Portrait image of Dr Ainsley Seago.

Dr Ainsley Seago

Dr Ainsley Seago: phylogenetic systematics of beetles

Dr Ainsley Seago is working on phylogenetic systematics of beetles as part of the Beetle Tree of Life project.

  • 12 January 2009 | Updated 24 April 2013

In this article

  1. Overview
  2. Publishing History


Page 1 of 2

Current activities

Dr Ainsley Seago is a Postdoctoral Fellow in CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences working under the direction of Dr Adam Slipinski.

Dr Seago's current research is on phylogenetic systematics of beetles as part of the Beetle Tree of Life (BToL) project, an international collaboration devoted to resolving evolutionary relationships within the order Coleoptera. She will contribute to the development, coordination, and analysis of BToL’s large morphological dataset.

Dr Seago's research uses morphological and molecular data to infer beetle relationships at multiple phylogenetic levels, from genus to family to order.

Complementary taxonomic projects are dedicated to documenting the tremendous diversity of Australia’s little-studied camiarine leiodids, a morphologically and ecologically unusual group of beetles found only in the Southern Hemisphere, with a majority of species occurring only in Australia.

Dr Seago is looking at beetle relationships using morphological and molecular data.

Another major research interest is the evolution, function, and photonic properties of iridescence mechanisms in Coleoptera. 

In 2008, Dr Seago and co-authors published a synthesis and review of beetle iridescence as well as new findings on diffraction gratings.

Dr Seago is currently involved in an ANIC-based survey of unusual structural colours in insects, and is developing a collaborative project to investigate the evolution of the three-dimensional photonic crystals that give rise to 'opal' iridescence in weevils.


In 1999, Dr Seago began her research into beetle systematics and iridescence at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, USA. Dr Seago described the first observed instance of spectral iridescence in fungus beetles.

As an undergraduate, she completed honours research on the morphology of the leiodid genus Chiliopelates, including a brief stint working on alpha taxonomy of alticine chrysomelids at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, USA.

From 2003 to 2008, Dr Seago continued her research at the University of California, Berkeley on the taxonomy and phylogenetics of the southern-hemisphere leiodid subfamily Camiarinae. She described several new species and genera and used nucleotide sequence data to infer relationships within the family Leiodidae.

Academic qualifications

Dr Seago has been awarded a:

  • Bachelor of Science in Entomology, magna cum laude with honours in research, from Cornell University, USA, 2003
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from the University of California, Berkeley, USA, 2008.


Dr Seago has achieved the following:

  • US National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, 2007
  • Grant from Linnean Society Systematics Research Fund, 2007
  • Awarded prize for best student presentation at the first International Conference on Iridescence, February 9th, 2008.

Find out more about Beetle research at the Australian National Insect Collection.