Research project: Systematics and biogeography of Australian cicadas (Cicadettini) and their relatives worldwide


Start date:

Museum investigators

External investigators

  • C.M. Simon,
  • J.R. Cooley,
  • T.R. Buckley,
  • P.A. Ritchie,

Funded by

  • National Science Foundation (NSF)


Our goal is to reconstruct the evolutionary history of the worldwide cicada tribe Cicadettini. Preliminary fieldwork suggests that a rich diversity of species remains to be discovered. We aim to provide a thorough study of how a large taxonomic group diversifies and spreads worldwide. Since the present-day center of diversity of Cicadettini is thought to be Australia, it will be useful to learn more about the timing of Australian species radiations and the relationships of these events to paleoclimate and landscape changes.

Our specific goals are to 1) complete a comprehensive phylogeny of Cicadettini adding at least one species from each of the 20+ described but uncollected genera, increasing the number of taxa studied from 80 to 300; 2) test the monophyly of Cicadettini using outgroup taxa from four related tribes; 3) assess the monophyly of cicadettine genera and explore in detail all remaining Australian taxa formerly placed in Cicadetta; 4) construct phylogenetic trees for the largest, most widespread Australian cicadettine genera to establish calibrations for molecular dating; and 5) use relaxed-clock dating and lineage-through-time plots to relate clade formation to Australian and worldwide climate shifts.

Dr Max Moulds , Senior Research Fellow
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