Dr Mark Wong
I believe there is tremendous potential for better understanding and protecting the world’s ecosystems through a careful examination of the seemingly ordinary details in nature—such as the physical forms, diets and behaviours of animals—through the lens of ecological theory.

Ecologist and entomologist Dr Mark Wong is a Forrest Fellow in the School of Biological Sciences at UWA, Visiting Scientist at CSIRO Health and Biosecurity, and a National Geographic Explorer whose research investigates the causes and consequences of changing biodiversity. His work focuses on insects—among the planet’s most diverse and important organisms—with implications for conservation and the management of biological invasions. To gain mechanistic insights into the structure and functioning of insect communities, Mark examines the morphological, physiological and behavioural traits of different species. His synthesis of such trait-based approaches for insect ecology was published in a highly-cited 2019 Biological Reviews paper.

More recently, Dr Wong’s research uncovered the global spread of invasive ants. Published in Current Biology, the 2023 study showed that as many as 520 ant species have been accidentally transported beyond their native ranges worldwide, and that the southern United States as well as numerous oceanic islands are global hotspots for ant invasions. In 2022, Dr Wong co-authored a study in PNAS which provided the first empirical estimate for the total number of ants on Earth—20 quadrillion—and showed that total ant biomass exceeds that of all wild mammals and birds combined. Dr Wong previously completed a postdoc at the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, where he investigated global trends in terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity. Prior to that he completed a DPhil at the University of Oxford on a prestigious Clarendon Scholarship, where his research on the ecology of ant invasions in the tropics was supported by funding from the National Geographic Society and a Varley Gradwell Fellowship. Dr Wong serves on the editorial boards of the journals Insect Conservation and Diversity, Asian Myrmecology and Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.

AffiliatedUniversity of Western Australia|
Focus areaPlanet