Phoenix Group

Evolutionary Ecology & Genetics


Gillian Gibb<>

I am interested in the molecular evolution of birds and animals.  My research interests include New Zealand birds, island avian assemblages, the impact of the KT boundary on avian evolution, mitochondrial genome assembly, gene order, long branch attraction, phylogenetics and systematics.

I completed my PhD with Professor David Penny in 2010, and since then have undertaken postdoctoral positions at the Australian National University in Canberra, and the University of Montpellier II in France. My previous research has revolved around mitochondrial genomes and phylogenetics of birds, marsupials and Xenarthrans (armadillos, anteaters and sloths).

Now, as a Rutherford postdoctoral fellow I am expanding into comparative genomics to investigate the genetic architecture of flightlessness in island birds. My particular focus is on the New Zealand rails, including takahe, pukeko, weka, and banded rails. I am using Next Generation Sequencing technology and bioinformatics handling tools to correlate traits and genes.

Gillian Gibbs

Gibb GC
, England R, Hartig G, McLenachan PA, Taylor Smith BL, McComish BJ, Cooper A, Penny D. 2015. New Zealand passerines help clarify the diversification of major songbird lineages during the Oligocene. Genome Biology and Evolution (Advance Access)

Gibb GC, Condamine FL, Kuch M, Enk J, Moraes-Barros N, Superina M, Poinar HN, Delsuc F. 2015. Shotgun mitogenomics provides a reference phylogenetic framework and timescale for living xenarthrans. Molecular Biology and Evolution (Advance Access)

Garcia–R JC, Gibb GC, Trewick SA. 2014. Deep global evolutionary radiation in birds: Diversification and trait evolution in the cosmopolitan bird family Rallidae. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 81, 96-108. Online

Garcia–R JC, Gibb GC, Trewick SA. 2014. Eocene diversification of crown group rails (Aves: Gruiformes: Rallidae) PLOS ONE 9 (10), e109635.

WG Dodt WG, McComish BJ, Nilsson MA, Gibb GC, Penny D, Phillips MJ. 2014. The complete mitochondrial genome of the eastern grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus). Mitochondrial DNA. Early Online 1-2.

Mitchell KJ, Pratt RC, Watson LN, Gibb GC, Llamas B, Kasper M, Edson J, Hopwood B, Male D, Armstrong KN, Meyer M, Hofreiter M, Austin JJ, Donnellan SC, Lee MSY, Phillips MJ, Cooper A 2014. Molecular phylogeny, biogeography, and habitat preference evolution of marsupials. Molecular Biology and Evolution 31:2322-2330. MT, McLenachan PA, Gibb GC and Penny D. 2014. Phylogenetic position of avian nocturnal and diurnal raptors. Genome Biology and Evolution 6:326-332.

Gibb GC, Kennedy M and Penny D. 2013. Beyond Phylogeny: Pelecaniform and Ciconiiform Birds, and Long-Term Niche Stability. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 68:229-238.

Gibb GC and Hills SFK. 2013. Intergenerational mutation rate does not equal long-term evolutionary substitution rate. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA. 110:e611

Phillips MJ, Haouchar D, Pratt RC, Gibb GC, Bunce M. 2013. Inferring kangaroo phylogeny from incongruent nuclear and mitochondrial genes. PLoS ONE. 8:e57745

Bromham L, Lanfear R, Cassey P, Gibb GC, Cardillo M. 2012. Reconstructing past species assemblages reveals the changing patterns and drivers of extinction through time. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 279:4024-4032.

Saurabh K, Holland BR, Gibb GC and Penny D. 2012. Gaps, an elusive source of phylogenetic information. Point of View. Systematic Biology 61:1075-1082

Gibb GC and D Penny. 2010. Two aspects along the continuum of pigeon evolution: A South-Pacific radiation and the relationship of pigeons within Neoaves. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 56:698-706

Phillips MJ, Gibb GC, Crimp EA and Penny D. 2010. Tinamous and Moa Flock Together: Mitochondrial Genome Sequence Analysis Reveals Independent Losses of Flight Among Ratites. Systematic Biology 59:90-107.

Trewick S and Gibb GC. 2010. Vicars, Tramps and the Assembly of New Zealand Avifauna – A review of molecular phylogenetic evidence. Ibis 152: 226-253.

Pratt RC, Gibb GC, Morgan-Richards M, Phillips MJ, Hendy MD, and Penny D. 2009. Toward Resolving Deep Neoaves Phylogeny: Data, Signal Enhancement, and Priors. Molecular Biology and Evolution 26:313-326.

Millar CD, Dodd A, Anderson J, Gibb GC, Ritchie PA, Baroni C, Woodhams MD, Hendy MD, and Lambert DM. 2008. Mutation and Evolutionary Rates in Adélie Penguins from the Antarctic. PLoS Genetics 4:e1000209.

Gibb GC, Kardailsky O, Kimball RT, Braun EL, and Penny D. 2007. Mitochondrial Genomes and Avian Phylogeny: Complex Characters and Resolvability without Explosive Radiations. Molecular Biology and Evolution 24:269-280.

Phillips M, McLenachan P, Down C, Gibb G, and Penny D. 2006. Combined Mitochondrial and Nuclear DNA Sequences Resolve the Interrelations of the Major Australasian Marsupial Radiations. Systematic Biology 55:122-137.

Ritchie PA, Millar CD, Gibb GC, Baroni C, and Lambert DM. 2004. Ancient DNA Enables Timing of the Pleistocene Origin and Holocene Expansion of Two Adélie Penguin Lineages in Antarctica. Molecular Biology and Evolution. 21:240-248.


Hanging out with a giant ground sloth (Megatherium americanum) in the Natural History Museum, London


Working with Adelie penguin chicks in Antarctica

To find out about my collaborators and their research, follow the links:
David Penny – Massey University
Centre for Macroevolution and Macroecology – Australian National University, Australia
Matt Phillips – Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution – Université Montpellier II, France
McMaster Ancient DNA Centre – McMaster University, Canada