Be a contributor

JCU invites users of this site to offer constructive suggestions and we invite anyone who finds a plant or animal that should be included, to submit a good digital photograph and location details to the to the Discover Nature team. All material used will be acknowledged.

Initial contributors to Discover Nature

Although this website was initiated by Betsy Jackes and Cheryl Robertson, many others have actively contributed in various ways. The site would not have eventuated without all the assistance willingly provided.

After BSc (Hons) and Dip. Ed. From Melbourne University, John Anderson taught for 20 years in various Victorian secondary schools. During this period he was assigned to the Ministry for the Environment (Victoria) producing media and teaching resources centred around land capability, dryland salinity and coastal land use. With the onset of the computer age John gained a Grad. Dip. Computing from Deakin University and concentrated on teaching in the IT area. When teaching became less fun, John moved north and joined what became Information Technology and Resources at JCU. After several years in support and application development John was appointed JCU Web Manager in 2000. Living on Magnetic Island and cycling to work from the ferry, he lists sea-kayaking, scuba diving and photography among his hobbies. Now retired but still living on Magnetic Island and indulging his passions!

Ant Backer graduated from JCU in 2001 where he studied Botany and Zoology. He spends his spare time in the Wet Tropics rainforest whenever possible photographing the amazing fauna of that region and enjoying the innumerable great camping spots..

Dr Greg Calvert is a former biology graduate student from James Cook University. During the period 1990-2005, Greg maintained very strong connections to the University and took a keen interest in the flora and fauna of the Townsville campus. Greg inspired a generation of students with his enthusiasm for biology, removed numerous problem snakes from campus buildings and propagated and planted hundreds of native trees from seed collected on campus. Greg provided all the initial lists of fauna as well as many photographs of the fauna of the Douglas campus. His observations covered a period of 13 years. Currently works as an environmental consultant in Townsville.

Michael Cermak a is a professional zoologist and wildlife photographer. Living and working with animals in North Queensland for twenty five years has given Michael a unique opportunity to build up an impressive photo library. He has MSc degree in zoology from JCU, and uses his knowledge and experience in his current profession as a nature photographer. Michael has published widely in scientific and natural history publications in Australia as well as overseas and recently produced a series of six books on Australian wildlife with Steve Parish Publishing. Michael is a regular contributor to the Asian Geographic Magazine where he publishes material drawn from his many visits to the island of Borneo. Although wildlife photography is Michael’s strongest interest, he also photographs landscapes, flora and people. He lives in Cairns.

The JCU palm expert, John graduated from JCU with a PhD in Botany in 2001. Dr Dowe is a botanist researching the ecology of riparian [stream edge] vegetation. He is associated with the Australian Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research, at James Cook University, Townsville. Dr Dowe’s PhD involved an analysis of Australia’s largest genus of palms, Livistona, investigating reproductive biology, taxonomy, biogeography and phylogeny. This work has since been published. Apart from ecological research, Dr Dowe specialises in the study of Australian and New Guinea palms, having described over 25 species and producing a number of major monographs, including the treatment of palms in the Flora of Australia series. He has recently published the definitive book on "Australian Palms", CSIRO 2010. He is now living in Cairns and writing up some of the local flora. He is associated with the Australian Tropical Herbarium.

Lauryne Grant has been responsible for the preparation and insertion of many of the photographs, as well as contributing information and ideas. She has her PhD from James Cook University, looking at the Biodiversity, Biogeography and Phylogeny of Australian Freshwater Planarians. Her research has taken her all over Australia collecting freshwater flatworms and she is currently in the process of developing both morphological and molecular phylogenies for the group. Lauryne has also worked as a tutor, research assistant and administrative assistant within the School of Marine and Tropical Biology, JCU. Currently working in Melbourne.

Born in Bingara NSW, Betsy Jackes is a graduate of the University of New England and the University of Chicago, which she attended as a post-graduate Fulbright awardee. She has been a full time faculty member of James Cook University since 1974. In addition to teaching various botanical subjects, particularly systematics, she has been Dean of the Faculty of Science and Head of Tropical Plant Sciences. Her research interests have been in the systematics and ecology of the tropical flora. Currently retired she is still involved in some teaching, in research and in patchwork and quilting type activities. Betsy is involved with U3AOnline as well as having written the course on Australian Flora and revamped the course on Botany. The third edition of Plants of Magnetic Island has been recently published in several formats.

She now runs an Online subject on Plant Taxonomy for postgraduate and advanced undergraduate students, entitled “Australian land Plants”.

Mick Jackes is a graduate of JCU with a major in Indonesian. He spent most of his working life as an Air Traffic controller. Mick has a keen interest in the environment and has participated in numerous biological field trips. Mick has been responsible for a number of the photographs. He has also been responsible for maintenance of photographs on the site.

Dr Darrell Kemp completed his PhD at James Cook University in 2002, and has since pursued postdoctoral research at the University of Stockholm, Sweden, and Arizona State University, USA. He is generally interested in evolutionary biology, and his research is aimed at understanding why male and female animals differ in many aspects of their behaviour and appearance. Dr. Kemp has studied a range of animals, including fish, lizards and insects, but focuses primarily on tropical butterflies because these animals offer excellent opportunities for studying evolution. He has authored over 40 refereed scientific publications, numerous popular articles, and presented findings at conferences throughout Australia, Europe and North America. Until recently Dr. Kemp was an Australian Research Council funded research fellow, based at James Cook University, Cairns. He is now in Sydney.

Ray Lloyd is currently employed as a Wildlife Ecologist with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, based at Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary in the Central Kimberley, Western Australia. Ray has had a life long interest in reptiles and amphibians, in particular the biology and ecology of elapid snakes, varanid lizards, pygpodid lizards, and also reptile taxonomy. In 2006 he completed a BSc (Honours) at James Cook University, documenting the predatory effects of goannas (Varanus spp.) on three sympatric skinks (Carlia spp.) on Hinchinbrook Island. With six scientific publications and plenty more on the way, Ray is now involved with research on the effects of fire and grazing on the health, abundance and diversity of species in the Kimberley and areas of the Northern Territory.

Ian Montgomery has been bird-watching since his boyhood in Ireland. As a Zoology graduate of Trinity College Dublin, he came to Australia in 1971 and did a Ph.D. in animal behaviour at Sydney University. He then followed a career in computing until, in 1993, he got the opportunity to combine zoology and computing in fisheries modelling and stock assessment. In 2003, Ian took early retirement from James Cook University in Townsville, North Queensland, where he still lives, to concentrate on bird photography. He travels Australia and the world observing and photographing birds. See more about Ian and his extensive galleries of bird photographs at

Jen Parsons completed her BSc. (Hons) at James Cook University in 2005 majoring in Zoology. She worked on the movement and foraging ecology of Australian flying foxes for her PhD. Her research interests include: plant and animal interactions, dietary analysis and the ecology, behaviour and evolution of bats. Now in Brisbane at UQ.

Tony Roberts and Stuart Worboys are both graduates of JCU, they have tutored in Botany at JCU – Cairns, as well they are active members of SGAP, and have been employed as botanical consultants and environmental tour guides. Tony and Stuart were responsible for revising the plant species list for the Smithfield campus as well they are responsible for a number of the photographs. Tony is now associated with the Flecker/Cairns Botanic Gardens and Stuart divides his time between being at the Australian Tropical Herbarium in Cairns and running courses in rainforest Identification, and being an environmental consultant.

Cheryl Robertson realised the need for a website to highlight the biodiversity of the James Cook University campuses. From her ideas and enthusiasm this website grew. Cheryl graduated from JCU with a BA and subsequently worked for Government departments in Western Australia and Queensland, and for a Federal Government Minister, before returning to Townsville and JCU to provide support services for international students. In 2005 she set up the office of JCU Students Abroad and is now responsible for outward mobility, sending domestic students around the world for a semester abroad. Photography and nature study are her leisure interests and she loves the biodiversity to be found on the JCU campuses. She has now retired so as to concentrate on photography, particularly of birds.

Since graduating from JCU in 2003, Paul Thuesen has been involved in numerous projects focusing on the ecology and evolutionary biology of tropical freshwater fishes. Paul is currently on a pest fish project, in collaboration with the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI&F) and the Invasive Animals CRC. He has a PhD undertaken a PhD at JCU Cairns. He investigated mechanisms that lead to patterns of diversity in Australian tropical freshwater fishes.

Peter Valentine is an expert on butterflies, their ecology and conservation. His main research interests relate to management issues for protected areas and related nature conservation issues. He is particularly interested in the interaction between visitors and the natural environment; and on the use of ecotourism to support conservation and development especially in poorer countries in the Asia-Pacific region. He is a consultant for many World Heritage Organisations, particularly on issues involving Queensland.

Dr Alan Webb is a fish ecologist with extensive experience of native and non-native freshwater fishes in northern Queensland. He completed his MSc in 1994 and PhD in 2004 at James Cook University, School of Tropical Biology, on the ecology of non-native fishes, especially tilapia. He is currently working with the Australian Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research (ACTFR) at James Cook University, on further research into the impacts and management of tilapia in the region, and is collaborating with researchers in the School of Engineering on the development of efficient culvert fishways. He is now based in Brisbane.

Heather Winsor and John Seale are members of the Birdscairns group, an active group of bird observers based in Cairns. They provided information regarding birds found on the Smithfield campus.

Judy Winstanley has stated that she is the ‘CMS expert dragon’; she also happens to be a very helpful person who is interested in the biodiversity of the campuses. Now retired and living in Townsville.

Other contributors:

Many people have contributed to this site and their assistance is greatly appreciated.

Sandra Abell, fungi; Ross Alford, reptiles, Michael Braby, butterflies; Graeme Cocks, butterflies; Chris Gardiner, weeds and field sites; Len Ezzy, cartographer and bird observer, member of BOCA; Members of the Townsville Region Bird Observers Club; Brett Goodman, reptiles Cairns; Vern Veitch, fish; Gary Wilson, botanist and Leigh Winsor, flatworms.

Photographs or information on some of the Field Study sites were contributed by : Ross Alford, Orpha Bellwood, Kylie Brown, Andi Cairns, Robert Congdon, Paul Gadek, Chris Gardiner, Miriam Goosems, Lindsay Harrington, Robert Henderson, Joe Holtum, Bill Jeffery, Geoff Jones, Berndt Lottermoser, Jon Luly, Lania Lynch, Mark McCormick, Paul Nelson, Simon Robson, Pat Williams; Third year Botany students.