Assoc Prof Luciana Möller

I am the Deputy Head of the Molecular Ecology Lab (MELFU) and Research Leader of the Cetacean Ecology, Behaviour and Evolution Lab (CEBEL) at Flinders University of South Australia.

I am a behavioural and molecular ecologist with broad research interests in the evolutionary biology of whales and dolphins.

At the intra-population level, I am interested in understanding the factors driving social evolution in dolphins and toothed whales, including their mating systems. At the inter-population level, I am interested in the evolution of population genetic structure in cetaceans and the factors driving divergence and connectivity of their populations. At a higher biodiversity level, I also investigate phylogenetic relationships and hybridisation in cetaceans.

At CEBEL I conduct projects on population behavioural ecology, investigating impacts of anthropogenic activities, habitat use and selection, population size and trends, aimed at assisting the conservation management of dolphins and whales.

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Short bio

I am an Associate Professor and Associate Dean of Teaching at the School of Biological Sciences. I am also the Course Coordinator for the BSc (Marine Biology) and a member of the Animal Welfare Committee. Between 2003 and 2008 I was a Research Fellow at Macquarie University, where I coordinated a long-term research project on dolphin sociobiology and behavioural ecology, and carried out genetic projects on marine mammals. In 2002-03 I was a Research Associate at Yale University. In 2001 I received my PhD in Environmental Studies from Macquarie University, focusing on the socio-genetic structure of bottlenose dolphins. Before my PhD, I was a Research Fellow at the Rio Grande Oceanographic Museum. I received my BSc in Oceanography from Universidade do Rio Grande (Brazil) in 1993.

For a more formal description of my work visit my Flinders staff page at:      

Interested in joining the lab?
Our contacts page contains information for potential postgraduate students and postdocs, volunteers and research visitors.


– Möller LM (2012). Sociogenetic structure, kin associations and bonding in delphinids. Molecular Ecology doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2011.05405.x.

– Amaral AR, Beheregaray LB, Bilgmann K, Boutov D, Freitas L, Robertson KM, Sequeira M, Stockin KA, Coelho MM, Möller LM (2012) Seascape genetics of a globally distributed, highly mobile marine mammal: the short-beaked common dolphin (genus Delphinus). PLoS ONE 7(2): e31482.

– Steckenreuter A, Harcourt R, Möller LM (2012). Are Speed Restriction Zones an effective management tool for minimising impacts of boats on dolphins in an Australian marine park? Journal of Marine Policy 36: 258-264.

– Wiszniewski J, Beheregaray L, Corrigan S, Möller LM (2011). Male reproductive success increases with alliance size in a population of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus). Journal of Animal Ecology DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2011.01910.x).

– Steckenreuter, A., Harcourt, R., Möller, L. (2011). Distance does matter: close approaches by boats impede feeding and resting behaviour of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins. Wildlife Research 38: 455-463.

– Wiszniewski J, Brown C, Möller LM (in press). Complex patterns of male alliance formation in a dolphin social network. Journal of Mammalogy.

– Amaral AR, Beheregaray LB, Bilgmann K, Boutov D, Freitas L, Robertson KM, Sequeira M, Stockin KA, Coelho MM, Möller LM (accepted). Seascape genetics of a globally distributed, highly mobile marine mammal: the short-beaked common dolphin (genus Delphinus). PLoS One.

– Steckenreuter A, Harcourt R, Möller LM (accepted). How does Australia’s largest dolphin-watching industry affect the behaviour of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins? Journal of Environmental Management.

– Bilgmann K, Möller LM, Harcourt RG, Kemper CM, Beheregaray LB (2011).The use of carcasses for the analysis of cetacean population genetic structure: a comparative study in two dolphin species. PLoS One 6(5): e20103.

– Amaral AR, Möller LM, Beheregaray LB, Coelho MM. Evolution of two reproductive proteins, ZP3 and PKDREJ, in Cetaceans (2011). Journal of Heredity 102: 275-282.

– Möller LM, Valdez FP, Allen SJ, Bilgmann K, Corrigan S, Beheregaray LB (2011). Fine-scale genetic structure in short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) along the East Australian Current. Marine Biology 158: 113-126.

– Wiszniewski J, Lusseau D, Möller LM. (2010) Female bisexual kinship ties maintain social cohesion in dolphin network. Animal Behaviour 80: 895-904.

– Attard C, Beheregaray LB, Jenner C, Gill P, Jenner M, Morrice M, Bannister J, LeDuc R, Möller LM. (2010) Genetic diversity and structure of blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) in Australian feeding aggregations. Conservation Genetics 11: 2437-2441.

– Wiszniewski J, Möller LM, Allen SJ, Beheregaray LB. (2010) Environmental and social influences on the genetic structure of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) in Southeastern Australia. Conservation Genetics 11: 1405-1419.         

– Amaral AR, Silva MC, Möller LM, Beheregaray LB, Coelho MM (2010) Anonymous nuclear markers for cetacean species. Conservation Genetics 11: 1143-1146.       

– Wiszniewski J, Allen SJ, Möller LM (2009). Social cohesion in a hierarchically structured embayment population of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins. Animal Behaviour 77: 1449-1457.

– Bilgmann K, Möller LM, Gales R, Harcourt R, Beheregaray LB (2009) Reply to “Clarifying the interpretation of Hamer et al. (2008) by Bilgmann et al. (2008)”. Animal Conservation 12: 289–290.

– Bilgmann K, Möller LM, Gales R, Harcourt R, Beheregaray LB. (2008) Common dolphins subject to fisheries impacts in Southern Australia are genetically differentiated: implications for conservation.  Animal Conservation 11: 518-528.

– Möller L.M., Bilgmann K., Charlton K, Beheregaray L.B. (2008) Genetic evidence for a new species of bottlenose dolphin in southern Australia. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 49: 674-681

– Möller L.M., Harcourt R.G. (2008) Shared reproductive state enhances female associations in the Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops aduncus. Research Letters in Ecology doi: 10.1155/2008/498390.

– Möller LM, Wiszniewski J, Allen SJ, Beheregaray LB (2007) Habitat type promotes rapid and localized genetic differentiation in dolphins. Marine and Freshwater Research58: 640-648

– Bilgmann K, Möller LM, Harcourt R, Beheregaray LB (2007) Genetic differentiation in bottlenose dolphins from South Australia: an association with local oceanography and coastal geography. Marine Ecology Progress Series 341: 265-276

– Bilgmann, K.; O. Griffths; S.J. Allen; L.M. Möller (2007) A biopsy pole system for bow-riding dolphins: sampling success, behavioral responses and test for sampling bias. Marine Mammal Science 23: 218–225.

– Möller, L.M.; S.J. Allen; L.B. Beheregaray and R.G. Harcourt (2006). Association patterns and kinship in female Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) of southeastern Australia. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology 61: 109-117

– Möller, L.M. and L.B. Beheregaray (2004). Genetic evidence for sex-biased dispersal in resident bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus). Molecular Ecology 13: 1607-1612

– Beheregaray L.B.; Möller L.M., Schwartz T.S., Chao N.L. and Caccone G (2004) Microsatellite markers for the cardinal tetra Paracheirodon axelrodi, a commercially important fish from central Amazonia. Molecular Ecology Notes 4: 330-332

– Beheregaray L.B.; Schwartz T.S., Möller L.M., Call D., Chao N.L. and Caccone G (2004) A set of microsatellite DNA markers for the one-lined pencilfish Nannostomus unifasciatus, an Amazonian flooded forest fish. Molecular Ecology Notes 4: 333-335

– Möller, L.M.; S.J. Allen and R.G. Harcourt (2002). Group characteristics, site fidelity and abundance of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) in Jervis Bay and Port Stephens, southeastern Australia. Australian Mammalogy 24: 11-21

– Krützen, M.; Barre, L.M.; Möller, L.M.; Heithaus, M.R.; Simms, C. and Sherwin, W.B. (2002). A biopsy system for small cetaceans: darting success and wound healing in Tursiops spp. Marine Mammal Science 18: 863-878.

– Möller, L.M.; L.B. Beheregaray; R.G. Harcourt and M. Krützen (2001). Alliance membership and kinship in wild male bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) of southeastern Australia. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B 268: 1941-1947

– Möller, L.M. and L.B. Beheregaray (2001) Coastal bottlenose dolphins from southeastern Australia are Tursiops aduncus according to sequences of the mitochondrial DNA control region. Marine Mammal Science 17: 249-263 .