Associate Professor Trevor Worthy

Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from Scopus
1984 …2024

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research Biography

I am a leading vertebrate palaeontologist, specialising in the taxonomic circumscription and phylogenetic analyses of fossil birds of the Australasia - Pacific region with occasional forays into amphibia, reptilia and mammalia. A New Zealander, I have about 33 years research experience in New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific, beginning work in the Museum of New Zealand and then was a private investigator for many years funded by the Foundation for Science and Technology, NZ. In late 2005, I moved to Australia to Adelaide University and obtained a PhD. I then had postdoctoral positions in Sydney (2009-2011) and Adelaide (2012) before moving to Flinders University in 2013. To date I have published more than 200 peer-reviewed papers, 5 books and numerous other technical publications, and been involved as a consultant in several television documentaries.

Research Interests

Vertebrate faunas of Australia, the Pacific, and New Zealand, in particular the taxonomy and phylogenetic relationships of birds and their Tertiary and Quaternary evolutionary history, and how faunal composition responded to changes in climate and vegetation patterns over time.

  1. Oligo-Miocene avifaunas of Australia - taxonomy and phylogenetics. Current research focus on the landfowl radiation in Australia and the Pacific.
  2. Miocene fauna of New Zealand €“ description of the terrestrial vertebrates from the St Bathans Fauna, Otago, New Zealand, including frogs, squamates, birds, and mammals with several collaborators. Begun in 2001 in New Zealand and continued in Australia under various ARC Discovery projects, this research is the first major investigation of the terrestrial Miocene vertebrate faunas of NZ. Collaborating Investigators include Dr Suzanne Hand and Professor Michael Archer (University of NSW), Dr Steven Salisbury (University of Queensland), Alan Tennyson at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and Dr Paul Scofield at Canterbury Museum, Christchurch.
  3. The Quaternary avifauna of New Zealand, and how this relates to climate/vegetation, with emphases on palaeoecology and taxonomic issues. This involves collaborations with several researchers re work on moa and other birds. e.g., Drs Jamie Wood & Janet Wilmshurst, Prof. Alan Cooper  Dr Nicolas Rawlence, Otago University, especially of birds.
  4. Pacific palaeofaunas. Current projects include New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Tonga and Mangareva, to determine the original prehuman faunal composition. Work to describe these faunas and the new taxa represented is in progress with several collaborators. The New Caledonian work is with Prof. A. J. Anderson, Australian National University; the Vanuatu work with Dr Stuart Bedford, Stuart Hawkins and Professor Matthew Spriggs of ANU; Tonga with Prof David Burley Simon Fraser Univ), and Mangareva with Prof Pat Kirch (Berkeley Univ).


  • Registered

Research Areas

  • Ecology and conservation
  • Evolutionary biology and palaeontology

Supervisory Interests

  • Geological and fossil heritage
  • Birds


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