Dr Malte Ebach
ebach_portrait
Role: 
Deputy Director of PANGEA (Student Program) | Senior Lecturer
Field of Research: 
Australasian Biogeography and Biological Classification
Contact details:
Phone: 
+61 2 9385 2008
Office: 

Room 646, D26 Building
UNSW, Kensington 2052

See also:

http://mcebach.net/

https://research.unsw.edu.au/people/dr-malte-ebach

Austral Bioregionalisation Atlas

 

Research & Current Projects


RESEARCH INTERESTS

Australasian biogeography and bioregionalisation

Comparative biogeography of biotic areas

Development of biogeographical methods

History of biogeography and biological systematics

Natural classification in the biological and Earth sciences

CURRENT PROJECTS

Biogeography

BIOGEOGRAPHY OF THE GREAT DIVIDING RANGE (MASTERS / PHD)

What is driving biotic isolation along the Great Dividing Range?

This project will investigate the geomorphological, climatic and neotectonic factors driving biotic isolation along the Great Dividing Range in eastern Australia. This includes finding aggregate biogeographical patterns among plants and animals and comparing these against physical data using geo-spatial tools. Patterns will be tested against existing geomorphological and neotectonic hypotheses in order to determine the biotic evolution of eastern Australia.

Requirements: We seek a domestic science graduate with first class honours or Masters degree (or equivalent) in the biological and/or Earth sciences. Any training/qualification in geomorphology is a bonus, while biology only graduates will be required to do additional courses in Earth science.

DEVONIAN PALAEOBIOGEOGRAPHY (MASTERS / PHD)

Are we able to use modern biogeographical techniques to reconstruct the past?

As palaeontologists are using more modern systematic methods, a greater number of cladograms and spatial information are being generated. This project aims to synthesise this information into a series of palaeogeographical reconstructions that attempt to explain the biotic and geological evolution of the Devonian shoreline of eastern Australia using both vertebrate and invertebrate fossil groups as well palaeogeography. The project will use both cladistic software and geospatial techniques.

Requirements: We seek a domestic science graduate with first class honours or Masters degree (or equivalent) in the biological and/or Earth sciences. Any training/qualification in palaeontology is a bonus, while biology only graduates will be required to do additional courses in Earth science.

Systematics

SEQUENCING SYNAPOMORPHIES: EXPLORING MOLECULAR HOMOLOGY (HONS / MASTERS)

Can different amounts of the same molecular data generate the same phylogenetic trees?

Students are expected to download molecular alignments from GenBank and run them using parsimony, three-item, maximum likelihood and phenetic programs (i.e., TNT, LisBeth, PAUP). Synapomorphies from the resulting trees will be compared to determine the informative characteristics that support molecular homology.

A background in systematics is a plus. Please note that BIOS3221 (assembling the Tree of Life) offers a large systematic component in Semester 2, 2014.

Requirements: Please see the UNSW requirements for Honours.

MOLECULAR CLOCKS AND THE FOSSIL RECORD (HONS / MASTERS)

Can we really tell the evolutionary time?

Molecular clocks and stratophenetics have been used over 40 years to estimate divergence times between organisms. This project will investigate five types of clocks, their origins and implementation. Students are expected to write a summary literature review as well as develop an equation for Fossil Record Exploration (FRE). The resulting FRE equation will be utilised to compare molecular clocks and stratophenetics equally in order to determine the viability and predictability of each method using both hypothetical and real examples.

A background in systematics is a plus. Please note that BIOS3221 (assembling the Tree of Life) offers a large systematic component in Semester 2, 2014.

Requirements: Please see the UNSW requirements for Honours.

History of Science

THE HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF CLADISTICS (PHD / MASTERS)

Why do we classify the world the way we do?

This project will investigate the history of cladistic theory from early 20th Century systematic morphology to the respective numerical and molecular revolutions of the 1970s and 1990s. The project will revise David Hull's history in context to both an internal history of systematic ideas and an external history of the development of the Modern Synthesis. A philosophy of cohesive social groups will also be investigated.

Requirements: We seek a domestic science/medicine graduate with first class honours or Masters degree (or equivalent) in the biological and/or palaeo sciences. Any training/qualification in history or philosophy is a bonus, while science only graduates will be required to do additional courses in histography and philosophy.

Scholarships: Applicants are encouraged to apply for an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) or similar.

HONOURS PROJECT

HOW GREAT IS THE GREAT DIVIDING RANGE?

Spanning 400 kilometres from Cape York to the Grampians, the Great Divide is the largest geographical barrier in Australia that separates the wet coastal floras and faunas from the dry interior.

How old is the Great Divide and how long has it been a biogeographical barrier?

By using bioregionalisation and phylogenetic methods it will be possible to date the age of the barrier and identify the main groups of plants and animals that are affected by the Great Divide.

Comparing these results with palaeo-reconstructions it is possible to understand the evolution of biota in Eastern Australia.

IN THE MEDIA

The Conversation - “What is Biogeography?” 3rd December 2012

  

Research Students


CURRENT

Tegan Vanderlaan (PhD candidate) – Systematics of Carboniferous and Permian trilobites of Australia

  

Teaching


GEOS3071 Life on a Dynamic Earth (Course Convenor)

BIOS3221 Assembling the Tree of Life (Lecturer)

GEOS1211 Environmental Earth Science (Lecturer)

 

Publications

See https://research.unsw.edu.au/people/dr-malte-ebach/publications


Ebach, M.C., Gill, A.C., Kwan, A., Ahyong S.T., Murphy, D.J. & Cassis, G. (2013). Towards an Australian Bioregionalisation Atlas: A Provisional Area Taxonomy of Australia’s Biogeographical Regions. Zootaxa, 3619: 315-342.

Parenti, L.R. & Ebach, M.C. (2013). Evidence and hypothesis in biogeography. Journal of biogeography, 40, 813–820.

Ebach, M.C. (2012). A History of Biogeographical Regionalisation in Australia. Zootaxa, 3392: 1-34 [in the 10 most-accessed papers in Zootaxa for July 2012].

di Virgilio, Laffan, S., Ebach, M.C. (2012). Fine scale quantification of floral and faunal breaks and their geographic correlates, with an example from south-eastern Australia. Journal of Biogeography, 39: 1862–1876.

Parenti, L.R. & Ebach, M.C. (2009). Comparative Biogeography: Discovering and Classifying Biogeographical Patterns of a Dynamic Earth. University of California Press, Berkeley [Winner of the Smithsonian’s Secretary Prize, 2010].

Williams, D.M. & Ebach, M.C. (2008). Foundations of Systematics and Biogeography. Springer, New York.

Ebach, M.C., Morrone, J.J. Parenti, L.R. & Viloria Á.L. (2008). International Code of Area Nomenclature. Journal of Biogeography, 35: 1153–1157.

Escalante, T., Rodríguez, G., Cao, N. Ebach, M.C. & Morrone, J.J. (2007). Cladistic biogeographic analysis suggests a Caribbean diversification prior to the Great American Biotic Interchange and the Mexican Transition Zone. Naturwissenschaften, 94: 561-565.

Ebach, M.C. & Goujet, D. (2006). The first Biogeographical Map. Journal of Biogeography, 33: 761-769.

Ebach, M.C. & Holdrege, C. (2005). DNA Barcoding is no substitute for taxonomy. Nature, 434: 697.