Prof Steve Donnellan

Chief Research Scientist Evolutionary Biology Unit

+61 8 8313 4855


Steve Donnellan came to Adelaide in 1985 from Macquarie University with a newly minted PhD for a three year Australian Research Council-funded research position in the Evolutionary Biology Unit with Peter Baverstock and Mark Adams. The project focused on recovering the evolutionary history of Australia's lizards and led to a comprehensive collection of reptile and frog tissues from Australia and New Guinea. Steve joined the Museum staff in 1990 to set up its first DNA laboratory.


Position at Other Organisation

  • Affiliate Professor, University of Adelaide


Research Interests

My research interests focus on the evolution and biogeography of the Australasian fauna. I use a range of molecular genetic methods to examine issues in the population genetics, phylogeography and phylogenetic relationships of vertebrates and selected invertebrate groups.


Current Research Projects

Phylogenomic assessment of conservation priorities in two biodiversity hotspots: The Pilbara and the Kimberley. Moritz, Keogh, Byrne, Coates, Theile, Doughty, Donnellan. 2012–2015, ARC Linkage project, $360,000.

Diversification and conservation of Australian frogs. Keogh, Donnellan, Hoskin, Rabosky. 2012–2014, ARC Discovery project, $320,000.

Seascape genetics for shark management: an innovation in sustainable fisheries modelling. Gillanders, Bradshaw, Donnellan, Huveneers. 2012–2014, ARC Linkage project, $295,000.

Taxonomic resolution of Australia’s threatened bat species. Armstrong, Donnellan, Rossiter, Helgen, Reardon, Bertozzi. 2011–2014, ABRS, $270,000.

Building sound ecological restoration strategies for endangered amphibians. Mahony, Clulow, Ward, Donnellan. 2009–2013, ARC Linkage project, $775,000.


Professional Associations

  • Member, Australian Society of Herpetologists

  • Member, Genetics Society of AustralAsia 



  • BSc (Hons), Univerity of New South Wales, Sydney (1976)

  • PhD, Macquarie University, Sydney (1985)


Current Teaching Responsibilities

Undergraduate course at the University of Adelaide:

  • Evolutionary Biology II



  1. Zemann, A., Churakov, G., Donnellan, S. C., Gruetzner, F., Fangqing, Z., Brosius, J., and Schmitz, J. (2013).  Ancestry of the Australia termitivorous numbat. Molecular Biology and Evolution 30: 1041–1045. 
  2. Murphy, R., Crawford, A., Bauer, A., Jing, C., Donnellan, S. C., Fritz, U., Haddad, C., Nagy, Z., Poyarkov, N., Vences, M., Wang, W. W., and Ya-Ping, Z. (2013).  Cold Code: The global initiative to DNA barcode amphibians and non-avian reptiles. Molecular Ecology Resources 13: 161–167. 
  3. Hagen, I., Donnellan, S. C., and Bull, M. (2012). Phylogeography of the prehensile-tailed skink Corucia zebrata on the Solomon Archipelago. Ecology and Evolution 2: 1220–1234. 
  4. Donnellan, S. C., Mahony, M.J., and Bertozzi, T. (2012). A new species of Pseudophryne (Anura: Myobatrachidae) from the central Australian ranges. Zootaxa 3476: 69–85. 
  5. Vidal N., Marin, J., Sassi, J., Donnellan, S. C., Fitch, A., Fry, B. G., Vonk, F. J., de la Vega, R., Couloux, A., and Hedges, S. B. (2012). Molecular evidence for an Asian origin of monitor lizards followed by Tertiary dispersals to Africa and Australasia.Biology Letters 8: 853–855. 
  6. Suh, A., Kriegs, J. O., Donnellan, S. C., Brosius, J., and Schmitz, J. (2012). A universal method for the study of CR1 retroposons in non-model bird genomes. Molecular Biology and Evolution 29: 2899–2903. 
  7. Donnellan, S. C., Anstis, M., Price, L., and Wheaton, L. (2012). A new species of Crinia (Anura: Myobatrachidae) from the Flinders Ranges, South Australia. Zootaxa 3499: 1–26. 
  8. Myers, S. A., Donnellan, S. C., and Kleindorfer, S. (2012). Rainfall can explain adaptive phenotypic variation with high gene flow in the New Holland Honeyeater (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae). Ecology and Evolution 2: 2397–2412. 
  9. DeBoo, M. L., Bertozzi, T., Donnellan, S. C., and Mahony, M. J. (2012). Development of eight microsatellite loci from the Green and Golden Bell Frog (Litoria aurea) through GS-FLX pyrosequencing and cross-amplification with other species of the Litoria aurea species group. Conservation Genetics Resources 4: 1003–1005. 
  10. Doughty, P., Palmer, .R, Sistrom, M. J., Bauer, A. M., and Donnellan, S. C., (2012). Two new species of Gehyra geckos from the northwest Kimberley region of Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum 27: 117–134.