Lalita Simpson

Lalita Simpson

Lalita Simpson

PhD candidate

BSc (Honours) James Cook University

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

Phone: +61 (0)7 4232 1687

Email: lalita.simpson@my.jcu.edu.au

Research

My research interests lie in the fields of plant evolution, biodiversity, phylogeography and systematics. My research focuses on the phylogeography of Australian orchid groups where I use molecular data to investigate phylogenetic relationships interpreted in geographic and chronological contexts. In my PhD project I am investigating the phylogeography of orchid groups endemic to mountain tops of Queensland’s Wet Tropics bioregion, a world biodiversity hotspot on Australia’s north east coast. Here, I investigate genetic diversity in several species groups in the genera Dendrobium and Bulbophyllum to evaluate species concepts, assess their conservation status, and reconstruct their historical biogeography to identify past refugia.

Grants & Awards

  • Australian Conservation Taxonomy Award. 2013

  • Australian Government National Environment Research Program (NERP): PhD scholarship. 2012-2014

  • PY Ladiges Award for best oral presentation by a student - Australasian Systematic Botany Society Conference: Local knowledge, global delivery.  Perth, Australia. 2012
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  • Wet Tropics Management Authority: What is at risk? Phylogeography and taxonomy of orchids endemic to Queensland’s mountain top biodiversity hotspots. 2012

  • Australian Orchid Foundation: Phylogeography and taxonomy of the Dendrobium speciosum complex. 2011

Publications

Simpson, L., Clements, M. A., Crayn, D., & Schulte, K. (2018) Evolution in Australia’s mesic biome under past and future climates: insights from phylogeographic analysis of the Australian Rock orchids (Dendrobium speciosum complex, Orchidaceae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 118, 32-46.

Costion, C. M., Simpson, L., Pert, P. L., Carlsen, M. M., John Kress, W., & Crayn, D. (2015). Will tropical mountaintop plant species survive climate change? Identifying key knowledge gaps using species distribution modelling in Australia. Biological Conservation, 191, 322–330.

Simpson, L. (2011): Mind the gap – phylogeography and taxonomy of the Dendrobium speciosum complex (Orchidaceae). Honours thesis, James Cook University.

Selected Conference Presentations


Simpson, L., Clements, M. A., Crayn, D., & Schulte, K. (2017) Phylogenomic insights into the spatio-temporal evolution of Asian and Australasian Bulbophyllum (Orchidaceae). 19th International Botanical Congress, Shenzhen, China, 25th July 2017. Talk


Simpson L., Costion C., Clements M., Pert P., Carlsen, M. M., John Kress, W., Crayn D., Schulte K.
(2015) Endemism in mountain top plant communities of Australia’s Wet Tropics: Past, present, future. Australasian Systematic Botany Society Conference: Building Our Botanical Capital, Canberra, Australia, 1st December 2015. Talk


Simpson, L., Clements, M., Costion, C., Pert, P., Crayn, D., Schulte, K. (2014) What is at risk?  
Climate impacts on Australia’s Wet Tropics mountain top plant diversity. Australasian Systematic Botany Society Conference: Next generation systematics, Palmerston North, New Zealand, 26th November 2014. Talk


Simpson, L., Costion, C., Pert, P., Crayn, D. (2014) Vanishing with the clouds: Climate change
projections infer rapid declines of mountain-top endemic plants of tropical northeast Queensland, Australia. Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation conference: The future of tropical biology and conservation, Cairns, Australia, 21st July 2014. Talk


Simpson, L., Clements, M. A., Crayn, D., & Schulte, K. (2013) Australia’s King Orchid - one species or many? A phylogeographic approch to resolving taxonomic limits. Biosyst.EU 2013 Global systematics. Vienna, Austria, 22nd February 2013. Talk.


Simpson, L., Clements, M., Crayn, D., Schulte, K. (2012) Mind the Gap: phylogeography and
taxonomy of the Dendrobium speciosum complex (Orchidaceae). Australasian Systematic Botany Society Conference: Local knowledge, global delivery, Perth, Australia, 24th September 2012. Talk