Karen Bell

Dr, BBiotech Flin ., DPhil Qld

  • The University of Western Australia (M084), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


  • Source: Scopus
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Personal profile


I completed my PhD at the University of Queensland in entomology. Through subsequent postdoctoral positions, my research interests diverged into plant-insect interactions and plant ecology. I hold a joint appointment between the University of Western Australia and CSIRO Health & Biosecurity. My current research uses methods from population genetics, phylogeography, and DNA barcoding to investigate questions in invasion biology, community ecology, plant-animal interactions and plant-human interactions.


My key research interests are within three main themes:

  • Tracing the geographic history of invasive species using population genetics and biogeography, to understand where a species come from, when, and why the species was introduced. Understanding introduction pathways is important for optimising biosecurity measures. Identifying source populations in the native range may help with obtaining more effective biological control agents, while also improving our understanding of the coevolution of host plants and their natural enemies.
  • Examining potential ancient human-mediated species dispersal into and around Australia. Ancient anthropogenic change is often not considered in studies on biogeography and community ecology in places like Australia where traditional cultures were thought to have limited impact on the environment. Taking into consideration a broader view of ecological history could help with the management of ecosystems under anthropogenic change.
  • Developing and applying methods in DNA metabarcoding (the genetic identification of species in mixtures) for the species-level identification of pollen. Pollen DNA metabarcoding has applications in pollination ecology, allergen monitoring, and forensics. I’m interested in collaborating with researchers from multiple disciplines to find new applications for this technology.

External positions

Joint appointment, CSIRO Health and Biosecurity

30 Oct 2016 → …


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