Karen Bell


Ready for a day of collecting at
Refugio Los Volcanes, Bolivia.
Photo by Jesus Orozco, November 2006.


My research interests broadly include:

• Insect molecular systematics
• Phylogenetic analysis
• Population genetics
• Phylogeography
• Molecular ecology
• Speciation
• Insect biodiversity

I obtained my PhD from the University of Queensland in 2004.  My PhD research initially involved systematics and biogeography of the dung beetle genus Temnoplectron Westwood.  Further research involved more detailed phylogeography and morphometrics of four species of the genus along with bioclimatic and forest type data.  This combined study set out to determine if divergence, at the level of speciation and at the level of intraspecific genetic divergence, could be explained by historical range fluctuations or by divergence in ecological niche.
This was followed by post-doctoral research at Western Kentucky University, which included biodiversity sampling of dung beetles, along with other insects, in Ghana. This region has high levels of biodiversity that are only beginning to be documented.
Outside of the scarabs, I am also working on molecular systematics and taxonomy of the spider beetles (Ptinidae) and Anobiidae; biodiversity of herbivorous insects in relation to biogeography and host plants; and biogeography of plants.
In my current post-doctoral position at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, there is no longer a focus on scarabs, but I have maintained my interest in biogeography of the Australian continent and it's relationship to the other continents. My research includes biogeography of Acacia farnesiana, a species with a pan-tropical distribution; and biogeography of Adansonia spp. (baobabs), a genus with a distribution that defies biogeographic expectations, with the highest species richness of extant species in Madagascar, a single species in continental Africa, and a single species in northwestern Australia.


Karen L. Bell

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

Birdwood Avenue

South Yarra, Victoria 3141



E-MAIL: Karen.Bell@csiro.au


Bell, K. L., C. Moritz, et al. 2007. Comparative phylogeography and speciation of dung beetles from the Australian Wet Tropics rainforest. Molecular Ecology 16: 4984-4998.
Philips, T. K. & K. L. Bell. 2008. Attavicinus, a new generic name for the myrmecophilous dung beetle Liatongus monstrosus (Scarabaeidae : Scarabaeinae). Coleopterists Bulletin 62: 67-81.
2004.  Bell, K.L., Yeates, D.K., Moritz, C. and Monteith, G. Molecular phylogeny and biogeography of the dung beetle genus Temnoplectron Westwood (Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae) from Australia's Wet Tropics.  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 31:741-753.

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