Biodiversity Science and Application

Lab Head

Professor Melodie McGeoch

La Trobe University profile, publications and contact details
ISI Researcher ID F-8353-2011


Plant and animal populations and communities, in natural and managed landscapes, are changing. Some species are becoming more abundant, (e.g. pests and diseases). Others are becoming more rare and are disappearing from local landscapes. These changes are a result of interactions between climate change, biological invasion and habitat transformation. In order to secure biodiversity and ecosystems and their contribution to human well being, our research measures and models the abundance and distribution of species, turnover in communities and what this means for ecosystem services. Our research advises environmental policy and management. We work at scales from protected areas to continents and globally, on plants, birds, insects and microbes, and from Australia to the Antarctic.

The role of common species in biodiversity change and function

Common species are often iconic and play important roles in maintaining resilient ecosystems. We study how common species change across regions and how this affects the functions that biodiversity provides across natural and managed landscapes. Our research includes problem species on the increase and common native species in rapid decline. We are developing new theory and improved biodiversity models for quantifying the dynamics of common species and their contribution to sustaining life on land.

Biodiversity observation networks and sustainable knowledge management

Bioindicator systems assess and monitor biodiversity performance and ecosystem policy worldwide. Biodiversity informatics and Essential Biodiversity Variables research aim to design and deliver policy-relevant information that is findable, accessible, interoperable and retrievable by countries, policy makers and researchers. Our research, with worldwide collaboration, builds and supports country-level Biodiversity Observation Networks and biodiversity information systems (  We identify minimum data sets that are scientifically robust with uncertainty measures, for example, for assessing and monitoring the state of biological invasion states at sub-national to global scales.

Analysing and predicting biodiversity change

Changes in species population and ecological communities composition affect human wellbeing in many ways – including plant productivity via plant pollinators, natural enemy networks, disease, and soil function. Our research uses properties of  presence-absence data to design metrics and methods to estimate species abundance from occupancy, scale species distributions, quantify multispecies compositional change and its drivers (multi-site generalized dissimilarity modelling) for species and interaction networks.

Antarctic science for a sustainable future

Our research for Securing Antarctica’s Environmental Future (SAEF) on biodiversity status and trends uses downscaled climate and environmental information, novel biodiversity data, and integrated biological and geochemical proxies, to produce transformative insights about the structure, function and drivers of biodiversity across the region. We inform conservation planning and provide a scientific basis for Antarctica's environmental stewardship. For more information on SAEF see:

For more information about research in the McGeoch lab, visit the group's external website.