DUNCAN, Meaghan

Meaghan Rourke

Research interests

  • Population genetic structure of freshwater fish
  • Using genetic techniques to identify and minimise negative genetic impacts of stocking on wild populations
  • Ecology of freshwater fish
  • Fish passage and migration


Meaghan first became interested in a research career after her honours project that investigated the population genetic structure of white-browed babblers. She then joined the Victorian DPI where she used genetic techniques to inform selective breeding programs for abalone aquaculture. Meaghan then enrolled in a PhD with Monash University to investigate the population genetic structure of Murray cod and to determine whether there had been any negative genetic impacts of stocking on wild populations. The results of this research helped to identify genetic zones for current stocking programs that are used to minimise negative impacts of stocking on wild populations.

Meaghan joined Industry and Investment NSW in 2007 where she continues her work on genetic impacts of fish stocking and has expanded her research portfolio into freshwater fish passage assessments and fish condition monitoring.


  • Diploma of Applied Science (Biological Sciences) – Swinburne University of Technology (TAFE Division), 1998
  • B.Sc. (Biological Science) (Honours) – Deakin University, 2001
  • PhD Molecular Ecology – Monash University, 2007

Current projects

  • Condition monitoring of fish in the Barmah-Millewa Forest
  • Condition monitoring of fish in Koondrook-Perricoota Forest
  • Assessment of fish passage in the Nepean River
  • Freshwater catfish population genetic structure

Recent publications

Rourke ML, McPartlan HC, Ingram BA  and Taylor AC (in press) Variable stocking impact and endemic population genetic structure in Murray cod (Maccullochella peelii). Journal of Fish Biology.

Rourke ML, McPartlan HC, Ingram BA  and Taylor AC (2010) Biogeography and life history ameliorate the potentially negative genetic effects of stocking on Murray cod (Maccullochella peelii peelii). Marine and Freshwater Research 61: 918-927.

Rourke M and Gilligan D (2010) Population genetic structure of freshwater catfish (Tandanus tandanus) in the Murray-Darling Basin and coastal catchments of New South Wales: Implications for future re-stocking programs. Fisheries Final Report Series No. 123. Narrandera, Industry and Investment NSW.

Rourke M, Teske P, Attard C, Gilligan D, Beheregaray L (2010) Isolation and characterisation of microsatellite loci in the Australian freshwater catfish (Tandanus tandanus). Conservation Genetics Resources 2 (Supplement 1): 245-248.

Rourke ML, McPartlan HC, Ingram BA, Taylor AC (2009) Polygamy and low effective population size in a captive Murray cod (Maccullochella peelii peelii) population: genetic implications for wild restocking programs. Marine and Freshwater Research 60, 873-883.

Baranski M, Rourke M, Loughnan S, Hayes B, Austin C, and Robinson N (2008) Detection of QTL for growth rate in the blacklip abalone (Haliotis rubra Leach) using selective DNA pooling. Animal Genetics, 39, 606-614.

Ho HK, Rourke M, Bravington W, McPartlan H, and Ingram BA (2008) Genetic and reproduction technologies for enhanced aquaculture and fisheries management of Murray cod. Aquaculture Asia, 13 (1, Jan-Mar), 15-21.

Rourke ML (2007) Population genetic structure of Murray cod (Maccullochella peelii peelii) and impacts of stocking in the Murray-Darling Basin. PhD thesis, Monash University.

Rourke M, Nheu J, Mountford H, Lade J, Ingram B, McPartlan H (2007) Isolation and characterization of 103 new microsatellite loci in Murray cod Maccullochella peelii peelii (Percichthyidae), and assessment of cross-amplification in thirteen Australian native and six introduced freshwater species. Molecular Ecology Notes, 7, 1258-1264.

Nguyen TTT, Baranski M, Rourke M, and McPartlan H (2007) Characterization of microsatellite DNA markers for a mahseer species, Tor tambroides (Cyprinidae) and cross-amplification in four congeners. Molecular Ecology Notes, 7, 109-112.

Baranski M, Rourke M, Loughnan S, Austin C and Robinson N (2006). Isolation and characterization of 125 microsatellite DNA markers in the blacklip abalone, Haliotis rubra. Molecular Ecology Notes, 6, 740-746.

Professional associations and activities

*    Barmah-Millewa Technical Advisory Committee
*    Koondrook-Perricoota Operations Planning Team
*    Council member of the Australian Society for Fish Biology.
*    Member of the Australian Society for Fish Biology

Fields of research

  • 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
  • 060204 Freshwater Ecology
  • 060411 Population, Ecological and Evolutionary Genetics
  • 070403 Fisheries Management

Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC)

Keyword/phrase list of research interests

  • Molecular ecology
  • Conservation
  • Stocking
  • Freshwater fish
  • Fishway
  • Migration

Contact details

Email: meaghan.duncan@dpi.nsw.gov.au