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Dr David Luke Field


Staff Member Details
Telephone: +61 8 6304 5758
Campus: Joondalup  
Room: JO19.339  

Overview of role

David is a Lecturer in molecular ecology and evolutionary genetics in the School of Science.

Current Teaching

  • SCI1183 Origins and Evolution of Life
  • SCI2112 Molecular Biology and Biochemistry


David Field’s background has focused on the ecological and evolutionary genetics of natural plant populations. His research has covered a range of model and non-model plant systems (e.g. Eucalypts, Snapdragons) spanning several continents including Australia, North America and Europe. David holds a first-class honours degree (Bachelor of Science, Biology) and a PhD in Biology on the ecological genetics of hybrid zones in Eucalyptus. After completing his PhD in 2008 he moved to the University of Toronto, Canada to work on plant mating system evolution (with Prof Spencer Barrett). In 2011 he then moved to the Institute of Science and Technology (IST) Austria, focusing on speciation genetics in snapdragons (with Prof. Nick Barton). In 2016, he began an Assistant Professorship (group leader) position at the University of Vienna, further developing the snapdragon hybrid zone system as a model in speciation genomics. In 2019 he moved to Edith Cowan University as a Lecturer in Molecular Ecology (for current research projects see below). His research background is highly interdisciplinary combining bioinformatics and population genomics, theoretical modelling, method and program development, ecological field work and manipulative experiments.

  • June 2019 - present: Lecturer, School of Science, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Western Australia.
  • 2016 – 2019: Assistant Professor, Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research, University of Vienna, Austria.
  • 2011 – 2016: Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute of Science and Technology, Austria.
  • 2008 – 2011: Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto, Canada.
  • 2008: Postdoctoral Fellow, CSIRO Plant Industry, Canberra, Australia.

Professional Memberships

  • 2014-2019: European Society for Evolutionary Biology, ESEB (Member)
  • 2019: Genetics Society of Australasia, GSA (Member)

Awards and Recognition

National and International Awards

  • 2004: Mayo Prize. Best talk by a PhD student, Annual Meeting of Genetics Society of Australasia.
  • 2003-2006: CSIRO Scholarship Top-up Award
  • 2002-2006: University Postgraduate Research Award
  • 2001: Dean’s Merit List for academic performance, University of Wollongong.


Research highlighted in the media

Conference Speaker Invitations

  • Evolution of Plant Reproductive Systems, Barrett-Fest Symposium, University of Toronto, Canada, 2018.
  • Gordon Research Conference: Ecological and evolutionary genomics. University of New England, U.S.A, 2017.
  • American Genetic Association (AGA) meeting: Local adaptation. Asilomar, U.S.A, 2016.
  • Wild Genomics workshop, Edinburgh University, 2012.
  • International Conference on Polyploidy, Hybridization, and Biodiversity, Průhonice, Czech Republic, 2012.

Research Areas and Interests

  • Speciation and hybrid zones
  • Local adaptation
  • Population genetics and genomics
  • Plant mating systems and plant-pollinator interactions
  • Theoretical modelling and method development

David’s research focuses on the evolution and ecology of natural plant populations. His work examines the ecological and evolutionary processes that generate spatial patterns of phenotypic and genetic variation across landscapes and how this links with local adaptation. A current major focus is on hybrid zones – with the goal of dissecting the genetic basis of divergent traits and identifying the genomic location of barriers to gene flow. Other research topics include mating system evolution, polyploidy, genetic rescue and the development of methods and programs for population genetic and genomic analyses. The ultimate goal is to deepen our understanding of the mechanisms underlying speciation, local adaptation and the adaptive capacity of plant populations – issues of immense importance for evolutionary and conservation biology, and to plant breeding and global food security.

Current research projects include:

  1. Speciation Genetics in Snapdragons. Using natural hybrid zones, GWAS and spatial genetic data to quantify fitness landscapes and how barriers interact along the genome (Austrian Research Fund (FWF): 2019-2022). Collaboration with Nick Barton (IST Austria) and Enrico Coen (John Innes Centre UK).
  2. Genetic rescue of threatened species. Theoretical models to understand how genetic architecture impacts restoration and assisted migration strategies. With Melinda Pickup, Himani Sachdeva, Srdjan Sarikas.
  3. Hybridisation and the evolution of plant mating systems. A range of topics; (i) models of the diversification of self-incompatibility, (ii) sexual dimorphism, (iii) barriers to gene flow and mating systems, (iv) hybridisation and invasions. With Katka Bodova, Nick Barton, Melinda Pickup, Christelle Fraisse, Yaniv Brandvain and others.
  4. Method development in population genetics and genomics. I have a fondness for coding and developing new programs for population genomic analyses including (i) genomic scans of geographic clines, (ii) dispersal in polyploids and (iii) pedigree/sibship inference.

For more details see


  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Wollongong, 2008.

Research Outputs

Journal Articles

  • Shang, H., Hess, J., Pickup, M., Field, D., Ingvarsson, P., Liu, J., Lexer, C. (2020). Evolution of strong reproductive isolation in plants: broad-scale patterns and lessons from a perennial model group. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 375(1806), Article number 20190544.

Journal Articles

  • Andalo, C., Burrus, M., Paute, S., Lauzeral, C., Field, D. (2019). Prevalence of legitimate pollinators and nectar robbers and the consequences for fruit set in an Antirrhinum majus hybrid zone. Botany Letters, 166(1), 80-92.
  • Puixeu, G., Pickup, M., Field, D., Barrett, S. (2019). Variation in sexual dimorphism in a wind-pollinated plant: the influence of geographical context and life-cycle dynamics. New Phytologist, 224(3), 1108-1120.
  • Pickup, M., Brandvain, Y., Fraïsse, C., Yakimowski, S., Barton, NH., Dixit, T., Lexer, C., Cereghetti, E., Field, D. (2019). Mating system variation in hybrid zones: facilitation, barriers and asymmetries to gene flow. New Phytologist, 224(3), 1035-1047.

Journal Articles

  • Bod'ová, K., Priklopil, T., Field, D., Barton, NH., Pickup, M. (2018). Evolutionary Pathways for the Generation of New Self-Incompatibility Haplotypes in a Nonself-Recognition System. Genetics, 209(3), 861-883.
  • Ringbauer, H., Kolesnikov, A., Field, D., Barton, NH. (2018). Estimating Barriers to Gene Flow from Distorted Isolation-by-Distance Patterns. Genetics, 208(3), 1231-1245.
  • Tavares, H., Whibley, A., Field, D., Bradley, D., Couchman, M., Copsey, L., Elleouet, J., Burrus, M., Andalo, C., Li, M., Li, Q., Xue, Y., Rebocho, A., Barton, NH., Coen, E. (2018). Selection and gene flow shape genomic islands that control floral guides. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA, 115(43), 11006-11011.
  • Ellis, TJ., Field, D., Barton, NH. (2018). Efficient inference of paternity and sibship inference given known maternity via hierarchical clustering. Molecular Ecology Resources, 18(5), 988-999.

Journal Articles

  • Field, D., Broadhurst, LM., Elliot, CP., Young, AG. (2017). Population assignment in autopolyploids. Heredity, 119(6), 389-401.
  • Bradley, D., Xu, P., Mohoriamu, I., Whibley, A., Field, D., Tavares, H., Coachman, M., Copsey, L., Carpenter, R., Li, M., Li, Q., Xue, Y., Dalmay, T., Coen, E. (2017). Evolution of flower color pattern through selection on regulatory small RNAs. Science, 358(6365), 925-928.

Journal Articles

  • Teitel, Z., Pickup, M., Field, D., Barrett, S. (2016). The dynamics of resource allocation and costs of reproduction in a sexually dimorphic, wind-pollinated dioecious plant. Plant Biology, 18(1), 98-103.
  • Ellis, TJ., Field, D. (2016). Repeated gains in yellow and anthocyanin pigmentation in flower colour transitions in the Antirrhineae. Annals of Botany, 117(7), 1133-1140.

Research Projects

  • Propagation, Research and Monitoring Plan(s) for Threatened Flora , Perth Airport, Grant, 2021, $16,294.

Research Student Supervision

Principal Supervisor

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Design and development of an advanced semi-transparent photovoltaic mini-greenhouses

Associate Supervisor

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Conospermum undulatum: insights into population genetics and pollination ecology of a threatened species
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