Professor Luciano Beheregaray

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Personal profile

Research Biography

I am the Matthew Flinders Professor of Biodiversity Genomics and Director of the Molecular Ecology Lab at Flinders University (MELFU).

Between 2020 and 2023 I acted as lead of the Research Section of Ecology, Evolution and Environment, a group of ~200 academics, postdocs and research students at Flinders University. 

In March 2022, I was awarded a Matthew Flinders Professorship for my contributions to research performance and leadership.

My main research and teaching interests are in evolution and conservation biology.

I was born and raised in Uruguaiana - a town in the Pampas grassland in Brazil. In 1986, I moved to the coast to study Biological Oceanography (BSc and Msc), ichthyology and population genetics at University of Rio Grande. In 1996, I moved to Sydney for a PhD in fish evolutionary genetics, awarded by Macquarie University in 2001.

I was a Gaylord Donnelley Environmental Research Fellow at Yale University (2001-2003) working in projects in Amazonia and the Galapagos, before returning to Australia for a tenure faculty position at Macquarie. I worked at Macquarie until 2009 as Associate Professor and head of the Molecular Ecology Lab and the Molecular Ecology Group for Marine Research (MEGMAR).

In 2009, I moved to Adelaide to establish the MELFU. To date, we have produced over 250 refereed publications and graduated 24 PhDs. My lab's alumni have secured competitive academic or research positions in the six inhabited continents, including jobs in Australia, USA, Japan, Austria, South Africa and Brazil. I offer an intellectually rich and friendly research environment to my lab members; this includes an annual lab retreat in a remote coastal beach in South Australia and several 'MELFU parties'! 

I held an 'ARC (Australian Research Council) Future Fellowship' award between 2014 and 2018, a research-only position aimed at establishing a research program on ecological genomics of fishes.

Research Interests

My work illustrates how natural history and genomics can be integrated to better understand the way organisms interact with their environment, as well as to stimulate public and government interest about the importance of managing and conserving biodiversity. I often use fish populations as indicators of environmental flow and water quality, adaptive resilience, management practices and ecosystem health.

A large component of the work carried out in my research group combines information from genomics and Earth sciences to understand the origins and evolutionary trajectories of populations, to assess the adaptive potential of populations to ongoing and predicted environmental change, and to inform conservation management.

Most of my current projects are in the areas of:

- ecological genomics: the use of genomics to assess environmental correlates and adaptive potential of biodiversity (i.e. landscape genomics - also known as seascape or riverscape genomics);

- fisheries and conservation genomics: the use of genomic knowledge to advance the management of fisheres resources and preserve threatened species;

- comparative phylogeography and speciation: the use of co-distributed datasets to infer population history and diversification;

- sociogenetics: the use of genetic data to understand kinship, parentage and social behavior;

- phylogenetics: the reconstruction of the tree of life.

I am particularly fascinated about understanding biogeographic scenarios and evolutionary processes underlying population divergence, adaptation and speciation in fishes.

For details of research programs and projects please visit this page.

Past and current research includes work on fishes from Amazonia, Patagonia, Pampas, and southern Africa, coastal dolphins, sperm whales and blue whales from the Indian and Pacific Oceans, giant tortoises from the Galapagos, sharks, rays and sea turtles from Mexico and central America, lizards from the Brazilian Cerrado; and wombats, sharks, bony fishes, molluscs, crustaceans, tunicates and sea-urchins from Australia. 

Research Funding:

> $10.3 million in competitive grants and tenders as chief investigator (CI), including 12 ARCs since 2005 (9 as lead CI). Examples include:

  • FRDC 2023-2026 "Towards healthy and sustainable freshwater fish populations" $794,000 (Duncan, Beheregaray et al.)
  • ARC Linkage. 2022-2025 "Designing successful genetic-rescue approaches for threatened species" $1.3M including industry contrib. (Bradshaw, Beheregaray et al.)
  • ARC Discovery. 2019-2021 "The evolutionary potential of fragmented and declining populations" $318,000 (Beheregaray & Bernatchez)
  • ARC Linkage. 2019-2022 "Fisheries Genomics of snapper in Australia and New Zealand" $552,000 ARC+ Industry (Beheregaray, Wellenreuther, Fairclough, Fowler, Hamer, Morgan, Stewart)
  • FishGen I, II, III and IV. 2018-2021 - Murray-Darling Basin Authority and NSW DPI. $620K across four contracts (Beheregaray & Brauer).
  • ARC Future Fellowship. 2013-2018 "Evolution, adaptation and resilience of Australian freshwater fishes" $872,000 + $200,000 University contribution (Beheregaray)
  • ARC Discovery. 2015-2017 "Comparative Evolutionary Genomics of Australian Rainbowfishes" $466,000 (Beheregaray & Bernatchez)
  • ARC Discovery. 2011-2013 "The Genomics of Adaptation to Environmental Change in an Ecologically Important Non-model Aquatic Organism" $310,000 (Beheregaray & Bernatchez)
  • ARC Discovery. 2011-2013 "History, transport, or temperature: solving the riddle of Australia's temperate marine biodiversity" $225,000 (Beheregaray, Moller & Waters)
  • ARC Linkage. 2010-2013 "Restoration Genetics of Five Endangered Fish Species from the Murray-Darling Basin" $555,000 ARC+ Industry (Beheregaray, Harris & Adams)
  • ARC Linkage. 2011-2014 "Genomics for Persistence of Australian Freshwater Fish" $805,000 ARC+ Industry (Sunnucks, Sgro, Lintermans, Beheregaray, Allendorf, Lyon & Luikart)
  • ARC Discovery. 2005-2007 "Comparative Phylogeography and Patterns of Diversification of Amazonian Fishes" $260,000 (Beheregaray)
  • ARC Linkage. 2006-2008 "Phylogeography, Conservation Genetics and Stocking Management of Perches and Basses" $287,000 ARC+ Industry (Beheregaray & Gilligan)
  • Australian Marine Mammal Centre - Australian Antarctic Division. 2010-2011 "Population size, structure and habitat preferences of common dolphins in South Australia" $330,000 (Moller et al.)

Citation Impact:

World’s Top 2% Scientist, 2020. List by Stanford University and Elsevier based on standardized citation metrics across all scientists and disciplines.

For updated citation statistics and publications you can visit my page on Google Scholar Citations

Supervised Students Successes

  • May 2017 Fabricius Domingos - Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Doctoral Thesis Excellence
  • Feb 2017 Chris Brauer - DVC-R Award for Best PhD Publication

Completed Supervisions

Principal Supervisions:
  • Molecular Ecology (14)
Associate Supervisions:
  • Molecular Ecology (4)


  • Registered

Research Areas

  • Ecology and conservation
  • Marine and coastal sciences

Supervisory Interests

  • Conservation biology
  • Evolution, aquatic animals
  • Speciation
  • Biogeography
  • Genomics


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