Dr Lee Ann Rollins
Scientia Fellow
Field of Research: 
Invasion genetics, molecular ecology, evolution
Contact details:
+61 9385 6316

Room 4109, Level 4
Biological Sciences South (E26)
UNSW, Kensington 2052

See also: https://twitter.com/rollins_lee

Research & Current Projects


My research uses genetic and epigenetic data to examine population and evolutionary processes. Specifically, I am interested in using molecular data to explain the mechanisms underlying rapid evolution often seen in invasive populations and improve the management of invasive and conserved species.


The evolution of phenotypic plasticity during a biological invasion.

Deciphering the blueprint of an invasion machine: genetic and epigenetic drivers of the Australian cane toad invasion.

Genome-wide analysis of a ring species and host-virus model.

Cane toad genome consortium.

Common starling genome consortium.


Research Students

Dan Selechnik (PhD), University of Sydney (2015-present), co-supervisor.  “The genetic basis of immune function in invasive cane toads.”

Andrea West (PhD), Deakin University (2016-present), primary/external supervisor. “The role of personality in dispersal: A transcriptomic investigation of gene expression in brain tissue of invasive cane toads.”

Roshmi Sarma (PhD), Deakin University (2016-present), primary/external supervisor. “How does phenotypic plasticity facilitate invasion?”

Jia Zhou (PhD), University of Adelaide (2017-present), co-supervisor. “Gut microbiome and brain function in invasive cane toads.”

Kat Stuart (PhD), University of New South Wales, (commencing Feb 2018), primary supervisor.  “Evolution and plasticity in replicated invasion experiments: using genomics to reveal drivers of invasion success in European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) introductions across multiple continents.”


Adam Cardilini (PhD), Deakin University (2011-2016), co-supervisor. “Genetic and phenotypic variation of a successful invasive species, the common starling, in Australia: the consequences for invasion success.”

Peri Bolton (PhD), Macquarie University (2013-2017), co-supervisor. “Conservation genetics of the Gouldian finch.”

Sam Andrew (PhD), Macquarie University (2014-2017), co-supervisor. “The genetic adaptation of the house sparrow to Australian climate conditions.”

Ellen Couchman (Hons), UNSW (2010), co-supervisor. “Rapid morphological change in introduced starlings in Australia.”

Ashleigh Butler (Hons), Deakin University (2014), primary supervisor. “Is there evidence for selection on mitochondrial genes in invasive starling populations?”

Emma Trussler (Hons), Deakin University (2014), primary supervisor. “Joint-nesting in thrips – all in the family?”

Jack Reid (Hons), Deakin University (2015), primary supervisor. “Epigenetics of invasive cane toads.”

Andrea West (Hons), Deakin University (2015), co-supervisor. “The role of pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) in driving suites of correlated traits.”


Recent Publications

Andrew S.A., Awasthy M., Bolton P.E., Rollins L.A., Nakagawa S., Griffith S.C. (accepted 26/11/17). The genetic structure of the introduced house sparrow populations in Australia and New Zealand is consistent with historical descriptions. Biological Invasions.

Richardson M.F., Sequieira F., Selechnik D., Carneiro M., Vallinoto M., Reid J.G., West A.J., Crossland M.R., Shine R., Rollins L.A. (2017). Improving amphibian genomic resources: a multi-tissue reference transcriptome of an iconic invader. GigaScience, gix114, https://doi.org/10.1093/gigascience/gix114.

Eastwood J.R., Ribot R.F.H., Rollins L.A., Buchanan K.L., Walder K., Bennett A.T.D., Berg M.L. (2017). Host heterozygosity and genotype rarity affect viral dynamics in an avian subspecies complex. Scientific Reports, 7:13310.

Selechnik D., West A.J., Brown G.P., Fanson K.V., Addison B., Rollins L.A., Shine R. (2017). Effects of invasion history on immune and stress responses to lipopolysaccharide in invasive Australian cane toads (Rhinella marina). PeerJ, 5, e3856.

Richardson MF, Sherwin WB, Rollins L.A. (2017). De novo assembly of the liver transcriptome of the European starling, Sturnus vulgaris. Journal of Genomics, 5:54-57.

Bolton P.E., Rollins L.A., Brazill-Boast J., Maute K.L., Burke T.A., Griffith S.C. (2017). The colour of paternity: extra-pair paternity in the wild Gouldian finch does not appear to be driven by genetic incompatibility between morphs. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 30:174-190.

Selechnik D., Rollins L.A., Brown G.P., Kelehear C., Shine R. (2016). The things they carried: the pathogenic effects of old and new parasites following the intercontinental invasion of the Australian cane toad (Rhinella marina). International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijppaw.2016.12.001

Bolton P.E., West A.J., Cardilini A.P.A., Clark J.A., Maute K.L., Legge, S., Brazill-Boast J., Griffith S.C., Rollins L.A. (2016). Three molecular markers show no evidence of population genetic structure in the Gouldian finch (Erythrura gouldiae). PLOS ONE, e0167723.

Sherman C., Lotterhos K., Richardson M.F, Tepolt C., Rollins L.A., Palumbi S. and Miller A.  (2016). What are we missing about marine invasions? Filling in the gaps with evolutionary genomics. Marine Biology, 163:198.

Bolton, P., Rollins L.A., Griffith S.C. (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 L.A., Woolnough A.P., Fanson B.G., Cummins M.L., Crowley T.M., Wilton A.N., Sinclair R., Butler A., Sherwin W.B. (2016). Selection on mitochondrial variants occurs between and within individuals in an expanding invasion. Molecular Biology & Evolution. 33:995-1007.

Van Rooij E., Rollins L.A., Holleley C.E., Griffith S.C. (2016). Extra-pair paternity in the long-tailed finch Poephila acuticauda. PeerJ. 4:e1550.

McDonald P.G., Rollins L.A., Godfrey S. (2016). The relative importance of spatial proximity, kin selection and potential ‘greenbeard’ signals on helping behaviour in a cooperative bird. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology. 70:133-143.

Campbell S., Roberts E.J., Craemer R., Pacioni C., Rollins L.A. and Woolnough A.P. (2016). Assessing the economic benefits of starling detection and control to Western Australia. Australasian Journal of Environmental Management. 23:81-99.