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Dr. Ashley Field

Dr. Ashley Field

Senior Botanist

PhD, James Cook University, QLD

BSc (Hons), James Cook University, QLD


E2.203G, Sir Robert Norman Building (E2), James Cook University, PO Box 6811, Cairns QLD 4870


+61 (0)7 4232 1624



My research program investigates the evolution, systematics, niche-specialisation, rarity conservation biology and extinction in ferns, lycophytes and vascular epiphytes in the Wet Tropics, Australia. My primary research focus is on aspects of the evolution, systematics, conservation biology and human use of the genus Phlegmariurus (Lycopodiaceae) globally. I am the curator of fern and lycopod families at the Australian Tropical Herbarium (CNS, Cairns) and Queensland Herbarium (BRI).

Current projects

Systematics of Australian ferns and lycophytes
Advances in molecular phylogenetic systematics enable us to improve the classification of ferns and lycophytes to better reflect their evolutionary diversification. One the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Flora of Australia 48 fern and lycophyte volume (1998), this project aims to (a) Update the classification of Australian ferns and lycophytes to the Pteridophyte Phylogeny Group family and generic classification; (b) sample all Australian fern and lycophyte species for high throughput DNA sequencing and phylogenomic analysis; (c) locate, examine and digitise type materials and original literature of all Australian fern and lycophyte species and select lectotypes where appropriate and (d) produce Australia’s first online interactive identification system to the ferns and lycophytes (contact me for a beta test version!).

Evolutionary diversification, systematics, rarity and conservation of Phlegmariurus (Lycopodiaceae).
Phlegmariurus (Lycopodiaceae) is a diverse genus of 200-300 species of epiphytic, epilithic and terrestrial herbs that occur in wet forested and montane habitats globally in the tropics and subtropics. This collaborative research programs uses molecular tools to unravel the complex diversification of Phlegmariurus globally with an overall aim to resolve our understanding of the species diversity for conservation purposes.

The evolution of niche specialisation and its relationship to rarity and evolutionary diversification.
This project studies ant-Myrmecodia and Myrmecodia-host tree specialisation, butterfly-host plant specialisation, Phlegmariurus-host tree specialisation as well as thrip-Ficus and wasp-Ficus specialisation to better understand the evolution of niche specialisation and its relationship to rarity, range and population size potential and rates of evolutionary descent and diversification.

Selected Publications

Callmander M.W., Buerki S., Zich F., Field A.R., Gallaher T (2021) Pandanus grayorum (Pandanaceae), a new species endemic to north-eastern Queensland, Australia. Australian Systematic Botany 34: 327-335. (

Rouhan G., Boullet V., Field A.R., Schuettpelz E. (2021) Three new combinations and one lectotypification of fern and lycophyte taxa from the French overseas territories. Phytotaxa 497(1): 54-56.

Field A.R. (2020) Lycopodiaceae. In: Flora of Australia. Australian Biological Resources Study, Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Canberra.

Field A.R. (2020) Classification and typification of Australian lycophytes and ferns based on Pteridophyte Phylogeny Group classification PPG I. Australian Systematic Botany 33(1): 1–102.

Field A.R., Brownsey P.J. (2020) (2700) Proposal to conserve the name Lycopodium mirabile (Phlegmariurus mirabilis) (Lycopodiaceae) with a conserved type. Taxon 6(4): 858–859.

Renner M.A.M., Field A.R. (2019) The filmy fern Hymenophyllum reinwardtii (Hymenophyllaceae) newly recorded for Australia. Telopea 22:185–191.

Field A.R., Renner M.A.M. (2019) Rediscovered or reconsidered: The presumed Extinct ferns and lycophytes of tropical Queensland, Australia. Australian Systematic Botany 32: 111–122.

Brownsey P.J., Perrie L.R., Field A.R. (2019) Taxonomic notes on the New Zealand flora: lectotypes in Dryopteridaceae and Nephrolepidaceae. New Zealand Journal of Botany 57(1): 32–38.

Perrie L.R., Shepherd L.D., Field A.R., Brownsey P.J. (2019) Morphological and genetic evidence for the separation of Phlegmariurus billardierei from P. varius (Lycopodiaceae). New Zealand Journal of Botany 58: 118–128.

Silcock J.L., Field A.R., Walsh N.G., Fensham R.J. (2019) To name those lost: assessing extinction likelihood in the Australian vascular flora. Oryx 54:167–177.

Testo W.L., Field A.R., Sessa E.B., Sundue M. (2019) Phylogenetic and Morphological Analyses Support the Resurrection of Dendroconche and the Recognition of Two New Genera in Polypodiaceae Subfamily Microsoroideae Systematic Botany 44(4): 1–16.

Field A.R. (2018) Phlegmariurus vanuatuensis (Huperzioideae, Lycopodiaceae) a new species from Vanuatu, re-circumscription of P. nummulariifolius and new combinations in PhlegmariurusPhytoKeys 109: 53–66.

Brownsey P., Perrie L.R., Field A.R. (2018) Taxonomic notes on the New Zealand flora: lectotypes in Isoetaceae and Lycopodiaceae. New Zealand Journal of Botany 56(4): 396–405.

Testo W., Øllgaard B., Field A.R., Almeida T.E., Kessler M., Barrington D. (2018b) Phylogenetic systematics, morphological evolution, and natural groups in Neotropical Phlegmariurus (Lycopodiaceae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 125: 1–13.

Bauret L., Field A.R., Gaudeul M., Rouhan G., Selosse M.-A. (2018) First insights on the biogeographic history of Phlegmariurus (Lycopodiaceae), with a focus on Madagascar. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 127: 488–501.

Testo W., Field A.R., Barrington D. (2018) Overcoming among-lineage rate heterogeneity to infer the divergence times and biogeography of the clubmoss family Lycopodiaceae. Journal of Biogeography 45(8): 1–13.

Field A.R. (2017) Arrival of Tawny Coster butterflies on the East Australian coast coinciding with the winds of Tropical Cyclone Debbie. North Queensland Naturalist 47: 28–31.

Field A.R., Testo W., Bostock P.D, Holtum J.A.M., Waycott M. (2016) Molecular phylogenetics and the morphology of the Lycopodiaceae subfamily Huperzioideae supports three genera: Huperzia, Phlegmariurus and Phylloglossum. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 94(b): 635–657.

Tree D.J., Mound L.A., & Field A.R. (2015) Host Specificity Studies on Gynaikothrips (Thysanoptera: Phlaeothripidae) Associated with Leaf Galls of Cultivated Ficus (Rosales: Moraceae) Trees. Florida Entomologist, 98(3): 880–883.

Trapnell D.W., Beasley R.R., Stacey L.L., Field A.R., Jones K.L. (2015) Characterisation of microsatellite loci for an Australian epiphytic orchid Dendrobium calamiforme, using Illumina sequencing. Applications in Plant Sciences 3 (6).

PPG I. Schuettpelz E., Schneider H., Smith A.R., Hovenkamp P., Prado J., Rouhan G., Salino A., Sundue M., Almeida T.E., Parris B., Sessa E.B., Field A.R., de Gasper A.L., Rothfels C.J., Windham M.D., Lehnert M., Dauphin B., Ebihara A., Lehtonen S., Schwartsburd P.B. Metzgar J., Zhang, L.-B., Kuo L.-Y., Brownsey P.J., Kato M., Arana M.D. (2016) A community-derived classification for extant lycophytes and ferns. Journal of Systematics and Evolution 54(6): 563–603.

Zhang L., Rothfels C.J., Ebihara A., Schuettpelz E., Le Pecheon T., Kamua P., He H., Zhou X.-M., Prado J., Field A.R., Yatskievych G., Gao X.-F. & Zhang L.-B. (2015) A global plastic phylogeny of the brake fern genus Pteris (Pteridaceae) and related genera in Pteridoideae. Cladistics 31(4): 406–423.

Trapnell D.W., Beasley R.R., Stacey L.L., Field A.R., Jones K.L. (2015) Characterisation of microsatellite loci for an Australian epiphytic orchid Dendrobium calamiforme, using Illumina sequencing. Applications in Plant Sciences 3 (6).

Field A.R. & Bostock P.D.B. (2013) New and existing combinations in Palaeotropical Phlegmariurus (Lycopodiaceae) and lectotypification of the type species Phlegmariurus phlegmaria (L.) T.Sen & U.Sen. Phytokeys 20: 33–51.

Ohlsen D.J., Field A.R. (2013) A new fern species for Queensland: Diplazium squamuligerum (Rosenst.) Parris (Woodsiaceae). Austrobaileya 9(1): 114–125.

Field A.R. (2012) Poikilogyne cordifolia (Cogn.) Mansf., a newly recorded genus and species of Melastomataceae for Australia. Austrobaileya 8(4): 613–615.

Field A.R. & Zich, F. (2012) Types of enigmatic north-Queensland orchids from the Dockrill herbarium. Austrobaileya 8(4): 696–698.

Lim W.-H., Goodger J.Q.D., Field A.R., Holtum J.A.M & Woodrow I.E. (2010) Huperzine alkaloids from Australian and southeast Asian Huperzia. Pharmaceutical Biology 48(9): 1073–1078.

Lim W-H, Goodger J.Q.D., Field A.R., Holtum J.A.M. & Woodrow I.E. (2009) Australiasian Huperzia as potential sources of Huperzine A and B. Planta Medica 75: 9.

Field A.R. & Bostock P.D. (2008) Huperzia tetrastichoides A.R.Field & Bostock (Lycopodiaceae) a newly recognised species of tassel-fern from the Wet Tropics of Queensland, Australia. Austrobaileya 7(4): 711–715.

Goodger, J.Q.D., Whincup, A.L., Field A.R., Holtum J.A.M. & Woodrow I.E. (2008) Variation in huperzine A and B in Australasian Huperzia species. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 36: 612–618.

Crozier Y.C., Jia, X.C., Yao J.Y., Field A.R., Cook J.M., Crozier R.H. (2007) Microsatellite primers for Ficus racemosa and Ficus rubiginosa. Molecular Ecology Notes 7: 57–59.

Grice, A.C., Field A.R. and McFadyen R.E.C. (2004) Quantifying the effects of weeds on biodiversity: beyond blind Freddy’s test; 14th Australian Weeds Conference Proceedings. Sindel B.M. and Johnson S.B. Eds.