Research fellow, Western Sydney University

Simon is an Evolutionary Ecologist interested in animal behaviour and ecological interactions. Using field and genetic tool-kits he aims to understand the interplay between whole organisms, their environment and their genes, with a particular focus on social insect organisation, photic niche shifts and pollination. He has undertaken extensive fieldwork throughout Australia, the Americas, Africa and Asia - experiences that afford key insights into the evolution and function of the natural world.

His PhD investigated allodapine bees that can switch between solitary and social lifestyles (Flinders University, Adelaide), and he then undertook a series of postdocs exploring neotropical halictine bees that are similarly social, but unusual in their habit of nocturnal foraging (Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama). This latter program developed a parallel interest in vision and led to projects exploring the molecular evolution of vision genes in nocturnal bees, blind water beetles (regressive evolution) and development of high-throughput sequencing technology and bioinformatics (University of Adelaide); skills that were subsequently applied to bee projects on differential gene expression between queen vs worker castes and social parasites vs their hosts.

Simon joined the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment (Western Sydney University) in 2017 and is currently involved in a multi-disciplinary project aimed at understanding and safeguarding the pollination services provided by Australian bees.

Experience

  • 2013–present
    Postdoctoral researcher, The University of Adelaide
  • 2015–present
    Lecturer, The University of Adelaide
  • 2017–present
    Research fellow, Western Sydney University
  • 2017–present
    Honorary senior research fellow, The University of Melbourne
  • 2005–2011
    Postdoctoral fellow, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Education

  • 2005 
    Flinders University, PhD

Publications

  • 2017
    Lack of ovarian skew in an allodapine bee and the evolution of casteless social behaviour, Ethology Ecology & Evolution
  • 2017
    Consequences of evolutionary transitions in changing photic environments, Austral Entomology
  • 2016
    Social evolution and casteless societies: needs for new terminology and a new evolutionary focus, Insectes Sociaux
  • 2015
    Evidence for social nesting in neotropical ceratinine bees, Insectes Sociaux
  • 2015
    Opsin transcripts of predatory diving beetles: a comparison of surface and subterranean photic niches, Royal Society Open Science
  • 2013
    Frequency of social nesting in the sweat bee Megalopta genalis (Halictidae) does not vary across a rainfall gradient, despite disparity in brood production and body size, Insectes Sociaux
  • 2013
    Repeated origins of social parasitism in allodapine bees indicate the weak form of Emery’s rule is widespread, but no evidence for sympatric speciation, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society
  • 2012
    Photic niche invasions: phylogenetic history of the dim-light foraging augochlorine bees (Halictidae), Proceeding of the Royal Society of London B
  • 2012
    A single origin of large colony size in allodapine bees suggests a threshold event among 50 million years of evolutionary tinkering, Insectes Sociaux
  • 2011
    The evolution of eusociality in allodapine bees: workers began by waiting, Biology Letters
  • 2010
    Nest descriptions of Megalopta aegis (Vachal) and M. guimaraesi Santos & Silveira (Hymenoptera, Halictidae) from the Brazilian Cerrado, Revista Brasileira de Entomologia
  • 2009
    Behavioural environments and niche construction: the evolution of dimlight foraging in bees, Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society
  • 2009
    Reproductive hierarchies in the African allodapine bee Allodapula dichroa (Apidae: Xylocopinae) and ancestral forms of sociality, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society
  • 2009
    Evolution of communal behavior in bees and wasps: an alternative to eusociality, Harvard University Press
  • 2008
    Phylogenetics of allodapine bees: a review of social evolution, parasitism and biogeography, Apidologie
  • 2008
    Nesting biology and social behavior of two Xenochlora bees (Hymenoptera: Halictidae: Augochlorini) from Perú, Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society
  • 2008
    Biology of a nocturnal bee, Megalopta atra (Hymenoptera: Halictidae; Augochlorini), from the Panamanian highlands, Journal of Natural History
  • 2008
    Hasinamelissa: a new genus of allodapine bee from Madagascar revealed by larval morphology and DNA sequence data, Systematic Entomology
  • 2007
    Origins of social parasitism: The importance of divergence ages in phylogenetic studies, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
  • 2007
    Social complexity in bees is not sufficient to explain lack of reversions to solitary living over long time scales, BMC Evolutionary Biology
  • 2006
    Phylogenetic analyses of life history traits in allodapine bees and social evolution, St. Petersburg University Press
  • 2006
    Nesting biology of an African allodapine bee Braunsapis vitrea: female biased sex allocation in the absence of worker-like behavioural castes, Ethology Ecology and Evolution
  • 2006
    Molecular phylogenetics of the exoneurine allodapine bees reveal an ancient and puzzling dispersal from Africa to Australia, Systematic Biology
  • 2005
    Phylogenetics of the allodapine bee genus Braunsapis: historical biogeography and long-range dispersal over water, Journal of Biogeography
  • 2005
    Brood provisioning and colony composition of a Malagasy species of Halterapis: implications for social evolution in the allodapine bees, Annals of the Entomological Society of America
  • 2004
    Molecular phylogenetics of the allodapine bee genus Braunsapis: A-T bias and heterogeneous substitution parameters, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
  • 2003
    Taxonomic description of allodapine bees from the Zanzibar archipelago genus Macrogalea (Hymenoptera: Apidae), African Entomology
  • 2002
    Sociality in the phylogenetically basal allodapine bee genus Macrogalea (Apidae, Xylocopinae): implications for social evolution in the tribe Allodapini, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society
  • 2000
    The biology of Brevineura froggatti and phylogenetic conservatism in Australian allodapine bees, Insectes Sociaux
  • 1998
    Biology of a weakly social bee, Exoneura (Exoneurella) setosa (Hymenoptera: Apidae) and implications for social evolution in Australian allodapine bees, Australian Journal of Zoology
  • 1997
    Social behaviour in an Australian allodapine bee Exoneura (Brevineura) xanthoclypeata (Hymenoptera: Apidae)., Australian Journal of Zoology
  • 1997
    Social evolution in Hymenoptera - insights from Australian allodapine bees, Proceedings of the international colloquia on social insects, volume 3-4
  • 1997
    Life cycle and sociality in an Australian allodapine bee Exoneura (Exoneurella) setosa, Proceedings of the international colloquia on social insects, volume 3-4

Professional Memberships

  • The Linnean Society of London
  • International Union for the Study of Social Insects
  • Society of Australian Systematic Biologists
  • The Royal Entomological Society
  • Australian Entomological Society

Honours

Fellow of the Linnean Society of London