Moths and Butterflies Australasia Inc.
President Axel Kallies - [email protected]
Secretary Michael Braby - [email protected]
Vice-President Donald Hobern - [email protected]
Treasurer Tony Moore - [email protected]
Editor David Britton - [email protected]
Public Officer Julie Morgan - [email protected]
Ying Luo (Website Officer) - [email protected]
Cathy Byrne (Education Officer) - [email protected]
Chris Sanderson (Conservation Officer) - [email protected]
Robert Hoare (New Zealand Officer) [email protected]
Marlene Walter (Councillor) [email protected]
Councillor (media officer) - Vacant
Dr Marianne Horak is currently an Honorary Fellow at the Australian National Insect Collection, Canberra. After completing her PhD degree in Switzerland, she joined the ANIC in 1982 to study the taxonomy and biology of Southern Hemisphere moths, particularly Tortricidae, but also the subfamily Phycitinae of the family Pyralidae and to address other major problems in the Australian Microlepidoptera, including Oecophoridae and Bucculatricidae.
Earlier she spent two years in New Zealand (1967–1969) and two years at Bulolo in Papua New Guinea (1971–1973). Her PhD work on Tortricidae culminated in landmark findings on the phylogeny of the family, and the structures that are important in its taxonomy. She then embarked on a series of revisions of the Australasian Tortricidae. In 2001, she became head of the Lepidoptera unit at the ANIC, a position which she held until retirement in 2010. She has continued as Chief Editor of the Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera series, played a leading role in the establishment of the website, Australian Moths Online, and instituted the regular “Moth Weekend” workshops. She also established the Australian Lepidoptera Endowment Fund to facilitate studies of Lepidoptera in the ANIC. In 2008, Marianne won the inaugural J.O. Westwood Medal for the comprehensive work Olethreutine Moths of Australian (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae), which was published in 2006. In 2019, Marianne was awarded the Karl Jordan Medal by the Lepidopterists’ Society, and thus gained the distinct honour of being the first woman to receive this prestigious international award. Marianne fully embraces the concept that one can achieve more by encouraging others than one can by working alone.
Council Members and roles
President: Axel Kallies
Axel is a professor of molecular immunology at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, University of Melbourne. Ever since he was a teenager he has been interested in moths, and has specialised in the taxonomy, systematics and phylogeny of the superfamily Cossoidea, including Cossidae, Sesiidae, Brachodidae and Castniidae, describing more than 170 taxa mostly in these families. This includes moths from Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, and of course Australia. He is the author or co-author of over 80 scientific papers, including research articles on moth phylogeny, taxonomic descriptions and revisions, biology, faunal lists and new distributions.
Over the last 10 years, he has been working with a group of other Australian entomologists including Doug Hilton, Andy Young, Liz Milla and others on Australia’s monotrysian moths, including Heliozelidae, Adelidae, Opostegidae and Hepialidae, and additional evolutionary primitive families of moths. Other groups of interest include families such as Zygaenidae, Cyclotornidae and Glyphipterigidae. Together with Peter Marriott, he is also part of the Moths of Victoria project team, documenting the faunistics and ecology of Victorian moths.
Secretary: Michael F. Braby
Dr Michael Braby is an Honorary Associate Professor in the Division of Ecology and Evolution at the Australian National University and a Visiting Scientist at the Australian National Insect Collection, Canberra. He developed an interest in the natural history of butterflies at the age of 16 whilst a high school student and has been hooked ever since! He is recognised nationally and internationally for his research on the biodiversity of butterflies—particularly their taxonomy, systematics, biogeography and conservation biology. His research aims to better understand and document the composition, biogeographic patterns and evolutionary history of butterflies and the underlying processes shaping their assembly on the Australian continent, as well as management actions needed for their conservation. Michael has a keen interest in the photography and life histories of butterflies and diurnal moths, and his reference collection of Australian butterflies (c. 10,000 specimens) was recently donated to the ANIC. He is the recipient of several awards, including the The Whitley Medal in 2001 by the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales for the best book on the natural history of Australian animals (Butterflies of Australia: Their Identification, Biology and Distribution), the Whitley Award Certificate of Commendation in 2005 for the best book in the category of Field Guide (The Complete Field Guide to Butterflies of Australia). In 2011 he received the Hayashi Award from the Butterfly Society of Japan in recognition of outstanding contribution to the study of Lepidoptera through the publication of numerous books and research papers for both specialist and amateur lepidopterists. In 2012 he was awarded the Mackerras Medal in 2012 by the Australian Entomological Society for excellence in Entomology.
Vice President: Donald Hobern
Donald Hobern is an amateur lepidopterist with particular interest in plume moths (Pterophoridae) and many-plume moths (Alucitidae). He has been passionate about natural history since growing up on the Essex coast in the UK. He studied Classics at university and then worked as a software developer and architect for IBM for 16 years, including several years in the US and in New Zealand. In 2002, he joined the newly-established Secretariat of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) in Copenhagen as Programme Officer for Data Access and Data Interoperability. Since then, he has worked internationally as a biodiversity informatics specialist, including leading roles in GBIF, the Atlas of Living Australia, the Taxonomic Databases Working Group, the International Barcode of Life Consortium and Catalogue of Life. He now divides his time between work to improve the quality and management of the Catalogue of Life Checklist and to improve data management for crop research data within the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility.
Currently, his primary Lepidoptera interests involve building automated camera traps to collect standardised data on nightly moth numbers and work to fill gaps and correct errors in the Global Lepidoptera Index, a project to build a comprehensive and current listing of all the world’s described moth and butterfly species.
Treasurer: Tony Moore
Tony Moore is a veterinarian who worked after graduation in Australia in small animal practice during the 1980s, and then spent 17 years in the USA teaching veterinary oncology at Tufts University in Massachusetts. He left his position as Professor there to return to Australia in 2003, and co-direct a veterinary oncology consulting company. Although well published in the veterinary field, his interest in lepidoptera is primarily as a hobbyist, and he has collected butterflies since he was 12 years old. His academic career has allowed him to collect on all suitable continents and in such fabulous places as Sulawesi, Costa Rica and Madagascar. A more recent interest in moths has expanded his horizons (and number of cabinets) considerably. He and his wife live near Port Macquarie, on 25 acres recently designated as a Biodiversity Conservation Trust. Now semi-retired, he hopes to develop more dexterity and skills in the study of lepidoptera.
Editor: David Britton
David currently works as an entomologist. He has been an entomologist for as long as he can remember and has diverse experience and interests which has covered physiology, behaviour, chemical and nutritional ecology, community ecology, conservation biology, insect life-histories, pest surveillance and monitoring, and management of pest insects. Much of this work has included Lepidoptera as the group of interest. His education included a series of degrees from University of Melbourne, La Trobe University, and the University of New England before he quite sensibly decided to part ways with the university system and get an actual job. This job was a long stint as entomology collection manager at the Australian Museum, and a shorter stint as the manager of the natural history collections at the Museum. He then decided on a change of scenery, heading north to his current location to work in a more tropical environment. David amassed a private collection from around 1988 to 2015 of over 10,000 specimens, primarily Lepidoptera from south-eastern Australia, but also moths and butterflies from South Africa, Arizona and Papua New Guinea. This has been donated to the Australian Museum. While not claiming to have any major expertise with any group of Lepidoptera or indeed other groups of insects, he does have a fondness for the Lithosiini and a very broad knowledge of entomology in general
Councillor (Conservation Officer): Chris Sanderson
Chris is based in Brisbane and is a reformed vertebrate ecologist who now spends most of his limited time in the field looking at butterflies. Currently working with the Queensland Government, his role is to provide habitat mapping and advice on fauna to legislators and decision makers within government. During his formative years, Chris was lucky to have a grandmother who was a passionate birdwatcher, a passion which appears to have rubbed off on him. This early love of birds turned into a love of butterflies, reptiles, mammals, frogs, orchids, dragonflies, and everything else that makes up the diversity of our natural world. Chris completed a dual degree in Science and Information Technology at the University of Queensland, before embarking on a career working in a diverse range of ecology related professions. He spent several years working for Birdlife Australia, particularly focusing on their citizen science activities (before people were calling it citizen science), which mostly consisted of convincing interested people to write down what birds they were seeing and send it to him. After this, he spent a long time working as an ecological consultant, where he spent most of his time writing down what animals he saw and sending that to other people. In 2012, Chris found a small orange butterfly near Darwin, which became a bigger deal than he expected, and eventually led to meeting Michael Braby and starting the Butterflies Australia project. Butterflies Australia is a citizen science project which established a nation-wide database for interested people to, you guessed it, write down what butterflies they see and send it to us! Chris is looking forwards to MABA continuing what was started with Butterflies Australia and growing the contribution of citizen science to the field of Lepidoptery.
Councillor (Education Officer): Catherine Byrne
Cathy grew up in southern Tasmania, and as a child she used to love wandering around the bush, observing and collecting insects. She recalls always wanting to be an entomologist. She finally achieved that goal some decades after, raising a family of four kids along the way, and finishing a science degree followed by a PhD where she studied the systematics of native geometrid moths supervised by Peter McQuillan. Systematics had to take a back seat while she worked with Tasmanian Department of Agriculture on a project securing market access to Japan for locally grown cherries. This job gave her access to the Department’s large and historical Tasmanian insect collection, which featured collections from such notable Australian entomologists as A.M. Lea and J.W. Evans, both who had worked in the same Department. Working with collections has now become Cathy’s job as Senior Curator of Zoology at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) in Hobart. The curatorship position is a very diverse one, spanning collection and staff management, and public outreach and education. Curators are also expected to conduct systematic research, enabling Cathy to continue her productive and high-quality research on Australian Geometridae. Zoology at the TMAG has the very ambitious goal to have representatives every animal species in Tasmania held in the Museum collections. As part of achieving that goal the Museum conducts “Expeditions of Discovery” to remote and poorly collected areas of Tasmania almost every year. For Cathy this has resulted in finding many new lepidopteran species, faunal records and rarities, and much of Cathy’s time is now spent preparing and identifying moth specimens from this field work. Cathy sees MABA as an association that can bring together everyone who is interested in our diverse and fascinating Lepidoptera, highlighting how important our fauna is globally, with its diversity and high level of endemicity. She hopes it will provide a platform for the sharing of knowledge on our moths and butterflies both locally and internationally.
Public Officer: Julie Morgan
Julie lives on the south coast of New South Wales on a property that she manages for conservation. Her curiosity about her environment led her to research the many aspects of the natural world that surrounded her. It began with birds, then butterflies, plants, frogs, mammals, other insects, and more. Julie’s interest in moths started about twelve years ago when she began to photograph the many species that visited the outdoor lights at night. She found that identifying all the species was a challenge and was fortunate enough to be introduced to Ted Edwards who was very generous in sharing his knowledge of moths. She became fascinated with the wonderful variety in the moth world, from the stunning colours and patterns of emeralds, the various structures that case moths build, and the spectacle of ghost moths emerging after rain.
As Chair of the Eurobodalla Natural History Society, Julie encourages others to learn more about nature by leading field trips, writing newsletter articles and conducting talks. She believes that education is the way to connect people to nature and an important component of conservation. Presentations on Lepidoptera are particularly popular, with people both surprised and delighted with the beauty and diversity of moths and butterflies around them. The interest created has resulted in reports of species not previously recorded in the region. Julie believes Moths and Butterflies Australasia Inc. will bring together a diverse range of people interested in Lepidoptera, balancing a strong scientific foundation with a wider appeal for community and other interest groups. MABA will play an important role in education and conservation and will promote the documentation of new observations and discoveries.
Councillor (New Zealand): Robert Hoare
Robert was born in 1967 in Winchester, southern England. His father Ian is a keen amateur entomologist who made beautiful collections of butterflies and beetles; Robert first took an interest in Lepidoptera at the age of 6, when he remembers counting Tyria jacobaeae larvae on ragwort in Cornwall. After a classical education at Eton (1980-84) and Oxford (1985-89), he decided to pursue entomology more seriously, switching to biology and studying at Exeter University, where Robin Wootton was a lecturer. By this time his major focus of interest was Microlepidoptera. Attracted by realms with greater diversity and scope for discovery than post-Ice Age Britain, he moved to Australia in 1995 to pursue a PhD under Penny Gullan and Ebbe Nielsen, working on the tiny leaf-mining Nepticulidae. He took his current position in Auckland, New Zealand, at the New Zealand Arthropod Collection in 1998, after the retirement of John Dugdale, and since then has worked mainly on New Zealand Xyloryctidae and Noctuidae, but has now turned his attention to Tineoidea, especially the poorly known and bizarre Dryadaulidae. He retains a broad interest in all Lepidoptera families, though chiefly Microlepidoptera, and likes to rear through the early stages as much as possible. The strange and highly endemic New Zealand fauna is a source of constant fascination.
Councillor (Website Officer): Ying Luo
Ying Luo is an early career entomologist, with a background in insect taxonomy and systematics. Her entomological exploits have taken her far and wide, from working as a research assistant in Hong Kong to working in Darwin. She described her first insect species (an ant) at the age of 21 and since then has been looking for opportunities to describe even more. This desire led her to her MPhil project based at the Australian National Insect Collection on a group of leaf-mining lepidopterans, the Phyllocnistinae (Family: Gracillariidae). Due to the lack of previous work in this area, she is keen to understand more about all leaf-mining Lepidoptera. Ying is passionate about the diversity of insects and diversity in science.
Councillor: Marlene Walter
Marlene has been passionate about moths, butterflies and really everything nature-related for as long as she can remember. She blames her grandma – she used to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar to her every day when she was very litte. She has always wanted to work in a nature-related field and has finally achieved this after finishing her B.Sc. in Land management and Nature Conservation in 2019. She is at the moment working as a field ecologist, passionate about the outdoors, entomology and botany. In the past years she has worked with Axel, Doug and Liz on the Heliozelidae Project and has been rearing caterpillars in the moth families Anthelidae and Lasiocampidae with the aim of shedding light on their biology and contributing to the resolution of species complexes. She is currently describing her first species (a moth) and eager to embark on a higher degree in the future.