• The University of Western Australia (M092), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile


I am a Lecturer at Macquarie University (MQ) in Sydney, Australia, and also an Adjunct Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia (UWA). After finishing my PhD at UWA in 2013, I worked for two years as a postdoctoral research associate in the research groups of professors Leigh Simmons, Joseph Tomkins and Dale Roberts. In 2015 I became the principal investigator of the prestigious Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award, which I held at the same university for the following three years. In 2018 I moved to Sydney to take up a fixed-term Lectureship at MQ, where I was based for approximately 2.5 years.

Since the COVID19 crisis hit Australian universities, I negotiated a split position between the university and a Western Australian environmental consulting company. I am currently based in Perth, where I am working at 80% for Bennelongia Environmental Consultants and 20% for Macquarie University.


2020 (current) Principal Biologist, Bennelongia Environmental Consultants (at 80%)


2018 (current) Lecturer, Macquarie University (full time 2018-2020; at 20% from April 2020)


2018 (current) Adjunct research fellow at University of Western Australia (UWA)


2018 (offer)    Assistant professor at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil (declined)


2015–2017      Research fellow, UWA; Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award


2013–2014      Postdoctoral associate at UWA (Sponsors: Leigh W. Simmons and J. Dale Roberts)



2009 – 2013 —PhD in Animal Science (Centre for Evolutionary Biology), School of Animal Biology, University of Western Australia, Perth - Australia. Thesis title: “The evolution of male dimorphism in arthropods” Supervisors: Leigh W. Simmons and Joseph L. Tomkins.

2006 - 2008 — MSc in Ecology, Institute of Biology, Campinas State University (Unicamp), Campinas - Brazil. Thesis title: “Reproductive biology of the harvestman Acutisoma proximum (Arachnida: Opiliones): alternative mating strategies among males and maternal care by females” Supervisor: Glauco Machado.

2001 – 2005 — Licentiate in Biological Sciences, Campinas State University (Unicamp), Campinas - Brazil.

2001 – 2005 — Bachelor in Biological Sciences, Campinas State University (Unicamp), Campinas - Brazil.


Funding overview

2019 MQ New Staff Grant (Macquarie University), Artificial selection for unobservable traits: the evolutionary potential of alternative phenotypes; AU$ 18,000


2019 National Geographic Society (~AU$ 29,000) and Australian Geographic Society(AU$ 2,000), Sydney funnel-web spiders: behaviour, mating system and population structure of the world’s deadliest spider


2015–2017 Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (Australian Research Council), The development, ecology and evolution of alternative phenotypes; AU$ 349,699


2015–2016 Early Career Researcher Fellowship Support Grant (University of Western Australia), Population density effects on the evolution of alternative male phenotypes; AU$ 29,934


2012 – 2013 PhD Completion Scholarship from UWA: AU$ 12,000 (five months).


2012 – ISBE Travel award: US$ 1,000.00 to attend the 14th International Behavioral Ecology Congress, in Lund – Sweden.


2012 – UWA Travel award: AU$ 1,100.00 to attend the 14th International Behavioral Ecology Congress, in Lund – Sweden.

2011 – UWA Travel award: AU$ 750.00 to attend the annual meeting of the Australasian Society for the Study of Animal Behaviour, in Adelaide – Australia.

2009 – 2012 —PhD scholarships: International Postgraduate Research Scholarship, CFH & EH Jenkins Award, and IDP Student Mobility Scholarship. AU$ 30,000.00 per year (for 3.5 years).


2006 – 2007 — Master research grant from CAPES (Brazil). US$ 12,127.66 (2 years).


2003 – 2005 — Undergraduate (honours) research grant from FAPESP (Brazil). US$ 4,681 (2 years).



Currently, my main research interest is male dimorphism, a phenomenon that often reflects alternative reproductive tactics among males: the large male morphs typically guard females or reproductive territories and have more elaborate weaponry; the small male morphs sneak copulations and have reduced weaponry. Male dimorphism is particularly common among arthropods, and usually results from a polyphenism: the differential expression of alternative phenotypes from a single genotype depending upon environmental conditions. My interest in the evolution of alternative mating tactics and male dimorphism led me into the topic of phenotypic plasticity. Therefore, in the last 5 years, part of my research has focused on threshold traits (polyphenisms), usually from a quantitative genetics perspective.

In 2015 I started a three year fellowship from the Australian Research Council, the competitive Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA). This fellowship funded my research project entitled “The development, ecology and evolution of alternative phenotypes”, which included experiments on conditional male dimorphism in dung beetles, bulb mites and harvestmen (arachnids from the order Opiliones). A large part of the project involved an artificial selection experiment in bulb mites, which showed that selection imposed in one male morph generates correlated evolutionary responses in the other morph . My DECRA has ended in December 2017, but I still have my selection lines (now at Macquarie University) and I am using them in creative ways to study the effects of selection on weapons on other naturally and sexually selected traits.


Finally, in 2019 I started a collaboration with Danilo Harms (University of Hamburg), Braxton Jones (now a PhD student at the University of Sydney), the Australian Museum and the Australian Reptile Park. This large team is tackling a range of interesting questions about the popular and feared Sydney funnel-web spider. We know surprisingly little about this species, and I specifically want to get a better understanding of males' movements during the breeding season — how far do they go? what affects their mobility? Answering these questions is relevant for keeping the public safer and better informed about the risks of having males walking into people's houses and causing accidents. Moreover, the project also aims to find out whether A. robustus is only one species, or a collection of 2 or more very similar cryptic species, as there is some evidence for the latter. The genetics will reveal that. This project is supported by both Australian Geographic and National Geographic.




Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

Research expertise keywords

  • Allometry
  • Alternative reproductive tactics
  • Arachnids and insects mating systems
  • Behavioural ecology
  • Evolutionary biology
  • Male dimorphism
  • Opiliones
  • Parental care
  • Sexual selection


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