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Dr Katharina Nargar

Research Scientist


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Contact details:

PO BOX 12139


Katharina Schulte is a molecular systematist and evolutionary biologist with a research focus on tropical plant biodiversity. Her research interests lie in understanding the diversification of species-rich tropical plant groups in time and space, and the underlying factors that shaped today’s diversity. She is using molecular tools such as high throughput DNA sequencing to reconstruct evolutionary relationships and historical biogeography, investigate differences in speciation and extinction rates between lineages and examine correlations with other factors, such as past climatic change, the development of putative key innovations or other significant morphological/physiological traits. Her conservation genomic research helps to clarify the delimitation in species complexes and informs conservation management of threatened species.

Since 2010, Katharina Schulte has been working at the Australian Tropical Herbarium where she leads the ATH orchid research program. Her current research projects employ genomic approaches to reconstruct phylogenetic relationships and the spatio-temporal evolution of Australia’s major orchid lineages, in particular the highly diverse orchid tribe Diurideae (the Donkey-, Spider-, Leek orchids and Co.), the subtribe Pterostylidinae (the Greenhood orchid alliance), and the two plant mega genera Dendrobium and Bulbophyllum. A greater understanding of these orchid lineages is key for the establishment of a more stable and widely accepted taxonomic classification of Australasian orchids.

Current Roles

  • Research Scientist
    Research in tropical plant systematics and evolutionary biology

Academic Qualifications

  • 2000

    Diploma in Biology (eqiv. to British Masters degree), with HD
    Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany

  • 2007

    PhD (Dr. phil. nat.), with summa cum laude
    Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany


  • 2016-2019

    Orchid phylogenomics: Diversification, evolution and systematics of the hyperdiverse subtribe Bulbophyllinae. Hermon Slade Foundation.

  • 2016-2019

    Improving condercation outcomes for pitcher plants by resolving controversies in their taxonomy and understanding their evolution. Australian and Pacific Science Foundation.

  • 2015-2018

    Next-generation systematics for Australia's challenging taxa: unravelling phylogeny, evolution and species delimitation in the sun orchids (Thelymitra, Orchidaceae). Australian Biological Resources Study.

  • 2015-2016

    An exome capture system for phylogenetic and evolutionary studies in the hyperdiverse orchid tribe Diurideae (Orchidoideae). Center for Biodiversity Analysis.

  • 2015-2018

    Next-generation tassle-fern systematics:species delimiation in the Phlegmariurus phlegmaria complex (Lycopodiaceae). Australian Biological Resources Study.

  • 2014-2016

    Framework DNA barcode datasets for Australia: CITES dataset. Bioplatforms Australia.

  • 2013-2014

    Next-generation sequencing capability. James Cook University.

  • 2011-2015

    Re-evaluation of taxonomic concepts in Australian Orchidaceae utilizing phylogenies based on DNA barcodes and highly informative nuclear markers. Australian Biological Resources Study.

  • 2011-2015

    What is at risk? Identifying rainforest refugia and hotspots of plant genetic diversity in the Wet Tropics and Cape York Peninsula. National Environmental Research Program.

  • 2009-2012

    Systematics and phylogeny of Fosterella (Bromeliaceae): a model case for the evolution of local endemism in the Andes. German Science Foundation.

  • 2008-2011

    Cenozoic evolution of Bromeliaceae: character evolution and climate change. German Science Foundation.

We have publications by Dr Katharina Nargar