Professor Bennett's current research is in comparative vertebrate morphology, and fish biology. The biomechanical and functional morphological studies currently include studies of marsupial locomotion and the functional morphology of bird claws, particularly in relation to foraging behaviour and early bird evolution.

Professor Bennett is involved in a number of collaborative projects investigating the mechanics of marsupial locomotion, and vertebrate soft connective tissue and mineralised tissue biomechanics. Research involving fishes focus on the biology of sharks and rays of Moreton Bay and the southern Great Barrier Reef, including, but not limited to whaler sharks, wobbegong and carpet sharks, grey nurse sharks, rays (manta, mobula, eagle- and stingrays). Our research spans population biology, feeding ecology, stress physiology, reproduction, parasitology, genetics, fisheries, growth and aging, and mechanics. Our laboratory has collaborative links with researchers from Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Southern Africa, USA, France, UK and Indonesia.

Project MantaProject Manta - WA

ARC-Linkage funded Project (2015-2018; $315,000) - a collaboaration of scientists and industry partners to examine the connectivity of manta ray populations around the Australian coastline and possible interchange with Indonesian populations using a suite of approaches.

Grey nurse shark: Exploring population size and recovery

Winnifred V Scott funded project (2015-2016; $52,703) to collect census data on the grey nurse shark population along Australia's east coast with the aid of citizen science, in order to assess the effectiveness of the Recovery Plan for this species.  Dr Carley Bansemer is principal researcher on this project.

Parasites of commercial fishes of Moreton Bay: a multi-disciplinary analysis of diversity

ABRS funded project (2015-2017; $297,000) that employs the disparate skills of prominent taxonomists to examine the diversity of parasites infecting fishes of commercial value within the southeastern marine region of Queensland (Assoc. Professor Tom Cribb and Dr Scott Cutmore - Team leaders)

Population units of the yellownose and roughskin skates in Chile

Chilean Fisheries funded project (2014-2015; $85,000) to determine the identity of skates in the commercial fishery and their population structure.  This morphlogical and genetic analysis forms a major part of Carolina Vargas-Caro's PhD studies at UQ, with the involvement of the MFL (UQ).

Grey nurse shark DNA studies

A CSIRO funded project (2015-2016; $44,880) to develop techniques to collect DNA from grey nurse sharks for in-depth analysis of their DNA.  This forms part of Ms Deborah Bowden's PhD  studies of this species. 


  1. Armstrong, A.O., Armstrong, A.J., Jaine, F.R.A., Couturier, L.I.E., Fiora, K., Uribe-Palomino, J., Weeks, S.J., Townsend, K.A., Bennett, M.B. & Richardson, A.J. (2016). Prey density threshold and tidal influence on reef manta ray foraging at an aggregation site on the Great Barrier Reef. PLoS ONE 11: e0153393. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0153393
  2. Bennett, M.B., Coman, F.F., Townsend, K.A., Couturier, L.I.E., Jaine, F.R.A. & Richardson, A.J. (2016). A historical and contemporary consideration of the diet of the reef manta ray (Manta alfredi) from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Mar. Freshw. Res.
  3. Burgess, K. & Bennett, M.B. (2016). Effects of ethanol storage and lipid and urea extraction on δ15N and δ13C isotope ratios in a benthic elasmobranch; the bluespotted maskray Neotrygon kuhlii. J. Fish Biol. Online doi:10.1111/jfb.13164
  4. Burgess, K., Couturier, L., Marshall, A., Richardson, A., Weeks, S. & Bennett, M.B. (2016). Manta birostris, predator of the deep? Insights into the diet of the giant manta ray using stable isotope analysis. Roy. Soc. Open Sci. DOI:10.1098/rsos.16717
  5. Dudgeon, C.L., Bennett, M.B. & Kyne, P.M. (2016). Chiloscyllium punctatum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T41872A68616745.
  6. Frost, A.-M., Jacobsen, I. & Bennett, M.B. (2016). The diet of the coffin ray, Hypnos monopterygius (Shaw, 1795) and predation mode inferred from jaw, dentition and electric organ morphology. Mar. Freshw. Res.
  7. Kyne, P.M., Courtney, A.J., Jacobsen, I.P. & Bennett, M.B. (2016). Reproductive parameters of rhinobatid and urolophid batoids taken as bycatch in the Queensland (Australia) East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery. J. Fish Biol. 89, 1208-1226. DOI:10.1111/jfb.13020
  8. Bustamante, C., Bennett, M.B. & Ovenden, J.R. (2016) Genetype and phylogenomic position of the frilled shark Chlamydoselachus anguineus inferred from the mitochondrial genome. Mitochond. DNA. DOI: 10.1080/23802359.2015.1137801
  9. Nielsen, E.E., Morgan, J.A.T., Maher, S.L., Edson, J., Gauthier, M., Pepperell, J., Holmes, B.J., Bennett, M.B. & Ovenden, J.R. (2016). Extracting DNA from “jaws”: high yield and quality from archived tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) skeletal material. Mol. Ecol. Res. DOI: 10.1111/1755-0998.12580
  10. Ovenden, J.R., Leigh, G.M., Blower, D.C., Jones, A.T., Moore, A., Bustamante, C., Buckworth, R.C., Bennett, M.B. & Dudgeon, C.L. (2016). Can estimates of genetic effective population size contribute to fisheries stock assessments? J. Fish Biol. DOI: 10.1111/jfb.13129
  11. Stephan, C.N., Priesler, R., Bulut, O. & Bennett, M. (2016). Turning the tables of sex distinction in craniofacial identification: Why females possess thicker facial soft tissues tan males, not viceversa. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.23029
  12. Taylor, S. M., Harry, A. V. & Bennett, M. B. (2016). Living on the edge: Latitudinal variations in the reproductive biology of two coastal species of sharks in Australia. J. Fish Biol. (Early view online 16/09/16: DOI: 10.1111/jfb.13126.


  1. Bowden, D.L., Vargas-Caro, C., Ovenden, J.R., Bennett, M.B., Bustamante, C. (2015). The phylogenomic position of the grey nurse shark Carcharias taurus Rafinesque, 1810 (Lamniformes, Odontaspididae) inferred from the mitochondrial genome. Mitochond. DNA DOI: 10.3109/19401736.2015.1089486
  2. Gauthier, A.R.G., Whitehead, D.L., Bennett, M.B. & Tibbetts, I.R. (2015). Morphology of the teleost ampullary organs in marine salmontail catfish Neoarius graeffei (Pisces: Ariidae) with comparative analysis to freshwater and estuarine conspecifics. J. Morphol. Published online 22/5/15. DOI: 10.1002/jmor.20396
  3. Holmes, B., Peddemors, V., Gutteridge, A., Geraghty, P., Chan, R., Tibbetts, I. & Bennett, M. (2015). Age and growth of the tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) off the east coast of Australia. J. Fish Biol. 87, 422-448.
  4. Ooi, M., Fernando, D., Gaus, C., Villa, C., Richardson, A.J. & Townsend, K.A. (2015). Levels of arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury in the branchial plate and muscle tissue of mobulid rays. Mar. Poll. Bull. 94, 251-259.
  5. Pardo, S.A., Burgess, K.B., Teixeira, D. & Bennett, M.B. (2015). Local-scale resource partitioning by stingrays on an intertidal flat. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 533, 205-218. DOI: 10.3354/meps11358.
  6. Rohner, C.A., Richardson, A.J., Prebble, C.E.M., Marshall, A.D., Bennett, M.B., Weeks, S.J. Cliff, G., Wintner, S.P. & Pierce, S.J. (2015). Laser photogrammetry improves size and demographic estimates for whale sharks. PeerJ. 3:e886. DOI: 10.7717/peerj.886
  7. Taylor, S.M., Johnson, J.W. & Bennett, M.B. (2015). Spatial gradient in the distribution of whaler sharks (carcharhinidae) in Moreton Bay, southeastern Queensland. Mem. Qld. Mus.- Nature. 59, 1-15.
  8. Williams, S.M., Bennett, M.B., Pepperell, J.G., Morgan, J.A.T. & Ovenden, J.R. (2015). Spatial genetic subdivision among populations of the highly migratory black marlin Istiompax indica within the central Indo-Pacific Mar. Fresh. Res.
  9. Vargas-Caro, C., Bustamante, C., Lamilla, J., & Bennett, M.B. (2015). A review of longnose skates Zearaja chilensis and Dipturus trachyderma. Universitas Scient. Univ. Sci. 20, 321-359.
  10. Vargas-Caro, C., Bustamante, C., Bennett, M.B. & Ovenden, J.R. (2015). The complete validated mitochondrial genome of the skate Dipturs trachyderma (Rajiformes, Rajidae). Mitochond. DNA pp. 1-2. DOI: 10.3109/19401736.2015.1060462.


  1. Bustamante, C., Vargas-Caro, C. & Bennett, M.B. (2014). Not all fish are equal: Functional biodiversity of cartilaginous fishes (Elasmobranchii and Holocephali) in Chile . J. Fish Biol. 85, 1617-1633.
  2. Bustamante, C., Vargas-Caro, C. & Bennett, M.B. (2014). Biogeographic patterns in the cartilaginous fauna (Pisces: Elasmobranchii and Holocephali) in the southeast Pacific Ocean. PeerJ 2:e416;
  3. Couturier, L.I.E., Dudgeon, C.L., Pollock, K.H., Jaine, F.R.A., Bennett, M.B., Townsend, K.A., Weeks, S.J. & Richardson, A.J. (2014). Population dynamics of the reef manta ray Manta alfredi in eastern Australia. Coral Reefs 33, 329-342.
  4. Gutteridge, A.N. & Bennett, M.B. (2014). Functional implications of ontogenetically and sexually dimorphic dentition in the eastern shovelnose ray, Aptychotrema rostrata. J. Exp. Biol. 217, 192-200.
  5. Holmes, B., Tibbetts, I. & Bennett, M.B. (2014). Tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) movement patterns and habitat use determined by satellite tagging in eastern Australian waters. Mar. Biol. 161, 2645-2658.
  6. Jaine, F.R.A., Rohner, C.A., Weeks, S.J., Couturier, L.I.E., Bennett, M.B., Townsend, K.A. & Richardson, A.J. (2014). Movements and habitat use of reef manta rays off eastern Australia: offshore excursions, deep diving and eddy affinity revealed by satellite telemetry. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 510, 73-86.
  7. Vargas-Caro, C.,  Bustamante, C., Bennett, M.B. & Ovenden, J.R. (2014). The complete validated mitochondrial genome of the yellownose skate Zearaja chilensis (Guichenot 1848) (Rajiformes, Rajidae). Mitochond. DNA. Early online: 1-2. doi: 10.3109/19401736.2014.945530
  8. Whitehead, D.L, Gauthier, A.R.G., Mu, E.W.H., Bennett, M.B. & Tibbetts, I.R. (2014). Morphology of the ampulla of Lorenzini in juvenile freshwater Carcharhinus leucas. J. Morphol. Pub. Online DOI 10.1002/jmor.20355


  1. Biknevicius, A.R., Reilly, S.M., McElroy, E.J. & Bennett, M.B. (2013). Symmetrical gaits and center of mass mechanics in small-bodied, primitive mammals. Zoology 116, 67-74.
  2. Bustamante, C. & Bennett, M.B. (2013). Insights into the reproductive biology and fisheries of two commercially exploited species, shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrinchus) and blue shark (Prionace glauca), in the south-east Pacific Ocean. Fish. Res. 143, 174-183.
  3. Bustamante, C., Kyne, P.M. & Bennett, M.B. (2013). A comparative morphological study of the egg cases of catsharks (Carcharhiniformes: Scyliorhinidae: Asymbolus and Figaro) of southern Queensland, Australia. J. Fish Biol. 83, 133-143.
  4. Couturier, L.I.E., Bennett, M.B. & Richardson, A.J. (2013). Mystery of giant rays off the Gaza strip solved. Oryx 47, 479-482.
  5. Couturier, L.I.E., Rohner, C.A., Richardson, A.J., Pierce, S.J., Marshall, A.D., Jaine, F.R.A., Townsend, K.A., Bennett, M.B., Weeks, S. & Nichols, P.D. (2013). Stable isotope and signature fatty acid analyses show reef manta rays feed on surface and demersal zooplankton. PLoS ONE 8(10): e77152. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0077152.
  6. Couturier, L.I.E., Rohner, C.A., Richardson, A.J., Pierce, S.J., Marshall, A.D., Jaine, F.R.A., Townsend, K.A., Bennett, M.B. & Nichols, P.D. (2013). Unusually high levels of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in whale sharks and reef manta rays and food-web implications. Lipids 48, 1029-1034.
  7. Cutmore, S.C., Miller, T.L., Curran, S.S., Bennett, M.B. & Cribb, T.H. (2013). Phylogenetic relationships of the Gorgoderidae (Platyhelminthes: Trematoda), including the proposal of a new subfamily (Degeneriinae n. subfam.). Parasitol. Res. 112 (8), 3063-3074.
  8. Gutteridge, A.N., Huveneers, C., Marshall, L.J., Tibbetts, I.R. & Bennett, M.B. (2013). Life-history traits of a small-bodied coastal shark. Mar. Freshw. Res. 64, 54-65.
  9. Huveneers, C., Stead, J., Bennett, M.B., Lee, K., Schroeder, S. & Harcourt, R.G. (2013). Age and growth determination of three sympatric wobbegong sharks: how reliable is growth band periodicity in Orectolobidae? Fish. Res. 147, 413-425.
  10. Jacobsen, I.P. & Bennett, M.B. (2013). A comparative analysis of feeding and trophic level ecology in stingrays (Rajiformes; Myliobatoidei) and electric rays (Rajiformes: Torpedinoidei). PLoS ONE 8(8), e71348.
  11. Jacobsen, I.P., Scott-Holland, T. & Bennett, M.B. (2013). Lepadidae barnacles (Lepadiformes: Lepadomorpha) in association with copepods parasitising pelagic elasmobranchs in the Western Pacific. NZ J Mar. Freshw Res. 47, 120-123.
  12. Nguyen, H., Cassady, A.I., Bennett, M.B., Gineyts, E., Wu, A., Morgan, A.F. & Forwood, M.R. (2013). Reducing the radiation sterilization dose improves mechanical and biological quality while retaining sterility assurance levels of bone allografts. Bone 57, 194-200.
  13. Rohner, C.A., Pierce, S.J., Marshall, A.D., Weeks, S.J., Bennett, M.B. & Richardson, A.J. (2013). Trends in sighting and environmental influences on a coastal aggregation of manta rays and whale sharks.  Mar Ecol. Prog. Ser. 482, 153-168.
  14. Taylor, S. & Bennett, M.B. (2013). Size, sex and seasonal patterns in the assemblage of Carcharhiniforms in a sub-tropical bay. J. Fish Biol. 82, 228-241.


  1. Bansemer, C. & Bennett, M.B. (2012). Carcharias taurus, grey nurse shark (east coast population). In ‘Queensland’s Threatened Animals’ (Eds. L.K. Curtis, A.J. Dennis, K.R. McDonald, P.M. Kyne & S.J.S. Debus). Pp 64-65. CSIRO Publishing, Australia.
  2. Bustamante, C., Lamilla, J., Concha, F., Ebert, D.A.  & Bennett, M.B. (2012). Morphological characters of the thickbody skate Amblyraja frerichsi (Krefft 1968) (Rajiformes: Rajidae), with notes on its biology. PLoS ONE 7(1), e39963.
  3. Bustamante, C, Couturier, L.I.E. & Bennett, M.B. (2012). First record of Mobula japanica (Rajiformes: Myliobatidae) from the south-eastern Pacific Ocean. Mar. Biodivers. Rec. 5, e48. doi:10.1017/S1755267212000310
  4. Bustamante, C., Flores, H., Concha-Pérez, Y., Vargas-Caro, C., Lamilla, J., Bennett, M. (2012). First record of Hydrolagus melanophasma James, Ebert, Long & Didier, 2009 (Chondrichthyes, Chimaeriformes, Holocephali) from the southeastern Pacific Ocean. Latin Am. J. Aquat. Res. 40, 236−242.
  5. Bustamante, C., Vargas-Caro, C., Oddone, M.C., Concha, F.,  Flores, H., Lamilla, J. & Bennett, M.B. (2012). Reproductive biology of Zearaja chilensis (Chondrichthyes: Rajidae) in the south-east Pacific Ocean. J. Fish Biol. 80, 1213-1226.
  6. Couturier, L.I.E., Marshall, A.D., Jaine, F.R.A., Kashiwagi, T., Pierce, S.J., Townsend, K.A., Weeks, S.J., Bennett, M.B. & Richardson, A.J. (2012). Biology, ecology and conservation of the Mobulidae. J. Fish Biol. 80, 1075-1119.
  7. Kashiwagi, T., Broderick, D., Lance, S.L., Bennett, M.B. & Ovenden, J.R. (2012). Development and characterization of ten microsatellite loci for the reef manta ray Manta alfredi. Cons. Gen. Res. 4(4), 1055-1058. doi: 10.1007/s12686-012-9705-7
  8. Kashiwagi, T., Marshall, A.D., Bennett, M.B. & Ovenden, J.R. (2012). The genetic signature of recent speciation in manta rays (Manta alfredi and M. birostris). Mol. Phylogen. Evol. 64, 212-214.
  9. Holmes, B.J., Sumpton, W.D., Mayer, D.G., Tibbetts, I.R., Neil, D.T. & Bennett, M.B. (2012). Declining trends in annual catch rates of the tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) in Queensland, Australia. Fish. Res. 129-130, 38-45.
  10. Jacobsen, I.P. & Bennett, M.B. (2012). Feeding ecology and dietary comparisons among three sympatric Neotrygon (Myliobatoidei: Dasyatidae) species. J. Fish Biol. 80, 1580-1594.
  11. Jaine, F.R.A., Couturier, L.I.E., Weeks, S.J., Townsend, K.A., Bennett, M.B., Fiora, K. & Richardson, A.J. (2012). When giants turn up: sighting trends, environmental influences and habitat use of the manta ray Manta alfredi at a coral reef. PLoS ONE 7(10), e46170. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0046170.
  12. Pierce, S.J. & Bennett, M.B. (2012). The estuary stingray, Dasyatis fluviorum. In ‘Queensland’s Threatened Animals’ (Eds. L.K. Curtis, A.J. Dennis, K.R. McDonald, P.M. Kyne & S.J.S. Debus). Pp 64-65. CSIRO Publishing, Australia.

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