Dr Robyn Cumming

Robyn Cumming

Robyn Cumming is a Collection Manager and Researcher in the Biodiversity and Geosciences program at the Museum of Tropical Queensland (MTQ), Townsville, and is a taxonomist and ecologist. She is responsible for the management, preservation and databasing of the MTQ collections (approx. 50,000 specimens) of tropical marine invertebrates and vertebrates, including bryozoans (lace corals, sea mats, moss animals), crustaceans, echinoderms and marine mammals.

Research Projects:

Robyn’s research targets contemporary issues in biodiversity science, with focus on MTQ collections of the Phylum Bryozoa (approx. 25,000 specimens), in the fields of taxonomy, systematics, ecology and biogeography. Current projects (in collaboration) include:

  1. Ecology and taxonomy of coral reef and inter-reefal Bryozoa of the Great Barrier Reef.
  2. Taxonomy and biogeography of Bryozoa of the Gulf of Carpentaria and across northern Australia.
  3. Phylogeny and taxonomy of the Lanceoporidae (Bryozoa: Smittinoidea).

Research Background:

Robyn’s research background is in coral reef ecology: population dynamics of reef-building corals and coral reef molluscs, and impacts of predation and bleaching on corals. She was (in order) Associate Lecturer in Marine Biology at James Cook University, Townsville, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Hong Kong, Lecturer in Environmental Science at Notre Dame University in Broome, Western Australia, Lecturer in Biology at the University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji, and Associate Lecturer in Mathematics at James Cook University. In 2012, Robyn began working on bryozoan taxonomy with research grant support from Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS), and came to her current role at MTQ in 2014. Nowadays, she brings an ecological perspective to systematics and biogeographical studies using museum collections.

Selected Publications:

Cumming, R.L. & R.A. Alford. 1994.  Population dynamics of Turbonilla sp. (Pyramidellidae, Opisthobranchia¬), an ectoparasite of giant clams in mariculture. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 183: 91–111.

Cumming, R.L. 1999.  Predation on reef-building corals:  multiscale variation in the density of three corallivorous gastropods, Drupella spp. Coral Reefs 18: 147–157.

Cumming, R.L. 2002. Tissue injury predicts colony decline in reef-building corals. Marine Ecology Progress Series 242: 131–141.

Cumming, R.L. 2009a.  Population outbreaks and large aggregations of Drupella on the Great Barrier Reef.  Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Townsville (Research Publication No. 96).  Available at: http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/41189/No96DrupellaOutbreaks_AggregationsGBR.pdf, 26 pp.

Cumming, R.L. 2009b.  Case study: impact of Drupella spp. on reef-building corals of the Great Barrier Reef.  Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Townsville (Research Publication No. 97).  Available at:  http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/corp_site/info_services/publications/research_publications/rp097/No97DrupellaImpact.pdf,  44 pp.

Cumming, R.L. & Tilbrook, K.J. 2014. Six species of Calyptotheca (Bryozoa, Cheilostomata, Lanceoporidae) from the Gulf of Carpentaria and northern Australia, with description of a new species. Zootaxa, 3827(2): 147–169. http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.3827.2.2

Cumming, R.L. 2015. Two tropical species of Stephanotheca (Bryozoa, Cheilostomata, Lanceoporidae) from the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia. Zootaxa, 3948 (2): 279–286.  http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.3948.2.8

Bruce, N.L. & Cumming, R.L. 2015. A new genus of Stenetriidae Hansen, 1905 (Asellota: Isopoda: Crustacea) from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia and the southwestern Pacific. Zootaxa, 3941(4): 485–508. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.3941.4.2

Sebastian, P. & Cumming, R.L. In press. Three new species of Calyptotheca (Bryozoa, Cheilostomata, Lanceoporidae) from the Great Barrier Reef, tropical Australia. Zootaxa.

Cumming, R.L., Gordon, D.P. & Gowlett-Holmes, K. 2018. Chapter 9. Bryozoans in the marine benthos. In: Cook PL, Bock PE, Gordon DP, Weaver HJ (eds) Australian Bryozoa. Volume 1: biology, ecology and natural history. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne, pp 145–162. Available at: https://www.publish.csiro.au/book/7661/

Position

Collection Manager, Biodiversity, Museum of Tropical Queensland