett, R.L (2012) Phylogenetic revision of tribe Backhousieae (Myrtaceae): Neogene divergence, a revised circumscription of Backhousia and two new species. Australian Systematic Botany 25: 404-417

Description of Inocybe torresiae Matheny, Bougher and M.D. Barrett in Bougher NL, Matheny PB and Gates GM (2012) Five new species and records of Inocybe (Agaricales) from temperate and tropical Australia. Nuytsia 22(2): 57-74.

Barrett MD, Wallace MJ and Anthony JM 2012. Characterisation and cross application of ten novel microsatellite markers for a rare sword sedge, Lepidosperma gibsonii (Cyperaceae). American Journal of Botany 99: e14-e16.

School Ball parking

Temporary parking on Fraser Avenue will not be provided for buses, limos and cars, and fines will apply.

Rotary Wishing Well works

Works will be taking place at the Rotary Wishing Well near Fraser Circle from 17 January 2023 until further notice.

Blue Boat House works

The City of Perth will be replacing the timber stairs at the blue boat house from Monday 30 January until Tuesday 28 February 2023.

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Rare plants stolen from Kings Park

We're devastated to announce up to 900 of WA’s rarest orchids have been stolen from the Conservation Garden in Kings Park.

Dr Scalzo awarded Medal of the Order of Australia

Congratulations to Kings Park's Dr Tony Scalzo on receiving the award of a Medal of the Order of Australia (General Division).

Life after fire: a seed's 70 year journey

Bushfires are devastating for the communities they rip through. In the Quairading fires in February this year, farmer Murray Williams lost everything on his farm apart from his home.

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