Key Info

  • Position Title
    Principal Research Scientist
  • Branch
    Australian Museum Research Institute

Email Dr Don Colgan


My research is mostly focussed on gastropod and bivalve Mollusca. I am interested in their deep phylogenetic history, particularly the genetic and physiological bases underlying their major transitions in habitat or morphology, and I am interested in how their populations are responding to the environmental challenges now confronting them.

Research Interests

Defining evolutionary sustainability on the coasts of southeastern Australia

The genomics of habitat transitions in molluscs

The systematics and phylogeography of the landsnail family Charopidae

Current projects

  • Habitat transitions and invasive genotypes in the mussel genus Xenostrobus
  • The genomics of habitat transitions in gastropods
  • Intra-species phylogeography of the mussel Austromytilus rostratus in the rocky intertidal in southeastern Australia
  • The systematics of the charopid genus Gyrocochlea 


  • B.Sc. (Hons) A.N.U. 1976
  • B.Ec. A.N.U. 1986
  • Ph.D. Melb. 1980


  • 1998 - date: Principal Research Scientist, Australian Museum.
  • 1988 – 2004: Head, Evolutionary Biology Unit, Australian Museum.
  • 1982 - 1985: Postdoctoral Fellow, Research School of Biological Sciences, A.N.U.
  • 1980 - 1982: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Biological Sciences, University of Sydney.
  • 1976 - 1977: Demonstrator, School of Biological Sciences, University of Newcastle.

Current Society Membership

Publications Since 2006


  • Arques, M., Colgan, D.J. and Castro, L.R. 2014. Sequence and comparison of mitochondrial genomes in the genus Nerita (Gastropoda: Neritimorpha: Neritidae) and phylogenetic considerations among gastropods. Marine Genomics 15, 45-54.
  • Hobbs, M., Pavasovic, A., King, A.G., Prentis, P.J., Eldridge, M.D.B., Chen, Z., Colgan, D.J., Polkinghorne, A., Wilkins, M.R., Flanagan, C., Gillett, A., Hanger, J., Johnson, R.N. and Timms, P. 2014. A transcriptome resource for the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus): insights into koala retrovirus transcription and sequence diversity. BMC Genomics 2014, 15:786 doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-786


  • Colgan, D.J., and Da Costa, P. 2013. Invasive and non-invasive lineages in Xenostrobus (Bivalvia: Mytilidae). Molluscan Research 33 (4). An E-print is available as a pdf.
  • Colgan, D.J., and Da Costa, P. 2013. Recent evolutionary dynamism in three pulmonate gastropods from south-eastern Australia. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 128, 1-8. Abstract
  • Colgan, D.J., and Da Costa, P., 2013. Possible drivers of biodiversity generation in the Siphonaria of southeastern Australia. Marine Biodiversity 43, 73–85. Preview
  • Hallan A., Colgan D.J., Anderson L.C., García A., and Chivas A.R. (2013) A single origin for the limnetic–euryhaline taxa in the Corbulidae (Bivalvia). Zoologica Scripta 42, 278–287. Article


  • Shea, M., Colgan, D.J., and Stanisic, J. 2012. Systematics of the landsnail genus Gyrocochlea and relatives (Mollusca: Charopidae). Zootaxa 3585: 1–109. Preview 


  • Golding, R.E., Colgan,D.J., Nelmes. G. and Reutelshöfer, T. 2011. Sympatry and allopatry in the deeply divergent mitochondrial DNA clades of the estuarine pulmonate gastropod genus Phallomedusa (Mollusca, Gastropoda) Marine Biology 158, 159-169. Preview
  • Strong, E.E., Colgan, D.J., Healy, J.M., Lydeard, C., Ponder, W.F., and M. Glaubrecht. 2011. Phylogeny of the gastropod superfamily Cerithioidea using morphology and molecules. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 162, 43–89. Abstract
  • Colgan, D.J., and P.M. Middelfart. 2011. Mytilus mitochondrial DNA haplotypes in southeastern Australia. Aquatic Biology 12, 47-53. Abstract
  • Colgan, D.J., and S. Schreiter. 2011. Extrinsic and intrinsic influences on the phylogeography of the Austrocochlea constricta species group. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 397 44–51. Abstract


  • Holznagel, W.E., Colgan, D.J., and Lydeard, C. 2010. Pulmonate phylogeny based on 28S rRNA gene sequences: A framework for discussing habitat transitions and character transformation. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 57, 1017-1025. Abstract
  • Castro, L.R., and Colgan, D.J. 2010. The phylogenetic position of Neritimorpha based on the mitochondrial genome of Nerita melanotragus (Mollusca: Gastropoda). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 57, 918-923. Abstract
  • Phayuhasena, S., Colgan, D., Kuvangkadilok, C., Pramual, P., and Baimai., V. 2010. Phylogenetic relationships among the black fly species (Diptera: Simuliidae) of Thailand based on multiple gene sequences. Genetica 138, 633–648. Abstract


  • Colgan, D.J., O’Meally, D., and Sadlier, R.A. 2009. Phylogeographic patterns in reptiles on the New England Tablelands at the southwestern boundary of the McPherson Macleay Overlap. Australian Journal of Zoology 57, 317–328. PDF
  • Colgan, D.J., and da Costa, P. 2009. The mitochondrial DNA haplotypes of snails of the estuarine hydrobiid genus Tatea cross species and biogeographic boundaries. Marine and Freshwater Research 60, 861-872. PDF
  • Wilson, G.D.F., Humphrey, C.L, Colgan, D.J., Gray, K.-A., and Johnson, R. 2009. Monsoon-influenced speciation patterns in a species flock of Eophreatoicus Nicholls (Isopoda; Crustacea). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 51, 349 – 364. Abstract
  • Colgan, D.J., Middelfart, P., Golding, R., and Criscione, F. 2009. Monitoring the response of NSW bivalves to climate change. Final report by the Australian Museum to the Environmental Trust for Grant 2008/RD/0071. 85 pp. (Not refereed)  Available here


  • Colgan, D.J., Hutchings, P.A., and Beacham, E. 2008. Multi-gene analyses of phylogenetic relationships between Mollusca, Annelida and Arthropoda. Zoological Studies 47, 338-351. PDF and Data at Treebase Study 1970
  • Colgan D.J., and Soheili, S. 2008. Evolutionary lineages in Emballonura and Mosia bats (Mammalia: Microchiroptera) from the southwestern Pacific. Pacific Science 62, 219-231. Abstract
  • Ponder, W.F., Colgan, D.J., Healy, J.M., Nützel, A., Simone, L.R.L., and Strong, E.E. 2008. Caenogastropoda. In Ponder, W.F., and Lindberg, D.L. (eds.) Molluscan Phylogeny and Evolution. University of California Press, Berkeley. pp 331-383. 


  • Ahyong, S.T, Lai, J.C.Y., Sharkey, D., Colgan, D.J., and Ng, P.K.L. 2007. Phylogenetics of the brachyuran crabs (Crustacea: Decapoda): The status of Podotremata based on small subunit nuclear ribosomal RNA. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 42, 576 – 586. PDF and Data at Treebase Study 1784
  • Colgan, D.J., Ponder, W.F., Beacham, E., and Macaranas, J. 2007. Molecular phylogenetics of Caenogastropoda (Gastropoda: Mollusca). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 42, 717-737. Abstract and Data at Treebase Study 1698
  • Pulvers, J.N., and Colgan, D.J. 2007. Molecular phylogeography of Melonycteris in northern Melanesia. Journal of Biogeography 34, 713-723. Abstract
  • Edgecombe, G.D., Colgan, D.J., Sharkey, D. 2007. Phylogeny and biogeography of the Australasian centipede Henicops (Chilopoda: Lithobiomorpha): a combined morphological and molecular approach. Insect Systematics and Evolution 37, 241-256. Abstract


  • Colgan, D.J., and O'Meally, D. 2006. Molecular systematics: implications for phylogeny, biogeography and conservation. Pp. 851 - 871. In Merrick, J. R., Archer, M., Hickey, G.M., and Lee, M.S.Y. (eds). Evolution and Biogeography of Australasian Vertebrates. Auscipub Pty Ltd., Sydney. 942 pp.
  • Major, R.E., Gowing, G., Christie, F., Gray, M.R., and Colgan, D.J. 2006. Variation in wolf spider (Araneae: Lycosidae) distribution and abundance in response to the size and shape of woodland fragments. Biological Conservation 132, 98-108. Abstract
  • Colgan, D.J., Hutchings, P. A., and Braune, M. 2006. A multigene framework for polychaete phylogenetic studies. Organisms, Diversity and Evolution 6, 220-235. Abstract and Data at Treebase Study 1600
  • Colgan, D.J., Ponder. W. F., and Da Costa, P. 2006. Mitochondrial DNA variation in an endemic aquatic snail genus, Caldicochlea (Hydrobiidae; Caenogastropoda) in Dalhousie Springs, an Australian arid-zone spring complex. Molluscan Research 26, 8-18. Abstract  and Data at Treebase Study 1589
  • Colgan, D., Muir, G., Shea, G., and Cogger, H. The levels of intraspecific genetic differentiation among island populations of the gekkonid lizard Christinus guentheri in the Norfolk Island Complex Report 3. A survey of the terrestrial reptiles of Norfolk Island:March 2005. (For the Department of the Environment and Heritage). (Not refereed) Available here