Simon Jarman

Dr, Professor

  • The University of Western Australia (M090), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile


My research focuses on developing genomic methods to study populations and communities of multicellular organisms. My group developed the first test for wild animal age based on changes in DNA methylation. We applied this technology to humpback whales and I continue to work on DNA methylation age estimation in this species as well as several other whales, fish, reptiles and seabirds. We have also developed a method for estimating the maximum lifespan of a species from the density of CpG sites in promoter regions of a small set of selected genes. This allows us to tell how long a species might live for from a genome sequence. My goal with these research themes is to develop the field of "genomic population dynamics" to the point where we can estimate most of the key parameters of population biology using genomic tools. 

I have also worked extensively on DNA-based analysis of animal diet and environmental diversity of species with DNA metabarcoding technology. My research group were heavily involved in the early development of dietary DNA metabarcoding. Some highlights of this research were characterising the diets of whales, seals, penguins, whale sharks and giant squid with our new methods; identifying jellyfish as a major food item for seabirds; and developing the molecular methods and conceptual frameworks that made this area a useful research method. My environmental DNA research has investigated species diversity and presence from the poles to the tropics.

In 2020 I will commence teaching a level 4/5 unit on "Environmental DNA sequencing" (BIOL4410) in the School of Biological Sciences at UWA. I will also lecture in ENVT3307, ANIM3361 and a small part of ANIM2220.

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 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

Education/Academic qualification

Genetics, PhD, University of Tasmania

Award Date: 1 Sep 2002

Genetics, BSc(Hons) Genetics, University of Aberdeen

Award Date: 2 Sep 1995

External positions

Affiliate, CSIRO Environomics Future Science Platform, Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation

Associate Editor, Methods in Ecology and Evolution

Research expertise keywords

  • Animal age
  • Epigenetics
  • Genetics
  • Environmental DNA
  • DNA metabarcoding
  • Animal diet
  • Molecular ecology


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