Liz Reed

Dr Liz Reed

Research Fellow

School of Physical Sciences

Faculty of Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.


I am a vertebrate palaeontologist specialising in Quaternary aged cave deposits, notably in the south east region of South Australia. My particular interests are vertebrate taphonomy and site history, Quaternary palaeoclimate and biodiversity records from caves and refining megafauna extinction records.

I am a Research Fellow within the School of Physical Sciences and a member of the Environment Institute. I am also an Honorary Research Associate with the South Australian Museum.

I completed an Honours degree in vertebrate palaeontology at Flinders University, studying how kangaroo skeletons decompose and disarticulate in a natural environment. I was awarded my PhD in 2004. My thesis research involved taphonomic (fossil forensics) studies of large mammal fossils from the Pleistocene-aged deposits within the World Heritage listed Naracoorte Caves National Park. Since then I have taught at undergraduate and graduate level and continue to study cave deposits in the South East region of South Australia.

My current research projects centre on Quaternary aged vertebrate fossil deposits from caves in the Naracoorte area of the Limestone Coast region of South Australia. In collaboration with colleagues from University of Adelaide's Environment Institute and various institutions in Australia and overseas, I am working on refining the age and palaeoenvironmental context of key deposits at Naracoorte.

Current projects -:

  • Refining the chronology and environmental context of megafauna extinctions at Naracoorte.
  • Palaeontology and taphonomy of Naracoorte fossil assemblages.
  • Investigation of cave deposits found in limestone quarries at Naracoorte.
  • Review of fossil faunas including megafauna marsupials, bats, frogs and reptiles.

I am a member of the Environment Institute and Sprigg Geobiology Centre at University of Adelaide. I am also a Research Associate with the South Australian Museum.

I was named Unsung Hero of Science Communication for 2018 at the South Australian Science Excellence Awards.

Our latest article in The Conversation.

Sprigg Geobiology Centre LogoEnvironment Institute Logo

The Environment Institute Annual Report 2015 features a great story about research at Naracoorte Caves.

Check out the July 2015 issue of e-Science magazine to see my article on the fossils of Naracoorte. http://escience.realviewdigital.com/?iid=122820#folio=24

Don't forget to visit the amazing Naracoorte Caves!

 

Below - Digging for megafauna, Naracoorte Caves National Park. During the Pleistocene, megafauna and other animals fell into caves and became trapped with their remains accumulating in the cave below. Over time these remains were buried by sediments that washed or blew into the cave. Fossil bones are delicate, so we use small dental picks and brushes to expose the long buried fossils. The position of each bone is recorded in detail and samples of charcoal, bone, sediment and cave formations (speleothems) are used to determine the age of the deposits. Photo Steve Bourne. 

Digging for megafauna, Naracoorte Caves National Park. Photo Steve Bourne.

Below - Peeling back the layers in time - Liz Reed excavating in Blanche Cave (Naracoorte Caves National Park), assisted by Cath Loder. The finely layered strata are visible in the sandy cave sediments. Each layer represents a period of time. Like chapters in a book each has a story to tell about the past animals and environment at Naracoorte. Photo Steve Bourne.  

Peeling back the layers in time - Liz Reed excavating in Blanche Cave (Naracoorte Caves National Park), assisted by Cath Loder. Photo Steve Bourne.

 Below - One of the many exceptionally well preserved fossils from Naracoorte Caves. This is the skull of an extinct short-faced kangaroo. The fossil caves of the Naracoorte Caves National Park are deemed so signficant that they are World Heritage listed. Much of my research centres on these deposits. Photo Steve Bourne.

One of the many exceptionally well preserved fossils from Naracoorte Caves. This is the skull of an extinct short-faced kangaroo. Photo Steve Bourne.

Below - A tiny fossil bat dentary from the late Pleistocene of Naracoorte. Bats have lived in caves at Naracoorte for hundreds of thousands of years. Their fossil remains accumulated from natural deaths beneath roosts in the caves. Other small vertebrates such as rodents and dasyurids fell victim to owl predation, forming large accumulations derived from owl pellets. Photo Liz Reed 

A tiny fossil bat dentary from the late Pleistocene of Naracoorte. Photo Liz Reed

 

Science communication and community service

March 2017 - Faculty of Science, University of Adelaide stand at South East Field Days, Lucindale SA. I ran a fossil sorting activity and provided information regarding courses.

June 2017 - Inspiring South Australia regional science hubs meeting.

 

 

  • 2017 ARC Linkage Project Scheme. LP160101249 Dr Lee Arnold, Prof. Bob Hill, Dr Elizabeth Reed, Prof. Alan Cooper, Assoc. Prof. Jeremy Austin, Dr John Tibby, Associate Professor Russell Drysdale; Dr John Hellstrom; Dr Gilbert Price; Dr Helen Macdonald; Dr Daniel Rogers; Dr Mark Hutchinson; Adjunct Professor Nigel Spooner. Naracoorte caves: a critical window on faunal extinctions and past climates. $669,000.
  • 2017 Babara Kidman Women's Fellowship, Dr Elizabeth Reed, University of Adelaide. $20,000.
  • 2016 DVCR Interdisciplinary Research Grants University of Adelaide - Dr Elizabeth Reed, Professor Alan Cooper, Dr Lee Arnold, Dr John Tibby, Professor Nigel Spooner. Preliminary investigation of Quaternary vertebrate fossil sites from caves in central and northwest Tasmania: testing a multi-proxy approach for reconstructing past biodiversity and environment. $23,600.
  • 2015 Environment Institute grant - Refining the timing and palaeoenvironmental context for megafauna extinction records at Naracoorte, South Australia. EI Investigators – Dr Liz Reed (CI), Dr Lee Arnold, Dr Francesca McInerney, Dr John Tibby, Dr Jonathan Tyler and Dr Juraj Farkas. $50,000.

My current undergraduate teaching includes:

PALAEO3500 Field Palaeontology

ECOTOUR2500 Perspectives in science based ecotourism (course coordinator)

PALAEO3005 Geochronology, Fossils and Palaeoenvironments III

ENVBIOL3590 Evolutionary Biology III

 

Below - The reconstructed skeleton of Thylacoleo carnifex looms large over the fossil bed in Victoria Fossil Cave, Naracoorte Caves NP. Photo Steve Bourne

The reconstructed skeleton of Thylacoleo carnifex looms large over the fossil bed in Victoria Fossil Cave, Naracoorte Caves NP. Photo Steve Bourne

 

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  • Memberships

    Date Role Membership Country
    2016 - ongoing Member Geological Society of Australia Australia
    2016 - ongoing Australian Mammal Society Australia
    2015 - ongoing CSIRO Scientists in Schools Australia
    2015 - ongoing Member Society of Vertebrate Paleontology United States
    2015 - ongoing Member Australasian Cave and Karst Management Association
    2009 - ongoing Member Australasian Quaternary Association
  • Position: Research Fellow
  • Phone: 83132044
  • Email: liz.reed@adelaide.edu.au
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Mawson Laboratories
  • Org Unit: Earth Sciences

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External Profiles