Staff profile: Dr Nerida Wilson

Position title:
Senior Research Scientist
Marine Research
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Blogs by this author


I have left the museum. You can view my current website at Marine Biodiversity & Evolution


I became interested in a research career after being fascinated by the diversity of molluscs and what they do. My main focus is on heterobranch molluscs, which includes the colourful nudibranch sea slugs. Now I also work on many groups of animals, including fish, annelid worms, and crinoids. I also work across different habitats including Antarctica, tropical reefs, and the deep sea. 

Research Highlights

2011 Research Highlight- Journal of Experimental Biology May 214:iii, “Blinded by the light – the fantastic flash of the clusterwink snail” doi:10.1242/jeb.049742

2010 Research Highlight- Nature Dec 23: p1004, “Snail shells spread light around” doi:10.1038/4681004a

[Also reported in Australian Geographic, ABC Science (Australia), BBC News (UK), World News, Science Daily, Reuters, Wired Magazine, and numerous other articles from the USA, Australia, Russia, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia]

2009 Editors Choice, Science- 9 Jan 323(5911): p186, “Osedax, Queens of Decay”


PhD (University of Queensland, 2004)

BSc Hons (University of Queensland, 1999)

BSc (University of Melbourne, 1998) 


Research Grants

  • 2012 Lowe Family Foundation, Biology and reproduction of seadragons to inform an aquarium-based breeding program
  • 2011 Australian Biological Resources Survey, Testing taxonomic concepts with DNA in reef-associated molluscan genera: revision and origin of Australian Volutidae
  • 2011 NSF Office Of Polar Programs, Using molecular data to test connectivity and the circumpolar paradigm for Antarctic marine invertebrates
  • 2010 UC Ship Funds Panel, Population structure and gene flow in a living fossil
  • 2009 Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative to Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Bio-inspired optics: offering physical and technological insights in color and structure
  • 2008 NSF DEB Systematic Biology and Biodiversity Inventories Cluster, Collaborative research: Resolving old questions in molluscan phylogenetics with new EST data and developing general phylogenomic tools
  • 2007 UC Ship Funds Panel, Evolutionary significance of Monoplacophora
  • 2007 UCSD Senate Grant, Weedy seadragon phylogeography
  • 2005 National Geographic, Leafy seadragon phylogeography
  • 2005 Sir Mark Mitchell Foundation, Bioluminescent nudibranchs
  • 2002 Hawaiian Malacological Society Grant, Nudibranch Biology
  • 1999 Mollusc Research Grant, Malacological Society of Australasia
  • Travel Grants
  • 2008 NSF Polar Programs travel grant to X SCAR International Biology Symposium, Hokkaido, Japan
  • 2005 NSF Polar Programs travel grant to IX SCAR International Biology Symposium, Curitiba, Brazil
  • 2004 UNITAS travel grant to World Congress of Malacology, Perth, Australia
  • 2003 University of Queensland Graduate School Research Travel Award

Awards & Honours

  • 2009 Antarctic Science Career Development bursary
  • 2007 Lerner-Gray Fellowship, American Museum of Natural History
  • 2004 University of Queensland Graduate School Completion Scholarship
  • 2002 First place, Australian Electron Microscopy Society SEM calendar competition (with L. Daddow)
  • 2002 Australian Museum Postgraduate Award
  • 2001 Australian Biological Resources Study Bursary
  • 2000 Best student paper presented at Molluscs 2000 conference, Sydney, AUS
  • 2000 Woodside-AMSA scholarship for Marine Biological Workshop in Dampier, Western Australia
  • 2000 Australian Postgraduate Award


Professional Memberships

  • Society for the Study of Evolution
  • Society for Integrative & Comparative Biology
  • Australian Marine Sciences Association
  • Society of Australian Systematic Biologists
  • Association of Polar Early Career Scientists


32. Rouse, GW, Jermiin, LS, Wilson, NG, Eeckhaut, I, Lanterbecq, D, Oji, T, Young, CM, Browning, T, Cisternas, P, Helgen, LE, Stuckey, M, and Messing, CG. (2013) Fixed, free and fixed: the fickle phylogeny of extant Crinoidea (Echinodermata) and their Permian-Triassic origin. Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution 66: 161-181.

31. Jörger, KM, Norenburg, J, Wilson, NG, Schrödl M. (2012) Barcoding against a paradox? Combined molecular species delineations reveal multiple cryptic lineages in elusive meiofaunal sea slugs. BMC Evolutionary Biology 12:245

30. Hemery LG, Eléaume M, Roussel V, Améziane N, Gallut C, Cruaud C, Couloux A, Wilson NG. (2012) Comprehensive sampling reveals circumpolarity and sympatry in seven mitochondrial lineages of the Southern Ocean crinoid species Promachocrinus kerguelensis (Echinodermata). Molecular Ecology 21: 2502-2518

29. Turner, LM & Wilson, NG (2012) The Chelidonura tsurugensis-sandrana (Cephalaspidea) species complex – do reproductive decisions maintain colour polymorphism? Journal of Molluscan Studies 78: 166-172

28. Smith, S, Wilson, NG, Goetz, F, Feehery, C, Andrade, S, Rouse, GW, Giribet, G & Dunn, C. (2011). Resolving the evolutionary relationships of molluscs with phylogenomic tools. Nature 480: 364-367. Abstract

27. Schrödl M, Jörger KM & Wilson NG (2011) A reply to Medina et al. (2011): Crawling through time: Transition of snails to slugs dating back to the Paleozoic based on mitochondrial phylogenomics. Marine Genomics 4:301-303.

26. Brenzinger, B, Wilson, NG & Schrödl M (2011) 3D microanatomy of a gastropod ‘worm’, Rhodope rousei sp. nov. from southern Australia. Journal of Molluscan Studies 77: 375-387. Abstract

25. Stout, CC, Wilson, NG and Valdés, A (2011) A new species of deep-sea Dendronotus Alder & Hancock, 1845 (Mollusca: Nudibranchia) from California, with an expanded phylogeny of the genus. Invertebrate Systematics 25: 60-69. Abstract

24. Schrödl M, Jörger KM, Klussmann-Kolb A & Wilson NG (2011) Bye bye “Opisthobranchia”! A review on the contribution of mesopsammic sea slugs to euthyneuran systematics. Proceedings of the 4th International Opisthobranch workshop,Thalassas 27(2): 101-112. Abstract

23. Deheyn, DD & Wilson, NG (2011) Bioluminescent signals spatially amplified by wavelength-specific diffusion through the shell of a marine snail. Proceedings of the Royal Society, B 278: 2112-2121. Abstract

22. Wilson, NG, & Rouse, GW (2010) Convergent camouflage and the non-monophyly of ‘seadragons’ (Syngnathidae: Teleostei): suggestions for a revised taxonomy of syngnathids. Zoologica Scripta 39(6): 551-558. Abstract

21. Salmen, A, Anton, R., Wilson, NG & Schrödl, M (2010). Briarella doliaris spec. nov., a new philoblennid copepod parasite from Australia: a potential link to the Splanchnotrophidae (Copepoda, Poecilostomatoidea). Spixiana 33(1): 19-26. Abstract

20. Wilson, NG, Rouse, GW & Giribet, G (2010) Novel molecular data quantifies support for a molluscan clade Serialia (Monoplacophora+Polyplacophora). Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution 54: 187-193. Abstract

19. Holland, ND & Wilson, NG (2009) Molecular identification of larvae of a tetraphyllidean tapeworm (Platyhelminthes: Cestoda) in a razor clam; an alternative intermediate host in the life cycle of Acanthobothrium brevissime. Journal of Parasitology. 95: 1215-1217. Abstract

18. Wilson, NG, Huang, D, Goldstein, MC, Cha, H, Giribet, G & Rouse, GW (2009) Field collection of Laevipilina hylalina McLean, 1979 from southern California, the most accessible living monoplacophoran. Journal of Molluscan Studies 75: 195-197. Abstract

17. Wilson, NG, Schrödl, M & Halanych, KM (2009) Ocean barriers and glaciation: evidence for explosive radiation of mitochondrial lineages in the Antarctic sea slug Doris kerguelenensis (Mollusca, Nudibranchia). Molecular Ecology 18: 965-984. Abstract

16. Rouse, GW, Wilson, NG, Goffredi, SK, Young, CM & Vrijenhoek, RC (2009) Spawning and metamorphosis of Osedax boneworms. Marine Biology 156: 395-405. Abstract

15. Holland, ND, Campbell, T, Holland, LZ and Wilson, NG. (2009) The Florida amphioxus (Cephalochordata) hosts larvae of the tapeworm Acanthobothrium brevissime: natural history, anatomy and taxonomic identification of the parasite. Acta Zoologica 90: 75-86. Abstract

14. Salmen, A, Wilson, NG & Schrödl, M (2008) Scanning electron microscopical description and biology of three new endoparasitic Ceratosomicola species from tropical Indo-Pacific nudibranch hosts. Spixiana 31 (1): 47-69. Abstract

13. Turner, LM & Wilson, NG (2008) Paraphyly across oceans: a molecular phylogeny of the Chromodorididae (Mollusca, Nudibranchia). Zoologica Scripta 37: 23-42. Abstract

12. Wilson, NG and Willan, RC (2007) Hypselodoris jacksoni, a new species from the south-western Pacific Ocean (Nudibranchia: Chromodorididae), with a discussion on intraspecific variation in mantle glands in Chromodoris willani Rudman, 1982. Zootaxa 1549: 29-42. Abstract

11. Wilson, NG, Belcher, RL, Lockhart, SJ and Halanych, KM (2007) Multiple lineages and an absence of panmixia in the ‘circumpolar’ crinoid Promachocrinus kerguelensis in the Atlantic sector of Antarctica. Marine Biology 152(4): 895-904. Abstract

10. Wilson, NG (2006) New record of the nudibranch Polycera hedgpethi Marcus, 1964 in South Australia, with a discussion on its occurrence in Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Suppl. 69: 137-140. Abstract

9. Loh, W, Cowlishaw, M, and Wilson NG (2006) Diversity of Symbiodinium dinoflagellates from the Indo-Pacific sea slug Pteraeolidia ianthina (Gastropoda, Mollusca). Marine Ecology Progress Series 320: 177-184. Abstract

8. Wilson, NG and Healy, JM (2006) Basal chromodorid sperm ultrastructure (Mollusca, Gastropoda, Nudibranchia). Zoomorphology 125: 99-107. Abstract

7. Wilson, NG & Lee, MSY (2005) Molecular phylogeny of Chromodoris (Mollusca, Nudibranchia) and the identification of a planar spawning clade. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 36(3): 722-727. Abstract

6. Wilson, NG (2005) Sperm ultrastructure of the Actinocyclidae (Mollusca, Nudibranchia) and homology of the terminal region of nudibranch sperm. Invertebrate Reproduction and Development, 47(1): 1-9. Abstract

5. Wilson, NG (2005) Site fidelity in mariametrid crinoids from southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia. Coral Reefs, 24(1): 99-101. Abstract

4. Wilson, NG (2003) Australian Aphelodoris (Mollusca: Nudibranchia): two new species, sperm ultrastructure and a redescription of Aphelodoris greeni Burn. In: F. E. Wells and D. I. Walker (eds), The Marine Flora and Fauna of Dampier, Western Australia. Western Australian Museum, Perth. Volume 2: 563-587. Abstract

3. Wilson, NG & Healy, JM (2002) Is Cadlinella ornatissima a chromodorid? – sperm ultrastructure in an enigmatic nudibranch. Invertebrate Reproduction and Development, 42(2-3): 179-188. Abstract

2. Wilson, NG (2002) Spawn masses of chromodorid nudibranchs (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Opisthobranchia). Malacologia, 44(2): 289-305. Abstract

1. Wilson, NG & Healy JM (2002) Comparative sperm ultrastructure in five genera of the nudibranch family Chromodorididae (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Opisthobranchia). Journal of Molluscan Studies, 68: 133-145. Abstract