Peter J. Unmack

Zoologist, Ichthyologist, Conservationist

Born in 1971 in Melbourne, Australia
BAP Expert Peter Unmack

Peter J. Unmack’s fascination with fishes began with the purchase of his first fish tank in 1979. He soon obtained additional aquariums until he filled two sheds and the backyard with fish tanks and tubs of water. Since 1985, Peter has kept various Australian native freshwater fishes ranging from the smallest to the largest, most of which he collected from various travels. Peter has collected fishes extensively throughout much of mainland Australia as well as various parts of Papua New Guinea, North America and southern South America.

Peter was fortunate to be able to turn his fish hobby into an academic career. His interests are broad and include just about anything to do with freshwater fishes, but especially biogeography, conservation and desert springs. He changed hemispheres in 1994 and moved to California, then on to Arizona to complete studies on the biogeography of Australian freshwater fishes at Arizona State University. He went on to do research at Brigham Young University in Utah on the biogeography of fishes in southern South America and western North America, followed by another project at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Centre in North Carolina working on developing GIS models to predict biogeographic patterns in freshwater organisms.

In 2013 Peter moved back to Australia to the Institute for Applied Ecology, University of Canberra, where he is examining biogeographic patterns in southeastern Australia and studying hemiclonal unisexual carp gudgeons, and working on various projects focused on conservation of freshwater fishes, often with a strong emphasis on using SNPs as the genetic marker of choice.

His research interests include:

  • Biogeography of obligate aquatic organisms
  • Ecology, systematics, and conservation of fishes
  • Ecology and conservation of spring ecosystems
  • Invasion biology and exotic species
  • Application of GIS in collections based biology

Currently Peter J. Unmack also serves as the President in the ANGFA (Australian New Guinea Fishes Association) Executive Committee. ANGFA’s objectives are to promote the study, conservation and culture of the native freshwater fish species of Australia and New Guinea, and to provide a forum for the exchange of information.

Besides his scientific work Peter regularly publishes his studies in the Fishes of Sahul – ANGFA’s journal documenting various aspects of Australia and New Guinea fishes and their environments.

Expert in the following geographical regions:
  • Southeastern Asia, Oceania
Expert in the following fish groups:
  • Perciformes: Terapontidae, Percichthyidae
  • Kurtiformes: Apogonidae
  • Gobiiformes: Eleotridae, Gobiidae
  • Cypriniformes: Cyprinidae, Catostomidae
  • Galaxiiformes: Galaxiidae
  • Atheriniformes: Melanotaeniidae, Pseudomugilidae und Telmatherinidae
  • Siluriformes: Plotosidae, Diplomystidae