Schwartz Lab Chronicles

Mike Schwartz was a previous lab head in the LEGS lab who retired in 2022. Mike’s interest in sociality focused on Australian bee’s that displayed a range of social systems. His work extended to other systems such as wasp’s and included studies in Fiji. The following content from this website is has been condensed here for prosterity.

MPSchwarz photo small

Associate Professor Michael Schwarz

I did my Honours and PhD at Monash University and then moved to La Trobe University for a series of postdocs.  I moved to Flinders University in 1993 and established a research team that focused on social evolution in insects.  My research interested gradually expanded into the use of molecular tools to investigate social evolution, trait evolution, historical biogeography, historical demography as a function of climate, conservation, effects of exotic bee species in island ecosystems, and island biogeography.  Some of our most recent foci involve transcriptomics of insect sociality, mitogenomics of bees, the dispersal of bees throughout the South West Pacific and the role of Quaternary climate cycles as drivers of speciation on tropical archipelagos. For more information please visit my Flinders University, Google Scholar or ResearchGate profile, or to contact, click here.

Previous lab members

Lucas Hearn (September 2018 – current)

Lucas discovered a passion for insects at a young age, whilst growing up in the Adelaide Hills. He completed his Bachelor of Science at The University of Adelaide with a focus on zoology and evolutionary biology. Lucas completed his honours with A/Prof Mike Schwarz and A/Prof Mark Stevens on the social nesting behaviour of the Australian native bee Amphylaeus morosus and is now continuing that research with his PhD. He is exploring the genetic and behavioural dynamics that allow for sociality to be promoted and maintained in this unique bee species.

James Dorey (February 2018 – 2021)

James Dorey is driven by a love of nature that was first instilled in him when growing up in the Northern Rivers, amongst the rainforest regenerated by his father. This provided James with an environment rich in plant and animal life to explore. These interests were carried into his science degree where he studied ecology and zoology at the University of Queensland. James’ honours project focused on how past climate cycles may have driven speciation of highland endemic bees in Fiji. In addition to his studies, James is an avid macro photographer who loves to share his passion for nature with a broad audience in a number of publications and competitions. To see some of what James has seen and imaged feel free to have a browse here.

Olivia Davies (March 2016 – 2021)

Olivia started her honours here looking at nest-mate recognition and historical demography in a facultatively social native bee Amphylaeus morosus. She discovered that this species has no mitochondrial diversity within its whole population except for two different mitochondrial types that persist in every bee. This widespread mitochondrial heteroplasmy became the focus of her research, and she is now continuing with us, co-supervised by A/Prof Mark Stevens (SA Museum), doing her PhD on the same topic. She is exploring the connection between heteroplasmy and the intracellular parasite Wolbachia, and its prevalence in other bee species in the family. More information on Olivia’s research can be found on her ResearchGate profile.

Ben Parslow (2016 – 2020)

Ben’s current research explores the systematics and evolutionary relationships between the predator inquiline wasp genus Gasteruption and its native bee hosts. Ben has developed a strong fascination for the taxonomy and biology of these unusual wasps during his honours work and is now applying his experience with taxonomy and phylogenetics to answer questions related to host specialisation and co-phylogenetic relationships. He is supervised by A/Prof Mike Schwarz, A/Prof Mike Gardner and  A/Prof Mark Stevens.

Dr. Sandra Rehan was awarded her PhD in 2011 and is currently Assistant Professor at University New Hampshire.
Dr. Scott Groom, was awarded his PhD in 2014 and is currently holds a post doctoral position at the University of Adelaide. He was a recipient of a prestigious 2015 SA Science Excellence award.
Dr. Rebecca Dew completed her PhD in 2017 and is currently an Endeavour Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of New Hampshire.
Dr. Nahid Shokri Bousjein completed  her PhD 2018. She is currently based in Iran.
Matthew Elmer
Justin Holder
Michael Young
Sarah Hayes 
Cale Matthews
Elisha Freedman

A/Prof Mike Schwarz’s collaborators include:

Associate Professor Mark Stevens, SA Museum

Dr. Scott Groom, Kyoto University

 Ms. Carmen da Silva, University of Queensland

Dr. Daniel De Paiva Silva, Instituto Federal Goiano, Brazil

Professor Juergen Boehmer, University of the South Pacific

Dr. Sandra Rehan, University of New Hampshire

Dr. Michelle McKeown, University of the South Pacific

Mr. Marika Tuiwawa, University of the South Pacific