Dr Marianne Horak: Biology and Systematics of Australian Lepidoptera
Dr Marianne Horak studies the systematics, phylogeny and biology of Australian moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera), especially the economically important sub-families Olethreutinae and Phycitinae.
8 January 2008 | Updated 24 April 2013
Dr Horak is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Australian National Insect Collection (ANIC), having retired from full-time employment in July 2010.
Dr Horak's systematic research is focussed on the Oriental-Australian Lepidoptera fauna, particularly the economically important subfamilies Olethreutinae and Phycitinae.
Her systematic research is focussed on the Oriental-Australian Lepidoptera fauna, particularly the economically important subfamilies Olethreutinae and Phycitinae.
With only 50 per cent of the Australian Lepidoptera species described, her work is concentrating on the generic level.
The main focus of her work is the completion of a revision of the approximately 40 Australian genera of the Phycita group (Phycitinae) for a volume in the Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera series.
Dr Horak is also the editor-in-chief of this Monograph series.
After completing her doctorate, Dr Horak joined CSIRO in 1983 as a visiting scientist. She was then awarded a CSIRO postdoctoral fellowship (1986-88), studying tortricid morphology and phylogeny with particular emphasis on pheromone evolution.
With biology always an important aspect of her taxonomic studies she has been extensively collaborating with the pheromone and biocontrol sections of the former CSIRO Division of Entomology. Her revisionary work is phylogeny-based and focussed at the generic level in an effort to produce a classification that is biologically meaningful and hence predictive.
Genera defined according to such criteria allow decision-making for applied entomologists and quarantine authorities even if a species is unnamed.
Dr Horak has been awarded a:
- Diploma in Natural Sciences, Entomology, from the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zürich, Switzerland
- Doctor of Philosophy also from ETH.
Dr Horak published a revision of the 90 Australian genera of the horticulturally important Olethreutinae, including the codling moth and macadamia nut borer.
In January 2008, this monograph was awarded the first biennial JO Westwood Medal by the Royal Entomological Society and the Entomology Department of The Natural History Museum, London, for the best taxonomic work on a group of insects or related arthropods.
Her tortricid chapter in the Handbook of Zoology is accepted as the current standard classification for the family.
A just published study on the biology, taxonomy and phylogeny of the iconic Australian scribbly moths on eucalypts is based on a model collaboration across disciplines with Dr Max Day, Dr Celia Barlow, Dr Ted Edwards, Mr You Ning Su and Dr Stephen Cameron.
It has revealed not only a novel biology but also resolved the phylogeny of the family Bucculatricidae, identifying the scribbly moths as part of a southern sister group of Bucculatrix.
Find out more about the Australian National Insect Collection (ANIC).