Dr Robyn Cumming

Robyn Cumming

Robyn Cumming is the Collection Manager 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. Species discovery and biogeography of Bryozoa in the Gulf of Carpentaria and across northern Australia.
  2. Phylogeny of the lace coral family Lanceoporidae (Bryozoa: Smittinoidea).
  3. Taxonomy and ecology of coral reef and inter-reefal Bryozoa of the Great Barrier Reef.
  4. Ocean acidification impacts on bryozoans at volcanic CO2 vents in Papua New Guinea.

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 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., M.A. Toscano, E.R. Lovell, B.A. Carlson, N.K. Dulvy, A. Hughes, J.F. Koven, N.J. Quinn, H.R Sykes, O.J.S. Taylor, D. Vaughan. 2002. Mass coral bleaching in the Fiji Islands, 2000. Proceedings of the 9th International Coral Reef Symposium, Bali 2: 1161–1168.

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

Cumming, R.L., Aalbersberg, W.G.L., Lovell, E.R., Sykes, H. & Vuki, V.C. 2004. Coral reefs of the Fiji Islands: current issues. Reef Encounter 32: 52–56.

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

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

Position

Collection Manager, Biodiversity, Museum of Tropical Queensland