Dr Rob Adlard

Rob specialises in the study of parasites with a primary focus on the protozoan parasties of aquatic animals and wildlife.

Dr Rob Adlard

Living on Heron Island, on the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland for 3 years during study for his doctorate on the parasites of fishes, Rob developed a fascination for the reef. He became familiar with many of the fish and invertebrate species that form the kaleidoscope of animal forms on the reef.  Since then, his research interests on the interactions of parasites and their hosts have continued with collaborative research on protozoan, digenean and monogenean parasites of coral reef fish.

He has worked with the aquaculture industry on pathogens of shellfish, and on those parasites that cause 'QX disease' and 'winter mortality' in commercial rock oysters in Australia. Recently, his research, in partnership with the Fisheries Research & Development Corporation (FRDC), uncovered the life-cycle of the QX parasite, a result hailed as a scientific breakthrough in the management of this major impediment to Australia's oyster industry.

Rob joined the Queensland Museum in 1996 to curate the collections of protozoa which include the International Reference Centre for Avian Haematozoa (IRCAH), a collection of over 60,000 specimens of blood-borne parasites of birds, donated to the Queensland Museum from Memorial University in Canada. Rob broadened his research interests to include blood-borne parasites of birds and led a research project to determine the taxonomy and biology of haematozoan parasites of birds in southeast Queensland in collaboration with the Currumbin Sanctuary, Gold Coast. He is now a core participant in a bid for US funds from the National Science Foundation to provide a research co-ordination network to promote and mentor scientific study on Hemosporida – the taxonomic group that includes blood parasites (e.g. malaria) of birds and other animals.

In 2004 Rob was the first Queensland Museum scientist to be formally cross-appointed to the University of Queensland where his lectures unveiled the wonders of marine parasitology to undergraduate students. Since then his work group has expanded with the supervision of BSc Honours and PhD postgraduate students who have discovered the same passion as Rob for investigating the interactions of parasites with their aquatic hosts.

Recently, Rob was awarded a major research grant to investigate the biodiversity of internal parasites of coral reef fish at Lizard and Heron Islands on the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland and at Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia, with funds provided by the CReefs Australia Project, sponsored by BHP Billiton in partnership with The Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the Australian Biological Resources Study and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Rob has served Australian parasitology as a council member of the Australian Society for Parasitology and as a member of the Society's Executive Council. He was a member of managerial committee of the ARC/NHMRC Network for Parasitology, is an external member of the federal government's Biosecurity Australia risk assessment team, and is recognised as a Regional Resource Expert for aquaculture centres of SE Asia.

Research interests

Parasitology of aquatic animals and of terrestrial wildlife, coral reef biology, dynamics of host/parasite interactions


Associate Honorary, Queensland Museum

Adjunct Senior Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences, UQ


BSc(Hons), PhD

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