Dr Ken Walker
Senior Curator of Entomology
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I am a senior curator in the entomology (insects and spiders) section.
I have worked at Museums Victoria since 1981. My research interests are in native Australian bees (in particular the family Halictidae) and pollination syndromes (what bee pollinates what plant). I have actively promoted my entomological experiences through several museum exhibitions, biodiversity, biosecurity and citizen science websites and I have given talks to field naturalists groups throughout Victoria as well as Australian and overseas conferences.
I have described over 150 new species of native bees, especially in the genera Homalictus and Lasioglossum and I have several species of Australian bees named after me.
I saw the advent of the internet in 1996 as an opportunity to get our insect collections out to the public and so I created one of the first websites that allowed the public to directly query our museum specimens – it was called Bioinformatics and allowed users to find out what butterfly, frog, lizard, snake or mammal occurred in their local area. In the early 2000s, I became involved with Australian Biosecurity. I created a website called PaDIL (Pests and Diseases Image Library) which contains images and pest details for over 4,000 world-wide pest species of insects and plant diseases that Australian quarantine wants to keep out of Australia. This website is image rich providing a wealth to resources to identify pest species.
I recent years, I have become a strong advocate for citizen science – encouraging the public to contribute to scientific discovery. I was lead of a team to develop the successful citizen science website BowerBird which has attract many contributors from around Australia.
Bachelor of Agricultural Science (BAgrSc), University of Queensland, 1977
Masters of Science (MSc), University of Queensland, 1981
PhD, La Trobe University, 1995
Walker, K.L. (1986). Revision of the Australian species of the genus Homalictus Cockerell (Hymenoptera: Halictidae). Mem. Mus. Vict. 47: 105-200.
Walker, K. & G. Milledge (1992). Spiders commonly found in Melbourne and surrounding regions. Royal Society of Victoria. 52 pp.
Walker, K.L. (1993). Pachyhalictus stirlingi Cockerell (Hymenoptera: Halictidae): A unique Australian bee. Aust. Ent. 20(2): 59-65.
Walker, K.L. (1995) Revision of the Australian native bee subgenus Lasioglossum (Chilalictus) (Hymenoptera: Halictidae). Memoirs of the Museum of Victoria 55(1-2): 1-423.
Danforth, B., Eardley, C., Packer, L. Walker, K., Pauly, A and Randrianambinintsoa, F. (2008). Phylogeny of Halictidae with an emphasis on endemic African Halictinae. Apidologie 39: 86-101.
Pauly, A., K. Walker, J. Munzinger and B. Donovan (2013). Endémisme insulaire et cleptoparasitisme chez les Lasioglossum Curtis 1833 (Hymenoptera : Apoidea : Halictidae) de Nouvelle-Calédonie Annales de la Société entomologique de France (N.S.): International Journal of Entomology 49(2): 127-153.
Jessica M Baumann, Ken Walker, Caragh Threlfall, and Nicholas S. G. Williams (2016). African Carder Bee, Afranthidium (Immanthidium) repetitum (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae) - a New Exotic Species for Victoria. The Victorian Naturalist 133 (1), 2016, 21-24
Projects and events
Skydancers – Butterflies of the world
Bugs Alive! (current)
ABRS, 1996-1999, $120,000
Numerous Commonwealth PaDIL contracts, 2000-2008, approx $1 million
Chevron Biosecurity contract, 2008, $155,000
National Geographic Co-Grant, $100,000
Atlas of Living Australia, 2011, $350,000
Williamson Trust, 2011, $75,000 for PhD student
McCoy grant, 2014, $20,000
McCoy grant, 2015, $20,000
Robert Balckwood grant, 2017, $22,500
Taxonomic Editor for Journal of Australian Entomological Society (now called Austral Entomology) for 20 years.
I have conducted field work throughout much of Australia as well as in North and South America, South Africa and Madasgascar
Teaching and students
I have co-supervised several successfully completed Masters and PhD students with Melbourne University.
I have run bee identification workshops as well as several citizen science workshops.