Joanna M Sumner

Joanna M Sumner
Museum Victoria · Department of Sciences

BSc.(Hons) Uni Sydney, PhD Uni Queensland
Conservation Genetics and BioBanking

About

51
Publications
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Introduction
Joanna M Sumner currently works in the Sciences Department, Museums Victoria. Joanna does research in Zoology, Molecular Ecology and Conservation Genetics.

Publications

Publications (51)
Article
The Australasian region is home to the most diverse elapid snake radiation on the planet (Hydrophiinae). Many of these snakes have evolved into unique ecomorphs compared to elapids on other continents; however, their venom compositions are poorly known. The Australian elapid Hoplocephalus stephensii (Stephen’s banded snake) is an arboreal snake wit...
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Much attention is paid in conservation planning to the concept of a species, to ensure comparability across studies and regions when classifying taxa against criteria of endangerment and setting priorities for action. However, various jurisdictions now allow taxonomic ranks below the level of species and nontaxonomic intraspecific divisions to be f...
Article
The alpine she-oak skink Cyclodomorphus praealtus is a threatened alpine endemic lizard from the mainland of Australia. The species is previously known from disjunct populations in Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales and three isolated localities in the Victorian Alps. The New South Wales and Victorian populations represent separate evoluti...
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Global biodiversity loss is a profound consequence of human activity. Disturbingly, biodiversity loss is greater than realized because of the unknown number of undocumented species. Conservation fundamentally relies on taxonomic recognition of species, but only a fraction of biodiversity is described. Here, we provide a new quantitative approach fo...
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Our knowledge of the conservation status of reptiles, the most diverse class of terrestrial vertebrates, has improved dramatically over the past decade, but still lags behind that of the other tetrapod groups. Here, we conduct the first comprehensive evaluation (~92% of the world's ~1714 described species) of the conservation 1 Joint senior authors...
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Background: The relative influence of diet and phylogeny on snake venom activity is a poorly understood aspect of snake venom evolution. We measured the activity of two enzyme toxin groups - phospholipase A2 (PLA2), and L-amino acid oxidase (LAAO) - in the venom of 39 species of Australian elapids (40% of terrestrial species diversity) and used li...
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Australia hosts approximately 10% of the world's reptile species, the largest number of any country. Despite this and evidence of widespread decline, the first comprehensive assessment of the conservation status of Australian terrestrial squamates (snakes and lizards) was undertaken only recently. Here we apply structured expert elicitation to the...
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We characterize geographical variation in the genetics, ecology, morphology and plumage of the Hooded Plover Charadrius cucullatus, a threatened shorebird widespread on coasts (south-east) and saltlakes (south-west) across the southern mainland of Australia. We confirm the distinctness of populations on either side of the Nullabor Plain/Great Austr...
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Cryptic lineages, comprising species complexes with deep genetic structuring across the landscape but without distinct morphological differences, impose substantial difficulties for systematists and taxonomists in determining true species diversity. Here, we present an integrative approach that combines data from phylogeography and geometric morpho...
Article
- Morphologically cryptic taxa have proved to be a long-standing challenge for taxonomists. Lineages that show strong genomic structuring across the landscape but are phenotypically similar pose a conundrum, with traditional morphological analyses of these cryptic lineages struggling to keep up with species delimitation advances. Micro X-ray comput...
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Taxonomic research is of fundamental importance in conservation management of threatened species, providing an understanding of species diversity on which management plans are based. The grassland earless dragon lizards (Agamidae: Tympanocryptis) of southeastern Australia have long been of conservation concern but there have been ongoing taxonomic...
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The striped legless lizard, Delma impar, is a specialist grassland species restricted to south-eastern Australia. Anthropogenic influences have seen the destruction of much of its habitat and the species is threatened with extinction. Known populations of D. impar in Canberra (Australia) have recently been cleared for urban development. In 2015, Bu...
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Our aim was to develop a widely available educational program in which students conducted authentic research that met the expectations of both the scientific and educational communities. This paper describes the development and implementation of a citizen science project based on DNA barcoding of reptile specimens obtained from the Museums Victoria...
Data
Collection data for specimens investigated in the project with attributions to contributing students and PhD scientist mentors. (PDF)
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Aim To develop a robust phylogeny for the iconic Australian water skinks (Eulamprus) and to explore the influence of landscape evolution of eastern Australia on phylogeographic patterns. Location Eastern and south‐eastern Australia. Methods We used Sanger methods to sequence a mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) locus for 386 individuals across the five Eu...
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Rotational logging practices are used with the goal of reducing forest disturbance impacts on biodiversity. However, it is poorly understood whether such forest management practices conserve the demographic and genetic composition of animal populations across logged landscapes. Here we investigated whether rotational logging practices alter pattern...
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Species endemic to sky island systems are isolated to mountain peaks and high elevation plateaux both geographically and ecologically, making them particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Pressures associated with climate change have already been linked to local extinctions of montane species, emphasizing the importance of understa...
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To understand factors shaping species boundaries in closely related taxa, a powerful approach is to compare levels of genetic admixture at multiple points of contact, and determine how this relates to intrinsic and extrinsic factors, such as genetic, morphological and ecological differentiation. In the Australian Alps, the threatened alpine bog ski...
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In response to a paper advocating large-scale, multi-species 'fauna-rescue' programs when habitat is being destroyed, we urge caution by highlighting the lack of evidence of success in such programs. We argue that any benefits are likely to be outweighed by ecological and animal welfare risks, and that any conservation gains are likely to be illusi...
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Two pervasive and fundamental impacts of urbanization are the loss and fragmentation of natural habitats. From a genetic perspective, these impacts manifest as reduced genetic diversity and ultimately reduced genetic viability. The growling grass frog (Litoria raniformis) is listed as vulnerable to extinction in Australia, and endangered in the sta...
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Museum collections of preserved faunal specimens are immensely valuable resources for understanding the natural world, and such understanding has a crucial role to play during the current biodiversity extinction crisis. Collections of specimens, and the benefits accrued by collections, are not static; new and fresh specimens, or specimens from unco...
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AimAcross eastern Australia, mountain ranges (the Great Dividing Range) and river catchments (the Murray–Darling Basin) are likely to have shaped the phylogeographical structure of many species. We address how such processes have influenced the phylogeography of the lace monitor, Varanus varius, a large mobile lizard. LocationEastern and south‐east...
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Historical and contemporary events are known to affect the genetic structure and diversity of species. Thus, in order to design effective conservation management strategies for threatened species, it is important to identify the processes that shaped their genetic patterns. The Striped Legless Lizard, Delma impar, is currently listed as a threatene...
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Summary We describe small-scale biological surveys conducted by a collaboration of biologists and Traditional Owners designed to build scientific knowledge of the biota in remote desert regions of Western Australia. Importantly, while science driven (including systematic survey methods), the project also incorporated Indigenous Ecological Knowledge...
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For endangered species that persist as apparently isolated populations within a previously more extensive range, the degree of genetic exchange between those populations is critical to conservation and management. A lack of gene flow can exacerbate impacts of threatening processes and delay or prevent colonization of sites after local extirpation....
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The Broad-headed snake Hoplocephalus bungaroides is one of Australia’s most endangered vertebrates. Extant populations of H. bungaroides are restricted to several geographically isolated reserves to the north, west, and south of Sydney. We analysed mitochondrial DNA from 184 specimens drawn from across the geographic range of the Broad-headed snake...
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In this study we assessed interactions among Komodo dragon Varanus komodoensis populations, individual Komodo dragons and two tick parasites Amblyomma robinsoni and Aponomma komodoense to assess variation in host-parasite aggregations. Prevalence of ticks was uniformly high (> 98%) but median tick abundance varied 3.52 fold among 9 host lizard popu...
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The human genome project has been recently complemented by whole-genome assessment sequence of 32 mammals and 24 nonmammalian vertebrate species suitable for comparative genomic analyses. Here we anticipate a precipitous drop in costs and increase in sequencing efficiency, with concomitant development of improved annotation technology and, therefor...
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Megapodes are unique in using only heat from the environment, rather than body heat, to incubate their eggs as well as the precocious independence of their chicks on hatching. Of 22 recognized species of megapodes, 9 are listed as threatened due to factors including habitat loss and fragmentation, and predation on eggs and chicks. Orange-footed Scr...
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Assessing levels of genetic diversity, connectivity and historical demography for threatened species provides important information for conservation management. We used a combination of the mitochondrial ND4 gene and seven microsatellite markers to examine both historical and recent population genetic structure and demography of the threatened alpi...
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Evolutionary potential refers to the ability for a species to maintain sufficient genetic variation to allow it to adapt to changes in its environment. The current and anticipated rapid rate of climate change, coupled with the massive anthropogenic fragmentation of formerly continuous native habitats makes the maintenance of the potential for evolu...
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Abstract Field observations of groups of the prickly forest skink, Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae (Reptilia: Scincidae), from north-eastern Australia, that consist of different sized individuals under the same log have generated speculation about the social structure and dispersal patterns of this species. A total of 411 skinks were sampled from 12 r...
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This study documents variation in maximum body size of Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis) among the four extant island populations in Komodo National Park and compares an indirect measure of deer density, the major prey item for large dragons, to differences in maximum body size among islands. The largest 15% of dragons from the large islands of...
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In species with low levels of dispersal the chance of closely related individuals breeding may be a potential problem; sex-biased dispersal is a mechanism that may decrease the possibility of cosanguineous mating. Fragmentation of the habitat in which a species lives may affect mechanisms such as sex-biased dispersal, which may in turn exacerbate m...
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We report the abundance, patterns of distribution and physical characteristics of Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) nests on Komodo Island in Indonesia. A total of 46 Komodo dragon nesting sites were identified, of these 26 nests were considered active for the 2002/2003 season. The distribution of nests coincided with large coastal valleys in nor...
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Vertebrates exhibit varied behavioural and physiological tactics to promote reproductive success. We examined mechanisms that could enable female loggerhead turtles to undertake nesting activities and maintain seasonal reproduction despite recent shark injuries of varying severity. We proposed that endocrinal mechanisms that regulate both a turtle'...
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To examine the effects of recent habitat fragmentation, we assayed genetic diversity in a rain forest endemic lizard, the prickly forest skink (Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae), from seven forest fragments and five sites in continuous forest on the Atherton tableland of northeastern Queensland, Australia. The rain forest in this region was fragmented...
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We investigated plasma hormone profiles of corticosterone and testosterone in immature hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) in response to a capture stress protocol. Further, we examined whether sex and body condition were covariates associated with variation in the adrenocortical response of immature turtles. Hawksbill turtles responded to t...
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This paper evaluates the systematic status of the Antechinus populations of northern New South Wales and southern Queensland, using a combined morphological and molecular (allozymes and mitochondrial DNA) approach. Analysis of the d-loop section of the mitochondrial DNA control region revealed two highly supported clades within A. stuartii sensu la...
Article
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Queensland, 2002. Includes bibliographical references.
Article
Dispersal, or the amount of dispersion between an individual’s birthplace and that of its offspring, is of great importance in population biology, behavioural ecology and conservation, however, obtaining direct estimates from field data on natural populations can be problematic. The prickly forest skink, Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae, is a rainfores...
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Large-scale fragmentation of rainforest occurred on the Atherton Tableland in the Australian Wet Tropics from 50 to 100 years ago, leaving numerous fragments of varying sizes. Eleven fragments (from <1 to 75 ha in area) and eight continuous-forest sites were studied to assess the effects of fragmentation on the morphology and demography of the rain...
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We examined the impact of habitat degradation (removal of surface rocks) on an endangered snake species (Hoplocephalus bungaroides, Elapidae) at 23 sites in south-eastern Australia, by quantifying the impact of rock removal on (i) the availability of suitable shelter-sites for the snakes and their major prey species (the velvet gecko, Oedura lesueu...
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This study describes genetical differences between three morphologically similar species of Antechinus in south-eastern Australia, and uses the climatic model BIOCLIM to clarify their expected geographical distributions. Allozyme electrophoresis revealed Nei’s distances of >0.2 between A. flavipes and A. stuartii and A. flavipes and A. agilis, the...

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Projects (2)
Project
The Oz Mammals Genomics initiative is developing genomic resources for Australia’s mammals, tackling wildlife genomics at a continental scale. The availability of such resources for marsupials, rodents, and bats will underpin new studies of mammal evolution and guide conservation of the Australian mammal fauna. See: https://ozmammalsgenomics.com/