Staff profile - Lee Rollins

Staff image

Dr Lee Rollins

Position: ARC DECRA Fellow
Faculty or Division: Faculty of Sci Eng & Built Env
Department: School of Life & Env. Sciences
Campus: Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus
Phone: +61 3 522 72084 +61 3 522 72084



Deakin University, ARC DECRA (2015-Present)

Deakin University, Research Fellow (2012-2015)

Macquarie University, Research Fellow (2011-2012)

University of New South Wales, Research Associate (2010-2011)

Macquarie University, Research Fellow (2009-2010)

University of New South Wales, PhD (Conservation Genetics), Awarded 2009

University of New South Wales, Master (Marine Science), Awarded 2000

Biography summary

I am broadly interested in the molecular ecology of invasive species, conservation genetics, avian behaviour, the genetics of social systems and how genes behave at a population level. Much of my work has focused on the role of dispersal in range expansions and the use of genetic analyses to understand contemporary population dynamics including rates of exchange between genetically separated populations. I am now investigating genes important to dispersal in order to examine the role of genetics in range expansion of invasive species.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of New South Wales, 2009

Professional activities

Genetics Society of Australasia, Treasurer, 2013-present

Australasian Evolution Society, Treasurer, 2013-present

Australasian Society for the Study of Animal Behaviour, Membership Officer, 2012-2016


Knowledge areas

Population genetics

Molecular ecology

Conservation genetics

Student supervision

PhD students
Adam Cardilini, Determining genetic and phenotypic variation of a successful invasive species within Australia, the common starling, Sturnus vulgaris, (with Craig Sherman and Kate Buchanan, completed 2016)

Peri Bolton, Genetics of a colour polymorphism in the Gouldian finch, (Macquaire University, with Simon Griffith) 

Sam Andrew, The genetic adaption of the house sparrow to Australian climate conditions (Macquarie University, with Simon Griffith)

Dan Selechnik, Genetics of immune function in the Australian cane toad invasion, (University of Sydney, with Rick Shine)

Andrea West, The role of personality in dispersal: A transcriptomic investigation of gene express in brain tissue of invasive cane toads, (Deakin University, with Mark RIchardson)

Honours students
Ellen Couchman, Rapid morphological change in introduced starlings in Australia (UNSW, with Angela Moles and Bill Sherwin, 2010)

Ashleigh Butler, Is there molecular evidence for selection in invasive starling populations? (Deakin University, with Kate Buchanan and Bill Sherwin, 2013)

Emma Trussler, Joint nesting in thrips - all in the family? (Deakin University, with James Gilbert, 2014)

Jack Reid,  Is pheromone suppression of invasive cane toads controlled by epigenetic mechanisms? (Deakin University, with Rick Shine, 2015)

Andrea West, The role of pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) in driving suites of correlated traits. (Deakin University, with Kerry Fanson, 2015)

Conferences and seminars


Annual Meeting of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution, Vienna, Austria, Avian Molecular Evolution Symposium (organiser)

Australasian Society for the Study of Animal Behaviour Conference, Katoomba,  Australia, Public Lecture


Annual Meeting of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution, Vienna, Austria

Behaviour 2015, Cairns, Australia (oral presentation and symposium orgnaiser)


Invasion Genetics: The Baker and Stebbens Legacy, Asilomar, California, USA

Genetics Society of Australasia 2014, Sydney Australia


Genetics Society of Australasia 2013, Sydney, Australia

Australasian Evolution Society Conference, Geelong, Australia


Australasian Society for the Study of Animal Behaviour Conference, Geelong,  Australia

Genetics Society of Australasia 59th Annual Conference, Melbourne, Australia


International Invasive Bird Conference, Fremantle, Australia

Australasian Wildlife Management Society 21st Annual Conference, Fremantle, Australia


The 6th International Zoo and Wildlife Research Conference on Behaviour, Physiology and Genetics, Berlin, Germany 

ConGen3: The 3rd International Conservation Genetics Symposium, American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA

Australasian Evolution Society 5th Annual Conference, Sydney, Australia

Genetics Society of Australasia 54th Annual Conference, Sydney, Australia

Biodiversity Extinction Crisis Conference – A Pacific Response, (Society for Conservation Biology Australasian Section), Sydney, Australia.


13th Annual Australasian Pest Management Conference, Wellington, NZ. (Full paper).


Research projects

Honours and PhD projects are available to investigate genetic and epigenetic drivers of invasion using cane toads and starlings as model species. We also welcome students interested in studying bioinformatics.



Selected publications:

Sherman C, Lotterhos K, Richardson MF, Tepolt C, Rollins LA, Palumbi S and Miller A (accepted 03/08/16). What are we missing about marine invasions? Filling in the gaps with evolutionary genomics. Marine Biology.

Bolton P, Rollins LA, Griffith SC (2016). Colour polymorphism is likely to be disadvantageous to some populations and species due to genetic architecture and ecological interactions. Molecular Ecology, 25:2713-2718. 

Rollins LA, Woolnough AP, Fanson BG, Cummins ML, Crowley TM, Wilton AN, Sinclair R, Butler A, Sherwin WB (2016). Selection on mitochondrial variants occurs between and within individuals in an expanding invasion. Molecular Biology & Evolution. 33:995-1007.

Chao A., Jost L., Hsieh T.C., Ma K.H., Sherwin W.B. and Rollins L.A. (2015). Expected Shannon entropy and Shannon differentiation between subpopulations for neutral genes under the finite island model. PLoS ONE, 10(6): e0125471.

Rollins L.A., Richardson M.F., Shine R. (2015). A genetic perspective on rapid evolution in cane toads (Rhinella marina). Molecular Ecology, 24:2264-2276.

Bolton P., Rollins L.A., Griffith S.C. (2015). The danger within: interactions between colour morphs and the persistence of populations. Molecular Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/mec.13201.

Rollins LA, Whitehead MR, Woolnough A.P., Sinclair R., Sherwin W.B. (2015). Is there evidence of selection in the dopamine receptor D4 gene in Australian invasive starling populations? Current Zoology, 61:509-519.

McCowan L., Rollins L.A. and Griffith S.C. (2014). Personality in captivity: more exploratory males reproduce better in captivity. Behavioural Processes, 107: 150:157.

Rollins L.A., Moles A.T., Lam S., et al. (2013). High genetic diversity is not essential for successful introduction. Ecology and Evolution, 3:4501-4517.

Pryke S.R. & Rollins L.A. (2012). Mothers adjust offspring sex to match the quality of the rearing environment. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 279:4051-4057.

Browning L.E., Patrick S.C., Rollins L.A., Griffith S.C. and Russell A.F. (2012). Kin selection not group augmentation predicts helper investment in an obligate cooperatively breeding bird. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 279:3861-3869.

Rollins L.A., Svedin N., Pryke S.R., and Griffith S.C. (2012). The role of the Ord Arid Intrusion in the historical and contemporary genetic division of long-tailed finch subspecies in northern Australia. Ecology and Evolution, 2:1208-1219.

Rollins L.A., Browning L.E., Holleley C.E., Savage J.L., Russell A.F. and Griffith S.C. (2012). Building genetic networks using relatedness information: a novel approach for the estimation of dispersal and characterisation of group structure in social animals. Molecular Ecology, 21:1727-1740.      

Pryke S.R., Rollins L.A. and Griffith, S.C. (2011). Context-dependent sex allocation: constraints on the expression and evolution of maternal effects. Evolution. 65:2792-2799.

Rollins L.A., Woolnough A.P., Sinclair R., Mooney N., and Sherwin W.B. (2011). Mitochondrial DNA offers unique insights into invasion history. Molecular Ecology, 20:2307-2317. 

Pryke S.R., Rollins L.A., and Griffith S.C. (2010).  Females use multiple mating and genetically loaded sperm competition to target compatible genes. Science, 329:964-967.

Rollins L.A., Woolnough A.P., Wilton A., Sinclair R., and Sherwin W.B. (2009). Invasive species can’t cover their tracks: Using microsatellites to assist management of starling (Sturnus vulgaris) populations in Western Australia. Molecular Ecology, 18:1560-1573.

Rollins L.A., Woolnough A.P., and Sherwin W.B. (2006). Population genetics tools for pest management: A review. Wildlife Research, 33:251-261.

Link to publications

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