About

Professor Crayn’s career has involved studies of the origins, evolution and classification of plants and deals broadly with the questions: how many plant species exist, where do they occur, how are they related and how have they evolved?

These objectives have taken him to a broad range of biomes and countries including the Republic of Panama, Venezuela, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Malaysia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Since March 2008, Darren has been the inaugural Director of the Australian Tropical Herbarium, a joint venture between James Cook University, CSIRO and the Queensland Government.

Teaching
  • BZ3620: Tropical Flora of Australia (Level 3; CNS)
  • BZ5620: Tropical Flora of Australia (Level 5; CNS)
Interests
Research
  • discovering, naming and classifying new plant species and determining the evolutionary relationships among them
  • mapping the distribution of ecosystems, species and genetic variation within species across the landscape,
  • developing DNA-based tools and ‘matrix keys’ for species identification and rapid biodiversity inventory
  • uncovering the deep-time origins and ancient migration pathways of plants that are found in tropical Australia today
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
Honours
Fellowships
  • 1998 to 2000 - Andrew W. Mellon Fellow, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Memberships
  • 2014 - Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change Management Committee
  • 2013 - Australian Orchid Foundation Research Committee
  • 2012 - Australian Barcode of Life Network Steering Committee
  • 2011 - Wet Tropics Management Authority Scientific Advisory Committee
  • 2011 - Tropical Indigenous Ethnobotany Centre - Coordinating Committee member
  • 2010 - Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria
  • 2009 - Daintree Rainforest Observatory Scientific Committee
  • 2011 to 2014 - National Environmental Research Program, Tropical Ecosystems Hub Rainforest Working Group
  • 2009 to 2014 - Australian Biological Resources Study Advisory Committee
  • 2009 - Herbarium NE International Review Panel
  • 1997 - National Biodiversity Council
Other
  • 2012 to 2014 - Chair, Australian Biological Resources Study Research Subcommittee, Advisory Committee
  • 2005 to 2008 - Australian Systematic Botany Society - Vice President
  • 2003 to 2005 - Australian Systematic Botany Society - Councillor
Publications

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
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ResearchOnline@JCU stores 57+ research outputs authored by Prof Darren Crayn from 2001 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Southeast Asian Gateway Evolution Meeting - Student Travel Grant

Origins of the northern Australian flora: Role of the Sunda-Sahul Floristic Exchange

Indicative Funding
$811
Summary
I am investigating the origins of the northern Australian flora, and specifically, the exchange of flora with Southeast Asia when Australia collided with the Eurasian plate approximately 25 Mya. This exchange was key in shaping Australia?s northern flora, however the patterns, dynamics and extent of its contribution is poorly understood. Using a comparative phylogenetic approach, I aim to characterise the contribution and timing of exchange, establish whether the exchange was directionally biased, identify dispersal tracks of Asian taxa through northern Australia, and investigate underlying dispersal mechanisms. This research can inform conservation decisions and enhance understanding of evolutionary processes across Australasia.
Investigators
Elizabeth Joyce, Darren Crayn and Katharina Schulte (Division of Tropical Environments & Societies)
Keywords
Sunda; Sahul; Australasia; origin; evolution; phylogenetic

Century Mining Ltd - Grant

Documenting Indigenous Plant Knowledge to Strengthen Cnservation Management in Kwaio, Solomon Islands

Indicative Funding
$26,184
Summary
The project is designed to deliver ongoing capacity-strengthening activities and training in project management, organizational governance and financial management to enhance local conservation efforts in the central mountains of the island of Malaita, Solomon Islands. Our larger goals include setting up a Kwaio CSO to manage conservation activities in the area (see ?Project Objectives? below), protect and conserve priority species on Malaita, and in the longer-term, work toward creating Protected Areas to protect globally threatened species. We also hope the project will serve as a conservation model for other Malaitan and Solomon Islands communities. The project is taking place with people of the Kwaio language group. The mountain Kwaio people are the largest Solomon Islands group still practicing their indigenous ancestral religion. The biodiversity conservation project is documenting the deep local knowledge of medicinal plants and bush foods found in the rainforest of Malaita, and building capacity to undertake similar projects in the future.
Investigators
David MacLaren, John Laete?esafi, Esau Kekeubata, Jackson Waneagea, David Akin, Tommy Esau, Peter Massey, Michelle Redman-MacLaren, Ben Speare, Darren Crayn, Frank Zich, Humpress Harrington and James Asugeni (College of Medicine & Dentistry, Kwainaa Cultural Centre, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, New South Wales Health, Tropical Health Solutions Pty Ltd, College of Science & Engineering, Division of Tropical Environments & Societies, Pacific Adventist University (Atoifi Campus) and Atoifi Adventist Hospital)
Keywords
Kwaio; Traditional Medicine; Solomon Islands; Medicinal Plants; Traditional Knowledge; Biodiversity Conservation

Australia & Pacific Science Foundation - The Australia Pacific Science Hermon Slade Research Fund

Next generation systematics for Nepenthes Pitcher Plants

Indicative Funding
$43,717 over 3 years
Summary
The carnivorous pitcher plant genus Nepenthes comprises c.160 species distributed throughout the Southeast Asia and Oceania. Species have traditionally been distinguished using morphological characteristics, but many recently described species have been distinguished on the basis of minor differences, whose stability has been questioned. To date, no taxonomically informative molecular phylogeny of Nepenthes has been published. The lack of an objective taxonomic framework has hindered efforts of biologists who seek to study and conserve threatened Nepenthes. This study seeks to eliminate this problem using next generation sequencing methods to construct a robust, informative phylogeny of Nepenthes based on c. 100 species.
Investigators
Darren Crayn, Charles Clarke and Katharina Schulte (Division of Tropical Environments & Societies)
Keywords
Phylogeny; Systematics; Nepenthes; Pitcher plant; Next Generation Sequencing; Evolution

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Projects

Australia's distinctive succulent flora

Indicative Funding
$364,400 over 3 years
Summary
We will investigate why Australia, the driest vegetated continent, has no landscape dominated by large succulents but nevertheless supports a distinctive, diverse and widespread succulent flora. Focusing on terrestrial succulents and epiphytic orchids, we will explore the evolution, assembly and biodiversity of Australia?s succulent flora, evaluating the roles of genetic composition, photosynthetic physiology, aridity, fire, soil nutrients and salinity in its historical expansion, and assessing the resilience of the assemblages to changing climate. Of particular interest will be how the most water-use efficient type of photosynthesis, crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM), is expressed across the succulent landscape.
Investigators
Joe Holtum, Mike Crisp, Darren Crayn, Erika Edwards, Klaus Winter and Rowan Sage (College of Science & Engineering, Australian National University, Division of Tropical Environments & Societies, Brown University, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and University of Toronto)
Keywords
succulents; succulent flora; epiphytic orchids

Skyrail Rainforest Foundation - Research Funding

Phylogeny and Biogeography of Australian Garcinia (Clusiaceae)

Indicative Funding
$3,643
Summary
Australia is a part of Gondwanaland which is also rich in plant diversity. One of the most common plant groups in Gondwanan region is Clusioid clade including Podostemaceae, Hypericaceae, Calophyllaceae, Clusiaceae and Bonnetiaceae. A recent study of Clusioid biogeography (Ruhfel et al, 2016) recommended to focus on some groups to elucidate their biogeographic history including Calophyllum, Clusiaceae, Garcinieae, Mammea, Podostemoideae, and Vismieae. In this project, I will examine Garcinieae as the case study focusing on Australian Garcinia. All 12 spp. of Australian Garcinia will be taken into the study along with 63 spp. of Garcinia from other tropical regions worldwide. The analysis will use plastid genes marker matK and ndhF performed by Sanger sequencing. The outcomes will contribute new information of Australian Garcinia biogeography.
Investigators
Rismita Sari, Sandra Abell, Darren Crayn, Paul Gadek and Natalie Dillon (College of Science & Engineering, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and Forestry)
Keywords
Garcinia; Clusiaceae; Phylogeny; Australia; MatK; ndhF

Department of the Environment and Energy - Director of National Parks - Contract Research

Quinkan BushBlitz

Indicative Funding
$11,346
Summary
This project involves surveys on remote sandstone country on Cape York, with the purpose of discovering new species of plants. All discoveries will be written upin the scientific and popular literature and media. The data gathered will contribute significantly to the knowledge of the biodiversity of tropical Australia and will underpin effective management and conservation planning.
Investigators
Darren Crayn in collaboration with Stuart Worboys (Division of Tropical Environments & Societies)
Keywords
Quinkan Ctenotus; Species Discovery; Ecology; Cape York Peninsula; Taxonomy

Department of the Environment and Energy - Australian Biological Resources Study - Student Travel Bursary

Phylogeny and Biogeography of Garcinia (Clusiaceae)

Indicative Funding
$750
Summary
This study was undertaken to uncover the relationship of Australian Garcinia with other Garcinia species from different regions in the world. The majority of Australian Garcinia occur in the wet tropical region of North Queensland with a high level of endemicity. Using a combination of molecular and morphological data this study found a group of Australian Garcinia that are more closely related to New Guinean species while another clade had closer affinities to Asian species. The outcomes contribute important information to the systematics of Garcinia and a greater understanding of the biogeography of Australian plant diversity.
Investigators
Rismita Sari, Sandra Abell, Darren Crayn, Paul Gadek and Natalie Dillon (College of Science & Engineering, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and Forestry)
Keywords
Garcinia; Clusiaceae; Phylogeny; Australia; Wet Tropics; Queensland

Department of the Environment and Energy - Australian Biological Resources Study - Student Travel Bursary

Origins of the northern Australian flora: Role of the Sunda-Sahul Floristic Exchange

Indicative Funding
$750
Summary
I am investigating the origins of the northern Australian flora, and specifically, the exchange of flora with Southeast Asia when Australia collided with the Eurasian plate approximately 25 Mya. This exchange was key in shaping Australia?s northern flora, however the patterns, dynamics and extent of its contribution is poorly understood. Using a comparative phylogenetic approach, I aim to characterise the contribution and timing of exchange, establish whether the exchange was directionally biased, identify dispersal tracks of Asian taxa through northern Australia, and investigate underlying dispersal mechanisms. This research can inform conservation decisions and enhance understanding of evolutionary processes across Australasia.
Investigators
Elizabeth Joyce, Darren Crayn and Katharina Schulte (Division of Tropical Environments & Societies)
Keywords
Sundaland; Sahul; Australasia; origin; Evolution; Phylogenetic

Department of the Environment and Energy - Australian Biological Resources Study - Student Travel Bursary

Phylogenomic insights into the spatio-temporal evolution of Australasian Bulbophyllum (Orchidaceae)

Indicative Funding
$1,500
Summary
Bulbophyllum (Orchidaceae) comprises one of the three largest plant genera with more than 2000 species. This project uses DNA sequence data to reconstruct phylogenetic relationships within the diverse Asian and Australasian taxa (~1700 species). Additionaly, within species genetic diversity is mapped for two species endemic to Australia's Wet Tropics mountain tops. The project is significant for establishing a framework phylogeny for this diverse genus and fine scale population sampling to identify phylogeographic patterns within species endemic to Wet tropics mountain tops where significant climate shifts are expected in the coming decades. Outcomes include a genetic database and peer reviewed manuscripts.
Investigators
Lalita Simpson, Darren Crayn, Katharina Schulte and Mark Clements (Division of Tropical Environments & Societies and Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation)
Keywords
Tropical biodiversity; Wet Tropics; Bulbophyllum (Orchidaceae)

Cape York Natural Resource Management Ltd - Contract Research

Quinkan Grass Guide

Indicative Funding
$25,790
Summary
This project will produce a series of fact sheets to help land managers and the public identify grasses of Quinkan country, Cape York Peninsula The outcomes will be useful to everyone who manages land in the Quinkan area and needs to determine what grasses are present on their land and whether they are palatable, productive or weeds. This is a pilot project for a future complete guide to grasses of Cape York Peninsula.
Investigators
Darren Crayn in collaboration with Raelee Kerrigan (Division of Tropical Environments & Societies)
Keywords
Grasses; Taxonomy; Cape York Penninsula

Wet Tropics Management Authority - Student Research Grant Scheme

Analysis on the Variation of Australian Garcinia using Diversity Array Technology

Indicative Funding
$1,200
Summary
Garcinia (Clusiaceae) is one of the common genera in the tropics, including Australia. The Plant List records 611 species but includes synonyms (The Plant List, 2015). This genus comprises approximately 271 species (Stevens, 2007) but might reach up to 500 spp. (Jones, 1980). A global revision of Garcinia is not yet available and the total number of the species is still unknown. However, the Australian Garcinia has recently been revised resulting in 12 known species of Garcinia that can be found in this region (Cooper, 2013). The distribution of Garcinia in Australia is from the Torres Strait Island to the Kirrama Range, including the entire Wet Tropics bioregion. This grant will support the finding of new information for the Australian Garcinia. The DArT analysis is a new technique applied to Garcinia which will increase and support the previous data that used only one region of the nuclear DNA. This information will give a better understanding of the molecular variation of the Australian Garcinia and help resolve the phylogenetic differences between closely related taxa that otherwise would not be possible.
Investigators
Rismita Sari, Sandra Abell, Darren Crayn, Paul Gadek and Natalie Dillon (College of Science & Engineering, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and Forestry)
Keywords
Clusiaceae; Garcinia; Phylogeny; Australia; Wet Tropics; Queensland

Ian Potter Foundation - Science

Saving the unique plants ofAustralia's tropical mountaintops through understanding the threats

Indicative Funding
$25,000
Summary
This project will improve our understanding of the extinction risk to Australia's unique tropical moutain flora from climate change, and provide important knowledge which will help in developing measures to mitigate its effects. It will achieve this through three activities: 1. first ever targeted, systematic surveys to document the distribution and abundance of threatened mountaintop plant speciesl; 2. establishment of field plots to allow monitoring of the health of mountaintop plant populations over the long term; and 3. establishment of living collections of the two native Rhododendron species to provide well-provenanced magterials for conservation and further research.
Investigators
Darren Crayn (Division of Tropical Environments & Societies)
Keywords
Flora; Rhododendron; Climate Change; tropical mountain; Ecology; Extinction
Supervision

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

Current
  • An Assessment of Monotypic Genus Septogarcinia Kosterm., Australian Garcinia, Hybridization, Biogeography and Evolution in Garcinia (Clusiaceae) (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Phylogenomic Insights into the Spatio-temporal Evolution of Australasian Bulbophyllum (Orchidaceae) (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Vegetation Communities of Cape Your Peninsula: Evaluating Queensland's Regional Ecosystem Classification (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Systematics and Evolution of the Genus Elaeocarpus L. (Elaeocarpaceae) (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Origins of the Northern Australian Flora: Role of the Sunda-Sahul Floristic Exchange (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Biodiversity and Phylogeography of Mountain-top fungi (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Fruit Development in Theobroma Cacao: Understanding the Limitations to Optimized Cacao Production (PhD , Advsor Mentor)
  • Improving Mango Breeding Efficiency Through Improved Pollen Storage, Fruit Retention and Understanding of the Heritability of Quantitative Tree Architectural Traits (PhD , Primary Advisor)
Completed
  • Evolution, Systematics and Taxonomy of Elaeocarpus (Elaeocarpaceae) in Australasia. (2014, PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Systematics and biogeography of Elaeocarpus (Elaeocarpaceae) (2015, PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Systematics and Biogeography of the Styphelieae (Epacridoideae, Ericaceae) (2013, PhD , Primary Advisor)
Collaboration

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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Email
Phone
Location
  • E2.118J, Sir Robert Norman Building (Cairns campus)
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